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CSU puts freeze on spring enrollment

POSTED March 20, 2012 10:15 p.m.

The California State University system will essentially eliminate spring 2013 admissions, turning away about 16,000 students and ultimately cutting enrollment by as many as 25,000 students in the 2013-2014 school year.
The downturn in enrollment was forced by declining state funding, say CSU officials, with the system facing a potential $200 million "trigger" cut should California voters decline new taxes on the November ballot.
"The university system is still a half-billion dollars in the hole, and if this trigger cut goes into effect, we will be at the same level of state funding as 1996, but serving 90,000 more students," said Robert Turnage, CSU assistant vice chancellor for budget.
The tax package consisting of a four-year, quarter cent sales tax hike and a "millionaires tax" on those earning at least $250,000, would fund California education from kindergarten to college. If the tax fails to pass, the trigger cut would come in the middle of the academic year, forcing the CSU to prepare now for the cut to come.
The only spring enrollment will come at eight CSU campuses - not including CSU Stanislaus - which will each admit a few hundred college transfer students who complete the Associate Degree for Transfer. That degree guarantees a spot at a CSU campus.
Additionally, all students applying for fall 2013 will be waitlisted, with applications put on hold until after the outcome of the tax package is determined. Once accepted, strict limits will be placed on the maximum credits students may take each term - 15 to 17, with exceptions for graduating seniors - due to expected class shortages.
Also, GPA requirements for state CalGrants will likely be increased, reducing aid to approximately 8,000 newly enrolled students in the first year, and more students in following years. The CSU would be forced to find a way to offer additional financial aid from its own budget.

Those cuts could be the tip of the iceberg if voters don't approve the November tax initiative, Turnage said
"We must consider other drastic options if our budget is cut again," Turnage said.
Those cuts could include a further reduction in enrollment, eliminating classes, and slashing as many as 3,000 faculty and staff members.
The reductions would come on top of more than 3,000 layoffs in the past four years, increasing class sizes, and additional work for instructors. Those cutbacks were forced by rapidly declining state support, down one-third since 2008.
The cuts also come despite surging tuition costs, set to rise another 9 percent in Fall 2012. In 2006, annual CSU base tuition was $2,520; in 2012, it will be $5,970.
According to the CSU, those tuition increases only make up for about $500 million of the $1 billion which has been cut since 2008. Reluctant to recommend a further fee increase, the CSU has no option but to make further cuts.
"These are terrible choices, and we will need to start making many decisions before we know the outcome of the election," Turnage said.

Even as the CSU agreed to reduce enrollment, CSU Trustees approved pay hikes for two campus executives on Tuesday.
Both CSU Fullerton and CSU East Bay will welcome new presidents, who will receive 10 percent more pay than the executives they replace. New CSU Fullerton president Mildred Garcia will receive $324,500 in base pay, plus housing and a $12,000-per-year car allowance, while new CSU East Bay President Leroy Morishita will receive $303,660 plus $60,000 per year for housing and a $12,000 annual car allowance.
The 10 percent salary increases are in line with a policy approved by CSU Trustees earlier this year, following public outcry when new San Diego State University President Elliot Hirshman secured a $400,000 base salary - $100,000 more than his predecessor. But the salary increases still send the wrong message, according to State Sen. Leland Yee (D-San Francisco), who is sponsoring legislation to prohibit pay raises for administrators during bad budget years, or within two years of a student fee increase.
"When the students are suffering, CSU should not be handing out such exorbitant executive compensation," said Yee.



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