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CSU tuition increases … again

Police pepper spray protestors at trustee meeting

POSTED November 18, 2011 8:52 p.m.

California State University students can expect another, 9 percent tuition increase beginning fall 2012, following a 9-6 vote by CSU trustees behind closed doors on Wednesday.

“While there is still so much uncertainty in the state's fiscal condition, we wanted to provide students and parents with as much notice as possible that tuition will go up in the fall,” said CSU Chancellor Charles B. Reed. “That said, we must all work with state leaders to restore the funding needed to maintain access and quality for CSU students.”

The decision moved out of the public eye after student protestors disrupted the trustees’ Long Beach meeting once the public comment period ended. CSU police used pepper spray and batons to clear the room, leading to a confrontation which injured three officers, led to the arrest of four students, and saw a glass door broken.

Students chanted “We are the 99 percent,” echoing the Occupy movement, and demanded that trustees sign a pledge to tax banks to fund higher education, according to media reports from those present at the Long Beach meeting.

The final vote occurred in a nearby room following the disruption. That’s allowable under state law, but reportedly security officials forbid media representatives from reentering the proceedings – an act of questionable legality.

The confusion has driven some, including Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom to call for trustees to vote on the items for a second time during their regularly-scheduled Dec. 5 meeting.

“While I understand the CSU leadership's concerns regarding public safety, the spirit of open deliberations has been marred by the events of November 16, 2011,” Newsom wrote in a letter to Reed and Trustee Chairman Herb Carter. “This issue is simply too important to not allow for a full and thorough discussion. Otherwise, we contribute to the perception that this process is anything less than open and transparent.”

The CSU has not released its Dec. 5 agenda, but currently has no plans to reschedule the vote.

 

Tuition more than doubled in six years

With the $498 per year increase, CSU tuition will rise to $5,970 per year, before campus-specific fees which average an additional $1,047.

The CSU has experienced seven tuition increases in as many years. Since the 2006-2007 school year CSU annual tuition has increased 237 percent, or $3,450, from a $2,520 starting cost.

Those tuition increases haven’t kept pace with state funding cuts, the CSU says. In the current year, tuition hikes raised about $300 million, though $650 million was cut with an additional $100 million cut pending.

The new tuition increase is projected to raise $138 million for the system annually.

The CSU notes that approximately 45 percent of CSU undergrads would not pay the tuition increase, due to grants or aid. Since 2007, annual financial aid has increased nearly $800 million to keep up with rising tuition costs and expanding enrollment.

With the new, pending increase, the CSU says it hopes to provide grant aid to more students.

“We recognize that increased tuition impacts many of our students in varying degrees, so we will be looking at financial aid options for students who have not to this point been eligible for full financial aid,” said Reed.

 

CSU asks for more state funding

CSU trustees also approved the system’s 2012-2013 budget request on Wednesday, asking the state legislature for an additional $333 million in funding for the coming fiscal year.

The CSU is requesting $155 million to fund a 5 percent increase in enrollment, $58 million to improve student success rates, and $26 million to address mandatory cost increases in health benefits and energy costs. A further $30 million would aid with urgent maintenance needs, and $20 million would upgrade the system’s aging information technology infrastructure.

Also in the budget is a request for $58 million to provide a 3 percent salary increase to all represented employees.

“The additional revenue requested in this budget is critical to addressing the deep and painful cuts the CSU has had to absorb, and to ensure that students have access to needed courses and support services,” Reed said.

To contact Alex Cantatore, e-mail acantatore@turlockjournal.com or call 634-9141 ext. 2005.

 

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