UC President defends proposed student fee hike

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AP / Paul Sakuma

University of California President Mark Yudof speaks during a news conference at UC offices in Oakland, Calif., Monday, Nov. 8, 2010. UC is considering proposals to raise student tuition by 8 percent, expand financial aid and reduce pension benefits for future employees.

In an open letter to the state released Monday, the president of the University of California system made the case for higher student fees and reduced employee benefits.

UC President Mark Yudof said in the letter that California’s underfunded the prestigious 10-campus university system for two decades. To help close a one-billion dollar gap between the university’s needs and what the state allocates to run UC, Yudof’s proposing a $822 fee increase for all students, starting in the next fiscal year. He says the university will direct one-third of the money raised from the increase into financial aid to help low and middle income families. Under the proposal, students whose families earn less than $80,000 a year would not pay tuition.

The days of generous UC pensions and benefits are over. Current employees have begun to pay into their benefits while employees hired after July 2013, under Yudof’s proposal, would receive less generous benefits. "It’s going to take a while for the UC to dig itself out of its fiscal hole", Yudof says, so other cost cutting is likely. The proposals need approval from UC’s 26-member board of regents. The board’s scheduled to meet in San Francisco next week.

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