Ronald Reagan insisted on two things upon taking office as governor of California. One was the head of Clark Kerr, president of the University of California. The second was the imposition of tuition on UC students. Kerr was soon gone, replaced by Charles Hitch. The Regents of the University of California also agreed to impose education fees for the first time on the university's students. Excuses were made that the new fees were not really the adoption of tuition, but Senator Rodda insisted that the fees were exactly that—a violation of the university's long history of tuition-free public education. Tuition meant payment for education, while student fees were presumably payment for incidentals. The line between the two concepts was being blurred—or even erased.
Once the fees were in place, it naturally followed that the Regents could not resist raising them periodically. In this paper, prepared by Sen. Rodda to provide information to his Democratic colleagues, the Senator refers to a pending proposal to set student fees at $600 per year by 1971-72. By way of comparison, University of California undergraduate fees were $8129 in 2005-06.
Sen. Rodda also refers to the community college system in this paper. Tuition was later imposed on community college students, an explicit tuition system based on a payment per academic unit. Tuition-free higher education in California belongs to history, not the present. Rodda was prescient in his warning.
Tuition: Considerations of Interest to Democratic Legislators
March 1, 1970
The escalation of the tuition by the Regents on February 20, dramatically reveals that we are now in what I have described as the “era of the politics of tuition.” It is no longer possible semantically to argue that we have not adopted the tuition principle in California because of the Regents' action and we can expect tuition consistently to be more a matter of budgetary consideration in the future and we can expect, I suppose, an even greater escalation in tuition.
The following figures are rather interesting: In 1956 the fee at the University of California for a semester was $42 or $84 a year; in 1957 the fee went to $50 per semester or $100 a year; in 1958 it went to $60 a semester or $120 a year; in 1962 it went to $75 a semester or $150 a year; in 1964 it went to $110 a semester or $220 per year: and in 1968 it went to $107 a quarter or $160 a semester for a total of $320 per year.
Fees, as between 1957 and 1970, increased, therefore, from $84 to $320, which means that they have increased four hundred percent, which is certainly much greater than inflationary increases over that period of time.
The Regents acted on February 20 to provide for an increase in the admission fee for 1970-71 over present levels in the amount of $150 a year or $50 a quarter, which means that the fee will be $320 plus $150—about $470 per year. In 1971-72 the fees will go up an additional $150 and reach the neighborhood of $600, having doubled over a two-year period. This is for undergraduates. Because of Reagan amendments to the modified Hitch proposal, graduate students will pay an additional amount which will be $180 the first year and $360 more the second year, which means grad students will be paying in 1970-71 about $480 per year and in 1971-72 about $660 per year.
Incidentally, no provision, as a consequence of the action taken by the Regents, was made with regard to low-income students, although the increase in revenues which will amount to about $7 million, as I understand it, will go to the University to be used for the purposes determined by the University.
Statements were made to the effect that every effort would be taken to utilize current scholarship and fellowship funds to take care of needy students. But, no specific action was taken, and, of course, this means that the students must take a means test. to obtain the additional money necessary to attend State College.
A $200 tuition increase produces $9 million. Since the University increased the tuition to $150, the state will be saved about $7 million. With a California population of 20,000,000 that is about 459 per person per year. The increase, however, will adversely affect the ability of students to attend because they must project the increased costs into the future. A student contemplating entering the University this year, who financially is a marginal student, will have to have $150 more income next year, $300 in 1971-72, and if there is no increase thereafter an additional $300 for two years in order to achieve an AB degree. This means that his increased expenses will be $1,050 over four years.
If the recent history of the tuition increases mean anything, a student can be assured that the tuition will be in excess of this amount by 1972-73 because the tuition, which is now a matter of budgetary politics, will, I am certain, be escalated.
A critical fact that is important is that Section 23753 of the Education Code provides that State Colleges may not levy a tuition in excess of $25 per year or $12.50 per semester. Out-of-State residents and foreign students pay tuition fees. They also pay the regular fees which the resident student pays.
The difference between a fee and a tuition fee is that a fee is used for non-instructional purposes—it is for student services such as parking, materials, medical health care, etc. It also is for student association buildings and things of that nature. There is every reason to think that the State Colleges, which now have combined fees of $158 a year, are in violation of the law. Certainly, if the State Colleges raise the fee to match the University's increase in tuition, the State Colleges, in my view will be in violation of the law because some of that money will certainly be used for educational purposes.
The point that I am making is that before the State Colleges can increase the State College tuition to match the level of the University's increase, the language in the Education Code will have to be changed. This will take an urgency clause if it is going to be put into effect for 1970-71. If this change is not achieved, it seem to me that there will be an immeasurable diversion of students from the University to the State Colleges next year. There is quite possibly likely to be, therefore, another crisis in enrollment, at the State Colleges, because we probably will budget adequately to take care of the University of California enrollments, but we will underestimate and under-budget the State Colleges.
The critical factor at the State Colleges is instructional staffing. In a couple of years the problem will be one of building—libraries, cafeterias, faculty offices, and things of that nature. Right now it is primarily a matter of staffing.
The Governor does not want lines of students denied admission to the State Colleges or the University next year. Every effort will be made to stop this, but I think that it will be very difficult to accomplish such a goal because of the confused picture with regard to tuition.
Incidentally, if students are diverted from the University, many will go to the community colleges as well as to State Colleges.
The community colleges, under the law, must accept all students with a high school diploma and all who are 18 years of age or over who can benefit from an education. This is the open-door policy and, of course, the law imposes the non-tuition principle on the community colleges.
The community college situation is interesting.
At the time the Master Plan was developed, the community colleges were funded by the State at about 29% of educational costs, or 29¢ out of a dollar. The Master Plan provided that, by 1975, 50,000 students who normally would attend the University and the State Colleges would be diverted to the community colleges. In order to assist the community colleges in funding this increased enrollment, it was agreed that state financial support of the community colleges would be established at 45% and that there would be state contribution to capital outlay.
Today the state has met its commitment with regard to capital outlay and 50% of community college construction, statewide, is paid for by the State. A state bond issue, which I authored in 1968, provided $60 million for community colleges. About $45 million of the bond issue is still available, although the bonds cannot be sold because of the bond market.
Additional money was provided for capital outlay in Assembly Bill 606, 1969 General Session, for community colleges. With regard to the educational expense, however, the state has increased its level of support for community colleges only to about 33%—well below the 45% level of the Master Plan. sixty-seven percent of the statewide education costs of community colleges are borne by the taxpayer.
Many community colleges are at or near their tax ceiling and it is very difficult for a community college to pass an override tax. This means that if the Governor does not substantially increase the support level for community colleges in 1970, the State's contribution will drop probably to the neighborhood of 30%. Local support will, thus, increase to the neighborhood of 70%.
Remember that the community colleges must enroll all of those students who are qualified who offer themselves for enrollment. This fact of law quite possibly could lead to serious difficulties if districts are not successful in passing overrides, or at least it may bring many up to their maximum tax ceilings. It will definitely produce a crisis in community college education and will shift an increasing burden of higher education on to the community colleges and the local taxpayer.
In summary, the thing that must be pointed out is that the principle of no tuition was abandoned by the Board of Regents in spite of the fact that they describe the increase as a fee. The increase was so substantive that the semantics of language cannot conceal the fact that a University tuition is in effect. We now are in the era of tuition. We have abandoned a 101-year tradition which has been supported by fourteen Republican Governors and seven Democratic Governors. The Regents no longer have a principle of no-tuition to stand on. They will have to bargain on the tuition question and tuition will now become a part of the budgetary debates and deliberations each year. These are some statistics on education: In 1968 out of 1,000 students who entered school, 800 will graduate from high school and of the 800, 540 will enroll in some institution of higher education as freshmen, of the 540 who enroll as freshmen, 250 will complete more than the first year. Of these 250, 100 will obtain baccalaureate degrees.
Obviously we need to increase the persistence rate in the field of higher education, since our society requires a higher quality of education on the part of its citizens. Anything which increases the cost of education tends to lower the persistence rate. This is one adverse effect of tuition.
Incidentally, only 10% of the students complete sixteen years of education or achieve the AB without interruption. Tuition will further prolong the time required for an education through the AB.
One-half of the families in this state have incomes below $8,000; 23% of the University of California students have family incomes below $8,000; 14% of the State College students have family incomes below $6,000, and 4% below $4,000. Unless student financial aids are increased, the increased tuition will cause poor students to drop out of college:
10% of the nation's population is in California, but California has received 40% of the research money from the federal government. This statistic indicates the importance of higher education in California to our economy.
Arguments against tuition:
- Adversely affects low-income families, therefore, has a more drastic impact on the minorities.
- Will shift a greater portion of the cost of higher education to the local property tax, because of a transfer of students to community colleges.
- Will reduce the access to education in graduate areas exclusively assigned to the University (medicine, law, architecture, and veterinary medicine and doctoral programs in all subject matter disciplines).
- Will adversely affect California's competitive position in higher education which has made the State outstanding in technology and research.