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Report 89-20: State Policy Guidelines for Adjusting Nonresident Tuition at California's Public Colleges and Universities: Report of the Advisory Committee on Nonresident Tuition Policies Under Senate Concurrent Resolution 69, published for the Committee by the California Postsecondary Education Commission

Published by The California Postsecondary Education Commission

June 1989

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Due to concerns about increases in nonresident tuition levels, the lack of an overarching State policy for nonresident tuition, and the fact that nonresident tuition at the California State University in 1986-87 and 1987-88 was higher than at the University of California, the Legislature, through Senate Concurrent Resolution 69 (Morgan, 1988), requested the Commission to convene an intersegmental advisory committee to recommend a long-term nonresident tuition policy for California's public colleges and universities.

This report is the product of that committee's discussions and findings. It is organized as follows:

  • The Introduction and Overview explains the origins and scope of the report.
  • Part One explains the methodologies that California's three public segments of higher education use in determining their nonresident tuition charges, the actual levels of these charges, and the requirements that students must meet in order to be classified as California residents for purpose of assessing tuition.
  • Part Two reviews nonresident tuition practices and student residency requirements in other states.
  • And Part Three recommends a State policy guideline for nonresident tuition and explains the reasons for this recommendation.
During its deliberations, the advisory committee discussed a number of nonresident tuition related issues:

  • In debating the question of whether a need exists to make each segment's nonresident tuition methodology comparable to that of the other segments, the committee concluded that to alter the methodologies simply for the sake of making them consistent would serve no practical purpose other than one of uniformity.
  • The committee also reviewed the level of California's nonresident tuition charges in comparison with those of comparable institutions nationally and found that California's charges are close to, or slightly higher than, those charged by comparable public institutions in other states.
  • In discussing whether the current methodologies are compatible with the State's existing resident fee policy, the committee determined that they are, except for two major provisions: (1) they do not provide additional financial aid for needy students as nonresident tuition charges increase, and (2) they do not ensure that tuition increases will be gradual, moderate, and predictable.
  • The committee also examined California's uniform residency requirements and found that they are not in need of revision, since they are nearly identical to residency requirements of other states.
  • Finally, the committee discussed whether professional students in high-cost disciplines should be charged a higher level of nonresident tuition than other students. The committee determined that this policy would not be appropriate, for it would be inconsistent with the State's existing student fee policy and would not provide the State with a substantial increase in revenue, since the number of nonresident students enrolled in these programs is relatively small.
Based on these discussions, the committee determined that the State would benefit from establishing some policy guidelines for the segments to follow as they annually adjust the level of nonresident tuition they charge out-of-state students. In addition to providing State-level direction, the committee also wanted to ensure that California's institutions remain competitive with comparable institutions nationally. Taking both these provisions into consideration, the committee recommends that:

As California's public postsecondary education segments annually adjust the level of nonresident tuition they charge out-of-state students, the nonresident tuition methodologies they develop and use would take into consideration, at a minimum, the following two factors: (1) the total nonresident charges imposed by each of their public comparison institutions and (2) the full average cost of instruction in their segment. Under no circumstances should a segment's level of nonresident tuition plus required fees fall below the marginal cost of instruction for that segment.

In addition, each segment should endeavor to maintain that increases in the level of nonresident tuition are gradual, moderate, and predictable, by providing nonresident students with a minimum of a 10-month notice of tuition increases. Each governing board is directed to develop its own methodology for adjusting the level of nonresident tuition, but those methodologies should be consistent with this recommendation and existing statutes.

The Commission adopted this report at its meeting in June 1989.

Related Topics: Fees, Tuition, Costs and Financial Aid

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(916) 445-1000 or via e-mail at

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