For the first time since 2011, students attending Stanislaus State will have to fork over more money to fund their education after the California State University Board of Trustees approved a controversial tuition hike that will go into effect this fall.
The tuition increase, which will be $270 per resident undergraduate student, will take the annual tuition price from $5,472 per undergraduate student to $5,742 and will generate up to $77.5 million in net revenue in 2017-2018 to support the trustees’ budget priorities. Similar increases were approved for non-resident tuition, as well as graduate, doctoral and teacher credential programs.
As the Associated Students Inc. President of Stanislaus State, Nicole Larson said that this tuition increase will unquestionably affect students throughout the CSU system as it limits the access and affordability of current and future students. She and other members of ASI took action to formally oppose the increase at a recent meeting.
“Students here at Stan State are mostly students who are first generation and grant eligible, who at some point in their lives, did not think that college was an option because of the price. So, attending a CSU is a realistic option for students and their family who do not have as much financial resources,” said Larson. “The tuition increase is threatening to those students, but also the students who are ineligible for grants and can only take out loans to pay for college.”
According to the CSU, revenue generated by these increases will benefit student achievement efforts such as the Graduation Initiative 2025, which encompasses a set of strategies that will allow CSU campuses to double four-year graduation rates and eliminate all equity gaps for low-income and underserved students.
With California currently on pace to fall one million bachelor’s degrees short of the number required for the future workforce, CSU campuses can graduate an additional 500,000 students over the next decade with sustained funding for the initiative.
“The university faces a critical juncture where additional revenue is needed if we are to continue the trajectory that has seen campuses reach all-time highs in graduation rates,” said Steve Relyea, CSU executive vice chancellor and chief financial officer. “If our advocacy efforts do not result in adequately funding the trustees’ budget request, the revenue generated by this increase will allow us to add faculty, courses, advisors and other resources to improve students’ opportunities for success. This is not a course of action that is taken lightly. Through the university’s robust financial aid program we will ensure that students who require the most financial assistance will not face any additional burden associated with the tuition increase.”
The increase is attributed to decreased funding to public higher education institutions. According to the CSU, while state tax revenues that support these institutions have fluctuated significantly over the last two decades, the trend has been towards a decrease in funding — a movement that was made evident not only in California, but throughout the nation. State support made up 80 percent of the CSU support budget in the mid-1990s and now makes up closer to 50 percent in 2016-2017, with the remaining revenue provided by tuition and fees.
As adopted by the Board, the budget priority areas would need an additional $324.9 million in investments. In his January budget proposal, Gov. Jerry Brown proposed allocating $157.2 million in new funding to the CSU, which leaves a $167.7 million funding gap in between anticipated state funding and the needs of the university system. The tuition increase would generate $77.5 million in revenue system wide, after a one-third set-aside of $38 million that would increase the State University Grant pool to help cover the cost of the increase for students who receive the grant.
Larson said that Stanislaus state students have heard both sides of the argument, including the notion that the CSU is in dire need of additional funding.
“To that, we agree, but we do not think that this should be the students’ burden. Being a state created and funded entity, we believe that the foundation of why the CSU was created is for the State of California to prioritize higher education, and providing a quality education at an affordable price,” said Larson. “Because of this, we are encouraging our state legislature to vote to fully fund the CSU and absorb this tuition increase. I would also encourage anyone else to call their state representatives and ask them to fully fund the CSU, so students who are struggling to pay for college as it is, will not have to potentially drop out, pick up another job, or further their debt by taking out more loans."
According to the CSU, more than 255,000 undergraduate students will not face any financial impacts from this increase as several financial aid grant and waiver programs cover the full cost of tuition for more than 60 percent of all CSU undergraduate students. In total, 80 percent of CSU students receive some form of financial aid – the university distributed more than $4 billion in aid in 2015-16.