By Melissa Caen

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — At Thursday’s UC Regents meeting, the Board was presented with a proposal for “cohort-based tuition” which would “keep tuition flat for students while they are enrolled at UC” according to a memorandum from the Office of the President.

In addition to keeping tuition costs predictable for students, it would allow the Regents to vote to increase tuition year after year, without sparking student protests, because the increase would only apply to incoming freshmen and transfers.

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“The student protests were among the strongest I’ve ever seen in my life,” said Regent Sherry Lansing, recalling the protests in the 2000’s when tuition was raised eight times in ten years. “We were locked in buildings for 5 to 6 hours. It was one of the most difficult times that I personally have ever gone through, so I don’t want to ever see that happen again.”

The proposal is still quite new, and there are many questions about how such a system would work. For example, would undergraduates and graduate students be treated the same? Would the cap apply to the total cost of attending a UC or just tuition? And how long would a student enjoy the cap?

Regent Maria Anguiano said students should get the capped rate for more than four years.

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“We just had a report yesterday around student debt, and it was very clear that underrepresented students and low-income students take a longer time to degree and to graduate,” Anguiano told the Board.

Of course, it’s difficult to promise a certain rate when the UC’s depend on the state for about 10 percent of its funding.

“It is absolutely essential that our allies, or that the legislature and the governor are on board with this. Because if you don’t have that steady, moderate increase in a variety of sources, this all falls apart,” Regent Vice Chair Cecilia Estolano pointed out.

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A group of Regents is meeting to hash out some options to present to the Board in the coming months.