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Tuition hike coming down the turnpike for CSU students

POSTED November 9, 2010 11:13 p.m.

The California State University Board of Trustees Committee on Finance on Tuesday approved a two step tuition increase of 5 percent for the remainder of the 2009-2010 school year and a further 10 percent for the 2011-2012 year.

The tuition increases – $105 this year and $444 next year for undergraduate students – will be used to sustain enrollment, classes, and services for current students, according to the CSU. Approximately 3,000 additional classes would be provided in winter and spring semesters this year, and 6,000 additional classes would be offered in 2011-2012.

Student Trustee Nicole Anderson was the only member to vote against the tuition increase.

The vote to increase tuition comes just one month after the California Legislature approved a 2010-2011 state budget which restores $260 million in state General Fund dollars for the CSU. The CSU also received $106 million in one-time federal stimulus funds, to be used to increase enrollment levels.

Despite the additional funding, the CSU received $64 million less than originally proposed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

 “While we appreciate the funding that we did receive in this year's budget, the reality is our state support is roughly the same as it was five years ago and we have 25,000 more students," said Benjamin F. Quillian, CSU executive vice chancellor for business and finance.  "In addition, part of the funding we received — $106 million — was one-time federal stimulus money that is being used at the state's direction to admit 30,000 more students.  These students will be on our campuses long after this one-time funding has been exhausted, and we have to ensure that we have the ongoing resources to support them."

The approximately 180,000 CSU students who receive financial aid will be fully covered for the tuition increases. The CSU says that tens of thousands of students not covered by financial aid will benefit from newly expanded federal tax credits, offsetting some costs.

The CSU will also ask state legislators to “buy out” the 10 percent tuition increase for the 2011-2012 school year by providing additional funding to the system, allowing the CSU to rescind the increase.

While fee increases have become commonplace for the CSU, this is the first “tuition” increase as history as the CSU this week changed the terminology. California residents had received a “tuition-free” college education since the founding of the University of California in 1868.

The California Education Master Plan, first adopted in 1960 and updated in 2009, reaffirms the state’s commitment to a “tuition-free” education, though it does provide that students should pay fees for auxiliary costs like dormitories and recreational facilities. The plan defines tuition as "student charges for teaching expenses" and fees as "charges to students, either collectively or individually for services not directly related to instruction," but does note that fees have been increased and used for instruction at the University of California and CSU in recent years.

The term “fee” has caused issues for federal financial aid assistance programs in recent years, according to the CSU, as such programs are based on “tuition” charged to resident students. In 2009, GI Bill payments to CSU student veterans were in danger due to the naming dispute.

“We know that words matter,” said California Faculty Association Associate Vice President Andy Merrifield, a professor of Political Science at Sonoma State. “Therefore we must assume that replacing the words ‘student fees’ with the word ‘tuition’ demonstrates that the CSU's top executives have decided explicitly to alter their view of how the CSU should be funded and of the role of students in paying for public higher education. “

The increase sets CSU tuition to $2,220 for spring semester and $4,884 next year, up 242 percent since 2002.

Next week, the UC Regents are expected to consider an 8 percent student fee increase, up 224 percent since 2002. That fee increase will come just two months after an $11.5 million executive pay raise at the UC.

“There they go again,” said State Senator Leland Yee (D-San Francisco).  “Instead of ensuring our public universities are affordable and accessible for all California families, the Regents and Trustees would rather line the pockets of their executives.  These are not the priorities and principles our schools should have during tough economic times. Unfortunately, the UC and CSU administrations just do not get it.”

The full CSU Board of Trustees will take final action on the tuition increase today.

To contact Alex Cantatore, e-mail or call 634-9141 ext. 2005.

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