Tuition freeze proposed for University of California undergraduates

SACRAMENTO Wed Nov 13, 2013 2:59pm EST

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SACRAMENTO Nov 13 (Reuters) - The University of California would freeze the cost of undergraduate tuition for another year to allow for an overhaul of how to pay for higher education in the state, under to a proposal by the system's new president.

Former Homeland Security chief Janet Napolitano, in her new role at the helm of the sprawling University of California system, said the plan would give administrators time to create a tuition system that would be less of a burden on families.

California has already kept undergraduate tuition steady for the past two years, as politicians wrangled over state funding and families continued to struggle in the slow economy.

"Tuition goes right to the heart of accessibility and affordability - two of the university's guiding stars," Napolitano said in remarks delivered to university regents in San Francisco.

"We need to figure out, in the real world in which we live, how to bring clarity to, and reduce volatility in, the tuition-setting process. It's time for the university to collaboratively come up with another way," she added.

One possibility, she said, is "cohort tuition," where fees are kept fairly steady throughout the four years that any given freshman class spends at one of the system's 10 campuses.

California Governor Jerry Brown, who attended the meeting as an ex-officio member of the board, supports the tuition freeze, a spokesman told Reuters.

University spokeswoman Dianne Klein said that the freezes in prior years were "piecemeal" but that the halt in tuition increases proposed by Napolitano for the 2014-2015 school year would be part of a careful plan for tuition in the future.

The regents do not need to approve a tuition freeze, she said.

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