UCLA's business and law schools have long been considered a relative bargain compared to their Ivy League competitors.

That could be about to change.

With the costs of professional education constantly rising and state funding failing to keep pace, the schools are discussing raising their fees as much as 10 percent annually for an undetermined period. The fees are similar to tuition.

Administrators at the Anderson School of Management and UCLA School of Law which cost roughly $26,000 annually to attend say that without such steady fee hikes, educational quality might decline. And that's despite sharp increases already over the last several years.

"We feel the only way to continue to deliver the kinds of curriculum and faculty excellence and service required by an MBA student is by greater resources," said Dean Judy Olian of the Anderson School. "We are quite below our competitors in terms of (costs). There is quite a lot of room to raise fees."

The proposal to raise the fees at UCLA and the other 26 professional schools in the University of California system was raised at last month's meeting of the board of regents in San Francisco.

Dean Christopher Edley Jr. of UC Berkeley's School of Law-Boalt Hall was the prime advocate, saying his school needed to raise its fees, now at $25,500, as much as 13 percent for each of the next five years. (UCLA's David Geffen School of Medicine, UCLA's other big school, is not seeking substantive fee increases.)

Discussion also focused on an ancillary proposal that would give each school more autonomy on setting its fees. The matter was taken under submission by the regents.

Currently, the Anderson school charges $26,951 in fees for in-state residents, which is about $900 more than last year but nearly $5,400 more than the 2004-2005 academic year. In contrast, Olian said top private business schools she considers competitors such as Harvard's and Stanford's cost close to $40,000 annually.

UCLA Law School Dean Michael Schill said allowing the schools to raise fees 10 percent per year may seem like a lot, but it would avoid the problems with the current system, in which fees may remain static for several years and then jump drastically something both the law and business schools have experienced.

"I think what we should be doing is to allow fees to go up at a moderate but consistent pace," Schill said.

The law school's total fees, which were as little as $11,156 in the 2001-2002 school year, are now $25,463 for in-state residents. Out-of-state tuition and fees is substantially higher.

Olian and Schill said that their schools are committed to maintaining access by minorities and students without financial means by redirecting one third of every dollar fee increase to financial aid programs.

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