Regents to Discuss New Fee Policy for Professional School

The UC Board of Regents' Committee on Educational Policy today will discuss a new professional degree fee policy to replace the old, outdated and inoperative policy. The UC Office of the President (UCOP), in consultation with the campuses, developed draft guiding principles for setting professional school fees. At its November 2005 meeting, the board agreed that issues related to planning for professional school fee increases required additional discussion. The principles were discussed at the January 2006 meeting and are reflected in the revised professional degree policy. Last January, the Regents also expressed concern about the impact of professional degree fee increases and the accompanying increase in student debt levels on the ability of students to pursue public service careers, which are less lucrative careers than those in private professional practice. In response to this concern, a report on professional school efforts to support public service employment is part of the package attached for review by the Regents. UC President Robert Dynes recommends that the Committee on Educational Policy adopt the revised policy on fees for selected professional school students. This policy states in part that professional fees should be set at a level that enables each professional degree program "to maintain or enhance the academic quality of the program, to achieve the program's enrollment goals, and to compete successfully with institutions of similar quality for a highly talented and diverse applicant pool." The revised policy also states that several other factors besides quality control and enrollments must be taken into account whenestablishing the fee level for each professional school program. These factors include: * the cost of education for each specific program; * the resident and nonresident tuition and fees charged by comparable public institutions for each specific program; * the funding requirements for financial aid; * overall state General Fund support for the University, and * other market-based factors that permit University programs to compete successfully for students. Importantly, the revised fee policy states "that in an event of a fee increase, professional degree programs will provide additional funding for financial aid - including loan forgiveness programs, where appropriate - to help maintain the affordability of a professional school education and to help maintain the ability of the University to remain competitive with other institutions." Enhancing Quality The revised policy also states that "professional fee revenue shall be retained by the professional school and used, in conjunction with other funding sources, to sustain and enhance the quality of the professional schools' academic programs and student services, to fund costs related to instruction, and to provide financial aid." This last provision is important to UCSF, as well as other professional schools throughout the UC system. Since the initial implementation of professional school fees, professional schools have been largely supported by a combination of sources, including state general funds, educational fee revenue and professional school fee revenue, among others. "Because fee increases have been used to offset budget cuts and have generated little or no additional revenue for the schools, professional schools have fallen further behind in their ability to offer competitive salaries to their faculty and staff," according to a UCOP report on the policy. "The financial circumstances of the schools are severely strained and will require a sustained effort over time to recover. It is within this context that the University engaged in longer-term planning, including development of a new set of principles for setting fees." Professional school fees for the 2006-2007 academic year for California residents range from a high of $15,013 to $16,334 for law students to $3,218 for nursing students. When looking at the average total charges for these students, however, the fees range from $25,101 for law students to $12,153 for nursing students. Students in medicine pay $13,440 in professional fees, or an average total of $22,753 in fees. Students in dentistry pay $15,798 in professional fees, or an average total of $25,396. Student in pharmacy pay $11,098 in professional fees, or an average total of $20,234, according to a UCOP report. The entire action item on the proposed revision to the policy on fees for selected professional school students is posted online here (PDF).