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State senator looks to provide student fee relief

State senator looks to provide student fee relief

State Senator Jeff Denham (R-Merced), second from left, announces his Student Protection Act to students assembled on the steps of the University of California, Merced Kolligian Library.


POSTED January 29, 2010 11:53 p.m.
State Senator Jeff Denham (R-Merced) revealed a new measure to limit California State University and University of California student fee increases at UC Merced on Friday.
Denham spoke before a small group of students on the steps of UC Merced’s Kolligian Library, announcing the introduction of his Student Protection Act that would limit annual fee increases for UC and CSU students to 10 percent of tuition. The act would also require 180 days notification before a fee increase could take place, so students would have time to prepare to pay tuition hikes.
“It is a simple and modest measure,” Denham said. “I think it is a common-sense measure.”
Denham said the act was drafted in response to a recent, midyear 32 percent tuition hike for UC students. He stated that UC Regents should have instead cut “obscene” administrative salaries, benefits, severance packages and discontinue funding expensive research facilities such as UC Berkeley’s South Pacific tropical biology field station.
UC student fees have increased 204.1 percent since 2003, while CSU fees have leapt 190.24 percent. Denham’s Student Protection Act would not affect community college student fees.
“It is unconscionable for our public universities to hit families and students with giant fee increases midyear when these public institutions are failing to be fiscally responsible,” Denham said. “Students are facing a double hit; while fees are being hiked, classes are being cut, forcing some students to take five or six years to graduate. That’s shameful.”
Denham said that the measure would provide a real solution to student fee increases, unlike Assembly Bill 656 — a move to tax oil and gas producers for extracting natural resources from the state, then use the proceeds to fund education — which he termed a “false promise.” Denham said that producers would simply stop extracting from California and look elsewhere for natural resources if the 12.5 percent tax was adopted.
Denham hoped his Student Protection Act, which he said has bipartisan support, would be approved by the legislature this summer and would be signed into law in winter. For UC Merced students, the relief couldn’t come soon enough.
“We’re all in agreement that we oppose student fee increases,” said Michael Fincher, a member of the UC Merced student government. “I think it’s going to help.”
To contact Alex Cantatore, e-mail acantatore@turlockjournal.com or call 634-9141 ext. 2005.

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