CALGARY -- Graduate students gathered outside of the University of Calgary's Board of Governors meeting Friday morning to voice concerns with a proposed five per cent tuition increase in 2020.

The students are calling on the board to discard the proposal and adopt an increase that reflects the Consumer Price Index. The board is slated to vote on the tuition increase on Jan. 10, 2020.

"The university's proposing a five per cent increase to all current students which is a very steep hike," said Mohamed Abdelsamie, vice-president of University of Calgary's Graduate Students' Association. "This will cause a lot of financial stress."

"Most graduate students have already budgeted for their whole degrees. This (increase) will cause students to maybe drop out of their programs. We don't want to see that."

Abdelsamie says the increase is substantial and will hurt student who have already budgeted for the duration of their studies.

"A five per cent increase to current students would mean $150 up to maybe a bit less than $700 annual increase for graduate students. This is a very big increase to students who are receiving a net income that's below the poverty line and they have to cope with the month to month budgeting in order to make ends meet."

The provincial government removed the tuition freeze in its budget released in the fall. The University of Calgary had been under a tuition freeze since 2014.

The Graduate Students' Association presented the following letter to the Board of Governors Friday to ensure all members of the board were aware of the association's proposal:

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