November 20, 2009 in Nation/World

Regents approve increased UC fees

Michael R. Blood Associated Press
 
Associated Press photos photo

Hundreds of students lay down to symbolize the “death of public education” outside the UCLA campus Covel Commons building on Thursday. Associated Press photos
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LOS ANGELES – The governing board of the University of California approved a $2,500 student fee increase Thursday after two days of tense campus protests across the state.

The vote by the Board of Regents in a windowless University of California, Los Angeles, meeting room took place as the drone of protesters could be heard from a plaza outside. Scores of police in riot gear guarded the building.

The 32 percent increase will push the cost of an undergraduate education at California’s premier public schools to over $10,000 a year by next fall, about triple the cost of a decade ago. The fees, the equivalent of tuition, do not include the cost of housing, board and books.

“Our hand has been forced,” UC President Mark Yudof told reporters after the vote. “When you don’t have any money, you don’t have any money.”

Board members said the 229,000-student system had been whipsawed by years of state budget cuts, leaving no option other than turning to students’ wallets. Yudof has said the 10-campus system needs a $913 million increase in state funding next year, in addition to higher student fees.

State Assembly Speaker Karen Bass, a Democrat who sits on the board, said she would push for higher taxes, possibly on higher-income residents, to finance education.

At the UCLA campus, the meeting room was closed to visitors for the second day after repeated outbursts by demonstrators.

Hundreds of students and union members gathered at the arched doorways of the building, waving signs, pounding drums and chanting, “We’re fired up, can’t take it no more” and “Shame on you.”

Armed police, some with beanbag-firing shotguns, lined up behind steel barricades, watching over the protesters.

Authorities said there was one arrest.

Board members said students from households with incomes below $70,000 would be shielded from the fees, and financial aid would help others defray the higher cost. But that did little to ease the mood on campus, where some students wondered if they could afford the jump or qualify for more borrowing.

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