Both state university systems moved toward higher student fees Wednesday, with leaders saying they had no choice in a tough budget year.
California State University students will pay 10 percent more in the fall, and most at the University of California likely will pay 7.4 percent more.
At the 23 Cal State campuses, undergraduate fees will rise by $276, and graduate students will pay up to $342 more. Including campus-based fees, the average undergraduate will pay about $3,800 for the term.
The Board of Trustees approved the hike 15-to-3 at its Long Beach meeting shortly before a University of California committee recommended its own increases for the fall term. The Cal State hike is expected to generate $110 million next year, and UC's would bring in $70 million.
One-third of each increase will go toward financial aid. Cal State and UC fees have more than doubled since 2001.
Lt. Gov. John Garamendi, who is both a Cal State trustee and a UC regent, continued his crusade against fee hikes, asking both boards to limit increases to the rate of inflation. As he has at past meetings, Garamendi — who voted against both hikes — called them a tax on students.
"This is the dumbest tax policy you could come up with," he said at the Cal State meeting.
He later made similar statements to the Board of Regents at its meeting on the UCLA campus.
"Each one of us is a leader," he said. "It's time for us to stand up for UC. It really is time for us to say, 'No way this can continue.'"
A regents' committee approved increases of nearly $500 for most UC undergraduates and about $560 for the most expensive graduate programs. If the full board approves the fees today, undergraduates will pay an average of $8,007 for the fall term, including campus-based fees.
Although Garamendi suggested that board members force the Legislature and governor to invest more money in higher education, regents said they didn't think that would be a good idea.
"If we try to play chicken with the Legislature, I don't think we'd win," Regent Russell Gould said.
Dozens of students pleaded emotionally with Cal State and UC leaders not to raise fees, saying financial aid would not cover the higher costs. UC Santa Barbara graduate student Amber Gonzalez said the steadily rising fees apparently haven't been used wisely.
"Sometimes the copy machines run out of paper, so we can't make copies," she said. "Just tell me where the money's going, because it's sure as hell not going to us."
UC students also will continue to pay a $60 fee meant to recoup $40 million the university must pay to former students because it broke its promise not to raise fees for those students. Regent Eddie Island asked administrators why students should bear the financial brunt for a lawsuit lost by the university.
"The best answer, I'm afraid, is we had nowhere else to go," said Provost Rory Hume, bringing jeers from the audience.
Following the UC vote, protesters disrupted the meeting for about 10 minutes, chanting, "Whose university? Our university."
Police arrested 16 people, most of them students, a university spokesman said.
Matt Krupnick covers higher education. Reach him at 925-943-8246 or email@example.com.