Cal Poly students not tossing their graduation caps come June may be facing fee increases until they do.
Students will have the opportunity to voice their opinions about a fee increase that would add $3,600 to the cost of a four-year degree, by participating in an online vote on March 11 and 12.
“The vote is not a referendum; it is an advisory vote, an online survey,” College of Liberal Arts Dean Linda Halisky said. A series of forums will be held before the vote.
If the proposal is enacted, all students would see an increase of at least $100 in their quarterly fees beginning next fall. And that’s just for starters.
“The actual proposal is for a $900 increase in fees that will be implemented over a three-year period,” College of Math and Science Dean Phil Bailey explained. “So it is $100 per quarter, then the next year $200 per quarter, then $300 per quarter, totaling $900 in 2011.”
Cal Poly doesn’t charge tuition to in-state residents, but it charges a wide variety of fees that currently amount to about $5,000, not counting room and board, in an average year.
Use of the fee increase would vary within each department, but school officials said it would essentially go toward maintaining classes and providing needed equipment for specific majors.
“If we didn’t have student-based fees, we would not be the kind of institution that we are,” Bailey said. “They are absolutely essential.”
If enacted, the proposed fee increase would initially be higher for College of Liberal Arts students, whose fees are currently lower than other colleges at Cal Poly.
Wine and Viticulture program junior Ashley Leon isn’t in favor of the fee increase.
“I don’t think that I am going to be voting for the increase,” she said, “because I don’t think I would see any of the benefits from it.”
Cal Poly’s fees are already higher than those of other California State Universities, but both Halisky and Bailey noted that Cal Poly’s fees are lower than institutions that are comparably selective.
“We pay higher fees than the other CSUs, but we don’t compete with the other CSUs,” Halisky said. “Even with the increase our fees are less than the fees that students at comparable institutions like Berkeley, UCLA, or Davis pay.”
“You can’t compare Cal Poly to the other CSUs,” he said. “The average annual fee for public universities in the United States is $6,000, for polytechnic it is $7,000, Cal Poly is $5,000.”
The average total fee paid by students in CSU schools over the last academic year was $3,523.
History freshman Nick Tate, however, said he is in favor of fees if they will help maintain quality at Cal Poly, noting: “I would rather pay than have it affect my education.”