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Napolitano vows to keep University of California tuition affordable

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SANTA CRUZ, Calif. » New University of California President Janet Napolitano said Friday that she will work to keep tuition costs from rising beyond the reach of families.

The former Homeland Security chief spoke to students and university officials at the school’s Founders Celebration. It was part of her system-wide tour of campuses.

The Santa Cruz Sentinel reports that Napolitano also met with student leaders who questioned her about rising costs and immigrant students living in the U.S. without legal permission.

UC tuition has tripled in the past decade. Napolitano said university officials are working to hold down costs.

"There have been increases, no doubt," Napolitano said. "It’s a public university, and we’re going to do everything we can to make sure it remains affordable."

The later years of her predecessor, Mark Yudof, were consumed with controversy over rising tuition costs amid a state budget crisis and nationwide recession.

Napolitano joined the system on Sept. 30 as the UC system’s 20th president. Her selection was seen as an effort to enhance the system’s influence in Sacramento and Washington, D.C.

Her tour has been hit with small protests by students mostly railing against rising costs. She is taking time to talk with students.

"Mainly she wanted to know what were our main obstacles at the university, and what she could do to help," said Shaz Umer, chair of the Student Union Assembly.

The choice of Napolitano has been controversial on campuses because of her time in the Obama administration as head of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, which has deported tens of thousands of immigrants through the Secure Communities program.

After leaving office Napolitano endorsed the California Trust Act, which aims to blunt some of the impacts of the program in the state.

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