CSU to raise tuition 15.5% over two years

November 9, 2010 

LONG BEACH -- A panel of the California State University Board of Trustees voted Tuesday to raise tuition in two steps over the next year for a total increase of 15.5%.

Trustees on the board's finance committee voted 6-1 to raise tuition for undergraduate, graduate and credential programs by 5% in the winter and spring terms and another 10% starting next fall.

That means a resident undergraduate now paying $4,230 annually would pay $4,884 in the 2011-12 school year.

The full 25-member board of trustees will vote today on the plan.

And it would mean that tuition at California's largest university system will have jumped 76% over the last five years.

"It is likely there will be another protracted budget approval process, but the campuses need to make their decision and enrollment commitments now," Benjamin F. Quillian, executive vice chancellor for business and finance, told trustees.

The new tuition hikes would raise about an additional $175 million annually for the CSU.

"We students keep paying more, yet what we keep seeing is the dismantling of the quality of education at the CSU," Claudia Ramirez, a Cal State Long Beach student, told the board.

She said she is upset that employees have been laid off and more classes are being offered online. "I'm really concerned about my education at this point," Ramirez said.

She was one of dozens of students who asked trustees to reject the tuition hikes during the board's meeting in Long Beach.

Fresno State President John Welty said he hopes the CSU can persuade state officials to provide enough cash to "buy out" a fee increase for 2011-12.

But if the figures hold, financial aid will cover the cost for about 55% of Fresno State students. The extra expense likely will create a hardship for some other students, Welty acknowledged.

He said he hopes a new governor and Legislature can bring some financial stability to the system, calling it "most unfortunate that the state's commitment to higher education has waned so dramatically in recent years."

CSU Chancellor Charles Reed asked for the midyear increase after state lawmakers shot down an Assembly plan to restore additional funds to the campuses.

He said next year's increase is needed to cover the costs related to a boost in student enrollment bankrolled this year partly by $106 million in one-time federal stimulus funding.

CSU's annual state funding dropped $625 million since the 2007-08 academic year, according to the chancellor's office. The funding was partially restored this year, returning the system's general fund to $2.62 billion.

CSU officials said higher tuition is necessary to hire more instructors and add 6,000 classes.

The university plans to admit an additional 30,000 students this spring with funding it received in this year's state budget. But some of the funding will come to an end next year because it comes from the federal stimulus package.

"These 30,000 students are not one-time-only students," Reed said. "Going forward we've got to make sure we can provide the classes, the sections and the student services."

As is standard policy for CSU and the University of California, one-third of the money raised through a tuition hike will go into financial aid. About half of CSU students -- those whose families earn less than $70,000 a year -- will not have to pay for the increase because their tuition is waived or covered by government grants.

The Fresno Bee contributed to this report.

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