UC officials are considering the idea as they try to deal with increasing enrollment, costs and state cuts that could leave the university system with a major budget shortfall.
The UC Board of Regents met Thursday to discuss a proposal that would double tuition for undergraduate students over the next five years.
Administrators plan to propose the multiyear budget plan at the Board of Regents meeting in San Francisco. The regents could vote on the proposal at its November meeting.
Under the plan, UC would raise tuition by as much as 16 percent each year if the state doesn't boost funding for the 10-campus system.
Undergraduates currently pay approximately $12,000 for basic tuition. By the time the current freshman class graduates in the 2015-2016 academic year, their tuition under the proposed plan could get as high as $22,000. This price does not include room, board or campus fees.
The UC Reagents' budget this year to fund all campuses includes $2.7 billion in state funding, which is $650 million less than last year.
Officials for the university system say the increased revenue brought in by higher tuition is needed to address a looming $2.5 billion shortfall driven by growing enrollment and employee expenses like salaries, health care and pensions.
The size of the tuition hike would depend on how much the state contributes. For example, if state funding increases by 8 percent, student would go up by 8 percent. A 4-percent increase in state funding would lead to a 12-percent tuition hike.
UC administrators say they hope the budget plan will help them negotiate an agreement with the governor and state Legislature to fund the university over the next five years.
The UC system has seen dramatic swings in government funding over the past three years as the state struggles to close massive budget shortfalls caused by economic downturn.
This year for the first time, the University of California will receive more money from student tuition and fees than it receives from the state.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.