UC Students Erupt Over Tuition Hikes

Evening News Nov. 21, 2009 - Ben Tracy story on protests at University of California campuses over tuition increase.
Protests broke out at many college campuses in California this week, following a steep hike in tuition at state schools. A severe budget crisis is the cause in California, but it's a growing problem at campuses across the country, reports CBS News correspondent Ben Tracy.

University of California students barricaded themselves in buildings and hundreds took to the streets this week in anger over a plan to significantly increase tuition fees.

University officials had to be escorted by police off the UCLA campus after voting to raise costs more than $2,500 or 32 percent on families making more than $70 thousand. UC educations will now top $10 thousand annually, with room, board and books adding an additional $16,000.

Tiffany Loftin is already working a full time job to pay tuition at UC Santa Cruz. With the increase, she may have to drop out.

"I'm pissed off because I spent my first year of college, my second year of college and now my third year of college taking out loans and investing in the UC system and now they're kicking me out because I can't afford it," she said.

UC officials say the fee increase is unavoidable because the state cut $1.2 billion in funding. They've already turned away students and furloughed staff.

"We've seen our support from the state go down by 50 percent over the last 20 years and by 20 percent within one year," explained Mark Yudof, president of the University of California.

The financial fallout is not just being felt in California. States across the country with tight budgets are slashing education and students are paying the price. State aid to public colleges plummeted nearly $4 billion last year as enrollment grew.

The average tuition at four-year public colleges rose 6.5 percent to $7,000 this fall. At private colleges, average tuition is up 4.4 percent to $26,000, not including room and board, according to the College Board.

Most students end up paying far less because of financial aid.

"Most states, tuition at public universities - tuition alone - is still under $10,000 a year," said Jeff Selingo, editor of the Chronicle of Higher Education. "I think what you are going to see is that double in some cases to be more like private colleges."

Students fear public schools are no longer living up to their name.

"They want us to bail out the UC system and that's not our job. Our job is to come here and get educated," said Meghan Camacho, a UC Irvine student.

But now, they also have to learn new ways to pay for it.