SAN FRANCISCO — The University of California can avoid raising tuition this fall if the 10-campus system gets the funding increase proposed in Gov. Jerry Brown's budget plan, school leaders said Thursday at a UC board meeting attended by the state's top elected officials.
University leaders said they welcomed the governor's proposal to raise state funding for UC by $250 million to about $2.6 billion. The increase is less than UC had requested, but it's a reversal from years of budget cuts that led to hefty tuition hikes, reduced enrollment and cuts to academic programs.
UC officials said they don't anticipate the need to increase tuition for undergraduates or graduate students in the coming fall. Instead, they said they would seek other ways to cut costs and raise money, such as private fundraising, debt restructuring and expanding online education.
"We are extraordinarily grateful for what the state has done," board Chair Sherry Lansing said at the regents meeting. "The truth is we have to find alternate sources of revenue. ... We can't just only rely on the state."
The regents held a wide-ranging discussion of the university's finances and future at a meeting attended by Brown, Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, Assembly Speaker John Perez and state Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson. The four elected officials are board members, but it's rare for all of them to attend the same meeting.
The governor's 2013-14 budget plan gives more money to California's public colleges and universities, thanks in part to voter approval of Proposition 30, which temporarily raises income and sales taxes. But Brown also wants colleges to hold down costs and tuition, and move more courses online to save money.
Perez said "the state has clearly turned a corner," but UC should not expect more money than the amount proposed by the governor. He also warned the board against raising student fees and executive pay.
"We have an expectation in Legislature that you do no additional harm to access to the university," Perez said. "The decisions that we make here will impact the way that this budget and future budgets are viewed by the Legislature."
Brown, who also attended Wednesday's regents meeting, continued to urge university leaders to embrace technology and develop new ways to deliver higher education.
"We've got to think big," said Brown, who said he's been researching the history of higher education. "Let's not get imprisoned by paradigms of the past that are now obsolete."