The University of California may raise student fees 32 percent by next fall, boosting annual undergraduate tuition over the $10,000 level for the first time ever.

UC regents next week will discuss the phased increases, which for most students would include a 7.5 percent hike for the upcoming spring term and then a sharper increase for the fall 2010 term. The decision, which would bring UC tuition to $10,302, would cost undergraduates an additional $2,500 per year.

Most graduate students also would pay about 32 percent more in fall 2010.

The board also will consider for the first time the possibility of charging more for undergraduate business and engineering students, much as it does for graduate students in those fields. Undergraduates in those departments would pay up to $1,000 more than other students.

A student leader called the fee increases "staggering."

"It's really coming out of left field," said Victor Sanchez, president of the UC Students Association and a UC Santa Cruz undergraduate. "What you're going to see is an astronomical drop in the number of students able to attend."

Regents also will consider reducing enrollment by 2,300 for a second straight year, and possibly for several years thereafter. And the university warned that the state may not be able to raise the maximum Cal Grant to cover the midyear fee hikes.

UC leaders have long predicted a midyear fee hike this year and an additional increase for next fall. With hundreds of millions of dollars cut from state funding, raising fees is the university's only choice, leaders said.

The 10-campus university is laying off nearly 1,900 employees.

"Obviously a fee increase would be painful for students, we understand that," UC spokesman Ricardo Vazquez said. "But the kind of quality that students expect is being threatened."

California State University trustees, also facing severe cuts, raised fees 32 percent this year. The UC board is scheduled to vote on its proposal in November.

Matt Krupnick covers higher education. Reach him at 925-943-8246.