LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — University of California students rallied Tuesday to protest proposed tuition hikes in Westwood and Irvine.

One day ahead of a UC Board of Regents meeting to consider the issue, UCLA students took their outrage to the campus malls, led by UCLA Law students. Some carried signs, including one that read, “Fund our future, not your paycheck.”

Hundreds more students held a similar rally at UC Irvine, joining their counterparts from other UC campuses across the state.

The UC Board of Regents is scheduled to meet Wednesday at UC San Francisco to begin considering the proposal, which would raise annual tuition 5 percent over the next five years, resulting in students paying more than $15,000 by 2019. UC Officials have said that the hike is necessary to help offset higher pension and salary costs, as well as to help recruit more in-state students.

Under the proposal, the tuition hike could be less than 5 percent depending on state funding of the university system.

“UCLA Law is a proud public institution, but when tuition becomes prohibitively expensive, students are priced out of an education and it disproportionately impacts low-income families and students of color,” student Ean Boles said in a statement.

UC President Janet Napolitano noted that tuition rates have been frozen for three years. If the 5 percent increase is approved, it will bump tuition for the 2015-16 school year by $612 to $12,804. Out-of-state students would pay the same increased rate, plus the non-resident fee of $22,878, which would also increase by the same percentage.

Student Erika Schulz called the proposed tuition hike a “punch in the gut.”

“Some students are not sure how they’ll pay their rent,” she said. “In reality, $3,000 costs us all significantly more in interest payments, especially when you consider that many of us will rack up six-figures in debt. It is just unfathomable.”

The 5 percent tuition increase assumes the state will provide UC with a promised 4 percent increase in funding. But UC officials say the increase still falls short and doesn’t even cover the cost of inflation.

Napolitano has said she hopes the plan will offer some stability to students, and will offer gradual, predictable increases instead of possible large spikes in tuition — eliminating “volatility” in the tuition-setting process.

She also hopes it will spur the state to boost its funding of UC.

“We must, as a state, expand capacity for Californians at our public university system and ensure that we maintain our excellence in academics, research and public service,” Napolitano said. “For this we need financial stability. Students, their families and the university itself need to plan for the future.”

The UC Board of Regents’ Committee on Long Range Planning is scheduled to review the tuition proposal on Wednesday, with the full board expected to vote Thursday.

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