Students’ clever plan would eliminate tuition

What if students at California’s public universities didn’t pay any tuition? Zilch. Nada.

Instead, what if they paid for their education after they graduated, by pledging a fixed percentage of their income toward their education costs?

A group of UC Riverside students floated a proposal at Wednesday’s University of California regents meeting to do away with tuition and phase in a new way of paying for public education.

Wow.

The students got the attention of UC President Mark Yudof, who called the plan a “constructive idea,” and told the students the system would give their plan “a close look.”

The numbers presented by the students show the proposal could actually be a windfall for the UC system, where revenue could triple over the next 20 years to $4.6 billion.

Under the students’ plan, five percent of post-collegiate income for 20 years would go toward paying for school. At an annual income of $50,000 a year — around the salary of the average UC graduate — workers would pay $2,500 each year toward their education, or about $50,000 over the full 20 years.

Tuition in the UC system is currently about $12,000 a year, which doesn’t include other costs of going to school, like fees, room, board, books, beer, pizza, drugs and bail.