COURTESY OF UCLA.EDU
Students walk across UCLA campus.
This article was updated July 19 at 12:45 p.m. to reflect the UC regents' vote.

University of California students already celebrated a tuition freeze announced last month for the 2018-19 school year. Now they have something else to cheer: a rare $60 reduction.

The UC regents on Thursday approved a budget plan finally ending a $60 annual surcharge that began 11 years ago and paid the costs of legal cases the university lost. As a result, the price of tuition and systemwide mandatory fees will drop from $12,630 to $12,570, not including room, board, books and other expenses.

That is the first reduction in UC tuition in 19 years. That last occurred in 1999-2000 with a $180 drop to what now seems like an unimaginable bargain of $3,429 for tuition and systemwide fees.

The latest rollback may not be enormous but students across the 10-campus system will be pleased, according to Caroline Siegel-Singh, a UC San Diego student government officer and board member of the statewide UC Student Association. “I think any reduction in tuition will be noticed,” she said. She added that the move signals a move away from universities always leaning on students to foot the bill for various expenses facing the schools.

Devon Lomes Graves, the UC student regent, also praised the reduction and said: “It’s the right thing to do.”

The surcharge had paid for nearly $100 million in refunds to past students and legal costs in class action suits the university lost. Graduate and professional school students had successfully sued UC, saying that they were forced to pay tuition and fee increases in 2003 and 2004 without proper advance notice. So, critics long have noted, a generation of future students bore the costs of an administrative mistake.

According to an agenda item for the UC regents’ meeting this week in San Francisco, “by fall 2018, nearly all of those costs will have been fully recovered. Consequently, under the plan, the temporary surcharge would be eliminated and tuition would decline by $60 effective fall 2018.” The regents approved the rollback as part of a wider spending plan on Thursday.

Earlier in the year, UC had considered raising tuition by $342, or 2.7 percent. But after months of lobbying by the university and negotiations between the Legislature and Gov. Jerry Brown, state funding for the university was increased enough to avoid any tuition hike this upcoming year.

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