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Students: University of California tuition increases mean skipped meals, losing 'luxuries'



University of California, Irvine, students march on campus Monday to protest tuition increases approved by the UC regents.
University of California, Irvine, students march on campus Monday to protest tuition increases approved by the UC regents.
Adolfo Guzman-Lopez/KPCC

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University of California students in the Southland expect increased hardship if planned tuition increases hit their pocketbooks beginning in the fall of next year.

“Student tuition is everyone’s problem, it’s all students’ problem, it’s the state of California’s problem, it’s a nationwide problem,” said UC Irvine undergraduate student Kristine Jermakian as she and several dozen other students set out on a protest march around their campus Monday.

Student leaders at UC campuses called for the protests and walkout in response to a vote by UC regents last week increasing student tuition by up to 5 percent over five years if state lawmakers don’t provide the university system with more funding.

“It seems like students are pinned in the middle between the state and the UC regents,” Jermakian said.

Gov. Jerry Brown opposes the tuition increases and called on UC administrators to do a better job of managing the funds they already receive from the state.

The tuition increase would raise the cost of attending UC to $12,804 next fall. That’s $612 more than this year. The increase wouldn’t stop there; tuition would go up each year, reaching $15,564 in 2019. A tuition freeze has been in place for three years.

UC student regent Sadia Saifuddin urged top administrators last week to consider the significant impact the tuition increases would have on students. 

It wasn’t hard to find students along UC Irvine’s main walkway who agreed with her plea.

“A lot of us are definitely skipping meals already and giving away a lot of luxuries in our daily lives,” said third-year biology major Mony Sary, “to basically save money to pay for tuition and other basic necessities like textbooks and school supplies.”

For Milan Tamang, a third-year pharmaceutical sciences major, the $612 yearly tuition increase he may have to pay next fall makes him think about how he'll cover the basics of living.

“That’s like six months' worth if you spend $100 on food every month, that’s a lot of money you’re losing."

At UCLA, about two dozen people protested the tuition hikes in front of Powell Library, AP reported. The group chanted slogans and waved signs, but there were no reports of arrests.

Several hundred students at UC Berkeley also marched to protest the planned increases, according to AP. Over the last few days, several dozen protesters have occupied Wheeler Hall, calling for no tuition hikes.