A graduation cap surrounded by dollars represents the costs of education.
A graduation cap surrounded by dollars represents the costs of education. - 
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JEREMY HOBSON: Today, the University of California officials are expected to approve a 10 percent tuition increase. That's in addition to an 8 percent fee hike already scheduled to take effect this fall.

That's sure to hit students and parents hard. But as Marketplace's David Gura reports public universities don't have a lot of options.

DAVID GURA: At public colleges and universities, tuition usually goes up for one reason: the state government is short on cash. Amanda Griffith teaches economics at Wake Forest University.

AMANDA GRIFFITH: Public funding for higher education has been decreasing, and if you're going to keep your expenditures the same, you're going to need to bring in that money in some other way.

California currently spends $3 billion per year on schools in the University of California system. Ronald Ehrenberg heads the Cornell Higher Education Research Institute. He says that, when tuition goes up at public institutions, the amount of money those schools spend per student usually doesn't. But Ehrenberg says this story may be more about state budgets than higher education.

EHRENBERG: Ten percent tuition increase, in percentage terms, is very, very large, in dollar terms, it has a smaller impact than, say, a 4 or 5 percent tuition increase would have at an expensive private institution.

After today's vote, tuition at UC schools for in-state students could be about $12,000 a year.

In Washington, I'm David Gura, for Marketplace.

Follow David Gura at @davidgura