SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — The tuition at the University of California is falling — ever so slightly — for the first time in nearly two decades and, ironically, it's because the system has nearly recouped losses from past litigation over tuition hikes.
Tuition for the next academic year will drop $60, a fraction of a percent of the total base tuition.
The decrease will bring tuition and fees for California residents to $12,570. Students from outside the state pay more than triple that amount.
The decrease represents the elimination of a surcharge imposed about a decade ago to cover the costs of two class-action lawsuits against the university system over tuition increases.
The university system lost both cases, resulting in nearly $100 million in litigation costs. UC will have recouped nearly all of those costs by fall 2018, according to the UC president's office.
UC had planned earlier this year to raise tuition by more than $300, but university officials scrapped that proposal in April.
"I know a lot of people were really mad about the tuition hike and I had a number of friends who went up to lobby in Sacramento, and I'm just really glad it's worked out the way it has," University of California San Diego student Brianna Fluhrer said.
In the Board of Regents' budget summary, it congratulates the students for doing their part, "The impact of UC stakeholder involvement on the adoption of these proposals – in particular, the unprecedented participation by UC students in committee hearings, social media campaigns, and other events – was extraordinary."
The state budget that took effect July 1 added millions of dollars in funding for the state's public universities, which allowed the UC system to put off raising tuition, UC president's office spokeswoman Dianne Klein said when the budget deal was announced in June.
Some lawmakers cheered the Board of Regents decision to reduce tuition.
"California's future success depends on affordable access to our world-class universities and colleges," state Senate President Pro Tem Toni Atkins, a San Diego Democrat, said in a statement.
Students are thrilled as well, "great! I definitely didn't think the tuition hike was going to be necessary, so I'm super excited it's not going to be going up," Fluhrer said.
"I was like wait what this is actually happening?? That is very surprising," Junior at UCSD Nathan Stilitonga said.
"I mean it can go so far, that can go toward gas, groceries, of course it's not just the matter of paying for school, it's paying for books, it's paying for rent," Fluhrer said energetically. Silitonga was less optimistic saying it's a small chunk of the thousands students spend each year.
"We just need to keep fighting and realizing, we are already paying so much for college and that's going to have ramifications on the economy in the future," Fluhrer said.
The UC system last lowered tuition for the 1999-2000 academic year. Regents approved a 5 percent tuition decrease for that year, bringing resident tuition and fees to roughly $3,400.