Rami Milo, a junior at UCLA, remembers when her friend, Rustin O’Neil, was tasered by police two months ago as thousands of students, faculty and university employees rallied in resistance to a possible 32 percent fee increase to be voted on by the Regents of the University of California.

As the first week of winter quarter begins, Milo is bracing herself for something bigger.

After tremendous public upheaval, the UC Regents approved the fee increase to be implemented starting in January of this year. Under this plan, students will see an education fee increase of $585 this academic quarter, and then by fall 2010, a rise in tuition for both resident undergraduate and graduate students to $1,334.

Non-resident and undocumented students will see a mid-year fee increase of $633, and $1,458 by fall 2010. Graduate students and students of professional degree programs will also see a rise in fees as well.

“A lot of my friends are wondering whether to take out another loan. It puts a lot of students in this state of limbo where right in the middle of the school year their financial situation is completely changed when they haven’t had enough time to plan for it,” says Milo, a member of the Bruin Lobby Corps, a student organization designed to aggressively lobby state legislators regarding diversity, affordability and access.

Some students, however, seem not to be affected.

Milo explains, “A lot of students don’t know what’s going on, or don’t know why or when the increases are happening. It’s happening right now.”

In a statement after the 2009 November hearing at UCLA’s Covel Commons, UC President Mark Yudof said, “I know this is a painful day for university students and their families, but as I stand here today I can assure you this is our one best shot at preventing this recession from pulling down a great system toward mediocrity. In the long term, that would not be good for the students of today or tomorrow. And it would be devastating for California as a whole.”

Efforts to save money for the UC have not only affected students, but also UC faculty and employees. A press release from the University of California Web site reports a reduction of instructional budgets by $139 million, a layoff of 1,900 employees and the elimination of 3,800 positions, most of which are faculty.

Already the effects of California state budget cuts are evident in the amount of oversized classrooms, increased furlough days and the suspension of student programs and majors resulting in fewer classes across the UC system.

Yudof explained that the expansion of programs such as the Blue and Gold Opportunity Plan will help to cover costs of students with family incomes under $70,000. Under the same plan middle income students whose family income reaches $120,000 are eligible to have half their fee increase covered. According to Yudof, those whose family income totals more than 180,000 will be the ones “adversely affected.”

The UCLA Financial Aid Office also reports that the revenue from the fee increase is expected to generate $175 million in financial aid.

However, for students like Milo, who fall under a financial grey area where ineligibility for Cal Grants and Pell Grants make her only option loans, the optimism of government aid is slim.

Though government aid is subsidized for lower income students, students who are considered middle income are often times not qualified for government grants and loans. The Daily Californian, Berkeley’s student newspaper, reports that only 22 percent of their aid recipients were from middle-income families, those whose parents made between $60,000 and $130,000 annually. Students of middle-income families bear a huge financial burden when they do not qualify for financial aid, and still must bear the cost of tuition.

“Fall is what I’m really trying to prepare for. I don’t get Cal Grants or financial aid; I don’t get any of that,” says Milo.

Looking away with a sense of anxiety, she continues, “It’s a bigger financial burden and stress taking four classes, working over 20 hours and being involved in student organizations. It’s hard when you have to work so much.”

Though the mid-year fee increase seems slight to some, it already has students scrambling for what’s yet to come.