(CNN) -- When students at California's state colleges return to campus this fall they will have to pony up more.
On Thursday, the State Board of Regents voted to increase tuition rates by 9.6% to close one-quarter of a $1 billion budget gap. Campus reductions and other measures will take care of the reminder of the deficit, the Regents said.
The move came after an extended debate about ways to close the financial gap facing the states' network of public colleges.
In a previous vote, the Regents approved an 8% increase in tuition which combined with Thursday's vote puts the cost of enrollment at $12,192 per year.
"Faced with enormous financial cuts forced on us by political leaders, we only have a handful of options open to us, and all are horrible options," said Regent Bonnie Reiss. "As much as I hate voting for this increase, I hate even more letting this institution slide into mediocrity."
The Regents' plan tries to ease the impact on middle class families by creating a tiered system of financial aid.
Students with family incomes of $80,000 per year will continue to have tuition covered through federal grants and gift aid, while students from families with incomes up to $120,000 will be offered a one-year grant to cover the new fee increase, according to a statement on the University system website.
In the past two years, student protests over rising tuition costs triggered a series of protests at campuses statewide and the occupation of administration buildings at UC Berkley.