LONG BEACH — The governing boards of both California State University and the University of California on Tuesday heeded pleas from Gov. Jerry Brown to postpone proposed tuition increases.
After requests from the governor and students, the CSU board of trustees withdrew a set of proposed tuition hikes slated to be discussed and decided on at the board's meeting Tuesday and Wednesday, said board chairman Robert Linscheid.
Also Tuesday, the UC board of regents announced it was postponing, at Brown's behest, a proposal to raise fees for several professional degree programs. The proposal had been slated for a vote at the board's Wednesday meeting.
The proposals prompted Brown, who serves as board president of both university systems as part of his official duties, to make an unusual appearance at the CSU trustees' meeting Tuesday. He also said he planned to attend the UC regents meeting in San Francisco on Wednesday.
He told reporters at the CSU meeting that his message was the same to both boards: Costs must be controlled and not passed along to students in the form of fee increases.
Fee hikes harm low-income students, he said, adding that he also questioned the timing of raising tuition a week after voters agreed to a quarter-cent sales tax hike and higher income taxes for wealthy Californians.
"This is no time to be raising fees of any kind. Voters gave us billions in new revenue, now we have to use that very judiciously," Brown said. "The problem is we have an extremely stratified society. I don't want to add burdens where we can avoid it."
He mentioned online courses as a possible way of offering courses without increasing tuition.
The 23-campus CSU system sought to create 18,000 enrollment slots by hiking fees for students who repeat courses, amass more credits than they need to graduate and those who take more than a full-time course load. About 71,000 students would have been affected.
Administrators said the goal was to create an incentive to push students to graduate faster and free up space for incoming students.
Students hailed the postponement of the issue.
"I think this could possibly signal ways of looking at things without raising fees," said David Allison, president of the California State Students Association. "There's a better way to go about changing students' behavior."
The 427,000-student system has suffered about $800 million in state funding losses over the past four years. That has resulted in enrollment, programs and faculty cutbacks that have made it difficult for many students to get the courses they need to graduate.
UC, which enrolls about 220,000 campuses at 10 campuses, had proposed raising tuition by as much as 35 percent for degree programs in business, nursing, public policy and theater, film and television.
Brown said requesting the boards postpone the increases was his contribution to tackling the student debt problem.
"This student debt of a trillion dollars across the country is obscene," he said. "It's unsustainable. We have to find a way to curb it."