UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism proposes a $10,250 per year supplemental fee

Ed Wasserman, dean of UC Berkeley’s Graduate School of Journalism, says in a memo to the j-school community that “the amount students now pay does not reflect what their degrees cost to provide [and] reluctantly, we’ve concluded that our students will have to shoulder more of this cost.”

The dean proposes a $10,250 annual supplemental fee, beginning the 2016-17 academic year.

He acknowledges that the amount “is not insubstantial” and says “our main concern is with the roughly 73 percent of students … who borrow to finance their J-School education. We estimate that worst case, their average debt repayment on a 10-year loan would rise by $152 per month.”

According to the j-school’s website, tuition and fees for the 2014-15 academic year are $15,801.50 for California residents, and $31,083.50 for U.S. nonresidents and international students.

I invited Wasserman to comment and he replied: “I’m inclined to let the memo speak for itself for the time being. I probably will want to add some comments once I hear more reaction, which will come over the next few days and weeks.”

His memo:

September 12, 2014

To: THE J-SCHOOL COMMUNITY
From: ED WASSERMAN, DEAN
Subject: PROPOSAL TO ADD TUITION SUPPLEMENT

In the next few weeks I will be asking the faculty of the Graduate School of Journalism to join me in recommending a supplemental fee to be paid by students starting in fall ‘16.

It’s a significant move, one not made easily. But an analysis of rising costs, of the inadequacy of central campus support, and of the money we will need to ensure the institutional strength and instructional quality of the School make this an action we need to take.

Nobody welcomes higher expenses. But the reality is that the amount students now pay does not reflect what their degrees cost to provide. Reluctantly, we’ve concluded that our students will have to shoulder more of this cost, just as nearly every other professional school student at Cal does./CONTINUES

Our students will pay more, but they’ll benefit as well.

They will benefit from enhanced career services to ensure they’re launched into promising jobs after graduation. They will benefit from vigorous advancement and outreach, to keep the School’s profile high and assure them a powerful tailwind from their degrees. And they’ll benefit from strengthened development and revenue-generation – successful operations now hampered by understaffing – to pay for fellowships, travel grants, technology upgrades, and program enhancements.

We’ll take aggressive steps to lessen the additional costs that our students will bear. For starters, we’ll allocate one-third of the new revenue to fellowships, on top of the growing array of financial aid programs already in place.

Some background: In 2003, after 10 years of study, the Regents began allowing professional graduate schools across the UC system to add what’s known as Professional Degree Supplemental Tuition (PDST). PDST revenue, unlike tuition and other University fees, stays with individual academic units. At Berkeley, PDSTs range from nearly $39,000 per year at the business school to $4,000 at social welfare.

For several years now, the Regents have had a de facto moratorium on modifications in PDSTs system wide. Early this summer, unexpectedly, they indicated they would entertain proposals for increases or new fees. Now nearly all the schools at Cal that have PDSTs are asking to raise them. The J-School and the Graduate School of Education are the only professional schools at Berkeley without PDSTs. The School of Education is seeking one this year.

So is the J-School. We’re proposing to introduce a PDST of $10,250 annually, starting in the ‘16-17 academic year. The largest share of the more than $1 million the fee would bring in each year would go to financial aid. The rest would expand our career services; widen our development (fundraising) and advancement arms; fund instructional facilities and equipment needs; create a pool under student direction for activities and enrichment; cover increases we’ve been told to expect in faculty salary, benefits and administrative costs; and balance our operating budget.

The additional cost burden the PDST will impose on our students is not insubstantial. But it is not insurmountable either. Our main concern is with the roughly 73 percent of students (the average over the past seven years) who borrow to finance their J-School education. We estimate that worst case, their average debt repayment on a 10-year loan would rise by $152 per month.

We hope it will be less. Raising new money for financial aid from private philanthropy will continue to be our top development priority; in the meantime, however, we must run our School.

To give this proposal the full weight and attention it deserves, we have scheduled three meetings. First, we’re opening the first faculty meeting of the year to lecturers as well as Senate faculty. It’ll be in the North Gate Library on Thursday, September 18, at 4 p.m.

Second will be an all-community meeting on Tuesday, September 23, at 6:30 p.m. in the North Gate Library. I hope this is convenient for alumni and lecturers. We encourage all students, graduates, staff, lecturers and faculty to attend so that they can hear in greater detail the challenges that have propelled us to make this move, and weigh in with their views.

Finally, we will hold a third meeting, this one for Senate faculty only, when they will decide on their position on PDST. The Regents are likely to weigh the faculty’s opinion heavily when it reviews the proposal in November and decides to accept, reject or modify it. That meeting will be held Thursday, October 2, at 4 p.m.

If you are not able to attend any of the meetings and have thoughts to share, please use this public Google form to submit them.

I look forward to hearing your comments and reading your submissions.

I also understand that some of you may regard this supplemental fee as needlessly burdensome. It isn’t. It’s a difficult step we need to take together, an opportunity to put solid financial ground beneath the School for years to come, and to position it for the bold initiatives that shaping the future of journalism will demand.


Comments

comments