This Date in UCSF History: Fix UC Thinks Big With Tuition Proposal
Originally published on January 26, 2012. An innovative, student-directed solution to the UC budget crisis was proposed last Wednesday at a meeting of the Board of Regents.
The UC Student Investment Proposal (UCSIP), authored by a group of UC Riverside students called Fix UC, asks the University to stop charging tuition.
Instead of paying the $12,192 (or $36,078 non-resident) fee for attending college up front, UC students would be required to give the University 5% (or 6% nonresident) of their wages for 20 years after graduation.
According to documents distributed by Fix UC, this change should yield more than double the current revenue for the UC system and would more equitably distribute the financial burden for students. The response at the Regents meeting was generally positive, according to Chris LoCascio, President of Fix UC.
“When I spoke to regents individually afterward, their enthusiasm about the proposal and its further development was very encouraging,” LoCascio said.
The UCSIP is a progressive measure that rebalances a broken system. It provides a source of revenue independent of the whims of the California State political circus and makes payment for education more equitable.
Not only is it a step towards solving the ongoing budget crisis, it also will support the mission of the University to provide “long-term societal benefits” and to be open to all Californians.
Instead of feeling pressure to obtain high paying jobs to pay off their debt, students will be able to choose careers in public service such as teaching.
Even more important, the financial burdens preventing students from attending in the first place would be more sensibly moved to the time when they can repay the system. Perhaps the most satisfying aspect of the proposal, though, is that the Regents are taking students seriously.
“UC President Mark Yudof has offered to meet with [Fix UC] in Oakland to further discuss the proposal alongside his financial staff,” LoCascio said.
Of course, the devil is in the details, so implementation might be slow, and though full implementation of UCSIP would be a major step in the right direction, there are a few things it could do better.
Instead of using a fixed percentage regardless of income, the plan should raise or lower the rate depending on the absolute income and should include income from financial investments. If a graduate earns less than $20,000 he should not have to pay the same rate as a graduate earning $200,000.
In addition, the program could provide lower rates for graduates who take public service jobs or work in resource poor communities. This would further encourage societal benefits. The proposal comes at a poignant time for UCSF.
At the same Regents’ meeting, Chancellor Susan Desmond Hellman proposed that a working group be formed to explore options to secure our campus’ financial future. That group should include student representation and should consider restructuring the tuition for our professional schools.
Even though tuition does not constitute a large proportion of UCSF’s budget, a UCSIP like shift in tuition would further our mission by encouraging students to pursue work in primary care and underserved communities.
As healthcare professionals, we have a strong tradition in service to our society, and a reconsideration of our tuition structure will bolster our commitment.