Tuition at the University of California would need to rise by more than 20 percent – or $2,400 a year – beginning in January if voters reject a tax measure on the November ballot, UC leaders will tell the Board of Regents when they meet next week in San Francisco, reports the San Francisco Chronicle.

The warning, as much to voters as to the regents, comes even as UC’s governing board prepares to endorse the state’s new budget allowing it to freeze tuition at current levels.

In short, the fate of tuition levels and students’ pocketbooks rests on what sounds like a high-stakes game of financial musical chairs. It goes like this: In approving a new budget for 2012-13, the Legislature agreed to allocate $125 million to UC in exchange for a tuition freeze. The budget also assumes that voters will approve the tax measure placed on the ballot by Gov. Jerry Brown. And if they don’t, UC has been told it will receive an automatic midyear cut of $250 million.

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