UC students scramble to find funding after tuition hike

MERCED, Calif.

Students we spoke with at U.C. Merced are clearly concerned about coming up with the extra money in such a short amount of time.

Administrators say those on financial aid will get help with the fees, but those who don't quite qualify may have a hard time making ends meet.

Students at U.C. Merced are feeling frustrated by the latest fee hikes.

"Quite frankly I just don't think it's fair," said Leo Zambrano. "We're trying to get an education. I don't see why we should struggle so much just to try to get our degree."

Senior Leo Zambrano says he may have to take out more student loans to cover the increase, which will push him further into debt.

"It could that this semester I can actually mange, next semester I won't be able to do it," said Zambrano. "So I best be prepared for the worst."

The new 9.6 percent tuition hike comes on top of an eight percent increase that's also set to take effect this fall. U.C. officials say they're necessary because the state slashed the universities budget by $650 million.

"It's not our fault the assembly and the senate can't get their act together," said Baltazar Cornejo. "They can't pass a good budget. They keep cutting from education."

U.C. Merced administrators say any student whose family income is less than $80 thousand will have all of their fees covered through financial aid. But those who are just above that threshold will have to find other ways to pay.

Jane Lawrence, Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs said, "We are working very hard with our particularly our families who make between $80 and $100 thousand to raise more scholarship funds and have more financial aid available to them."

Patrice Smith says she's trying to find a part time job, but that's also tough in this economy.

"I like the U.C. system better than any other place, so I don't mind it," said Smith. "But it's going to be a struggle."

The university says it plans to start recalculating financial aid for students who receive it starting next week.

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