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CSU to raise student fees 15 percent

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The cash-strapped California State University system has—no surprise here—voted once again to raise student fees an additional 15 percent by fall 2011.

On Nov. 3, the Board of Trustees Committee on Finance approved a double fee-hike on students: a five percent increase effective Jan. 1, 2011, and another 10 percent increase starting the following fall term.

The Chancellor’s Office argued the tuition spike is necessary to maintain the current level of education and administrative services for the current number of students, as well as those the system expects to admit in the 2011 school year, which includes some 30,000 students in spring.

“It’s a two-step process,” said CSU Chancellor’s Office Spokesman Mike Uhlenkamp. “We’re trying to support and sustain our current levels of enrollment, as well as those we’re expecting to take in the upcoming terms.”

The CSU system expects to serve roughly 400,000 students in the 2011 school year.

Currently, the CSU system is funded mostly by state support— roughly two-thirds—and student fees cover the rest. Though the state university system has increased student enrollment by approximately 25,000 students in the last five years, the level of state support has remained the same.

The governor’s original January 2010 budget proposed a 10 percent fee increase to allow for projected growth in the CSU system; the Legislature approved 5 percent. However, the 5 percent state funding wasn’t included when the budget was signed in October 2010, leaving the CSU system roughly $64 million short of the 2010-11 budget.

However, the Board of Trustees adopted a 2010-11 budget request which asks the governor and Legislature to “buy out” the fee increase and essentially void the 10 percent increase on students for fall 2011. Whether that’s successful, Uhlenkamp said, is anybody’s guess.

“We’re in the same boat as everyone else, trying to get that same slice of the pie,” Uhlenkamp said. “As of right now, we just don’t know where it will stand.”

He added that while “it’s very hard” to place additional financial burdens on students, they are not the only ones feeling the pinch of reduced state support. In 2010, CSU employees were forced to take furloughs, which equated to a 10 percent pay cut across the board,

“I would also point out that we have 15 comparison institutions, and even with
the prospective [15 percent] increase, we would still rank among the lowest,” Uhlenkamp said.

He added that the education of roughly half of the students in the CSU system is heavily subsidized with state and federal grant funding. However, students who don’t receive financial aid stand to be most impacted by the proposed increases.

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