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Cal State trustees to vote on new student fee increases for the fall

June 10, 2010 |  1:48 pm

California State University trustees, at a meeting next week, will consider raising fees for undergraduate, graduate and non-resident students this fall to contend with severe shortfalls in state funding, officials said.

The proposal would hike fees by 5% for undergraduate students and those in graduate business professional programs, and 10% for doctoral education students. For full-time undergraduates, that translates to a $204 increase, bringing the total university fee to $4,230 for the school year beginning in the fall. With campus fees included, the cost for an undergraduate to attend Cal State would rise to $5,097.

The plan would also eliminate a cap on nonresident tuition, with out-of-state students paying $16,257 for 30 semester units rather than the current $11,160.

The Cal State Board of Trustees will take up the proposal at a special meeting on June 18. Last fall,  undergraduate fees rose 32% after the board passed two separate hikes. Those followed an unprecedented reduction in state support, resulting in a deficit estimated at $584 million.

Under the current proposal,  the board could consider additional fee increases in November, if needed.  trustees might also opt to increase fees by 10% now, rather than wait.

University officials argue that even with the increase, Cal State's fees are lower than many similar institutions. Last year, more than 45% of undergraduate students received some form of financial aid to cover fee hikes, they said.

The 23-campus system, with 433,000 students, has been forced to reduce enrollment, cut course offerings and furlough faculty. The financial outlook remains bleak, according to an analysis provided by Benjamin F. Quillian, the university’s executive vice chancellor and chief financial officer, and Robert Turnage, assistant vice chancellor for budget.

They noted that a proposal by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to restore $366 million in state support to the university assumes a 10% fee increase. The Assembly Budget Committee has proposed additional state revenue that would allow the university to limit the fee increase to 5%. But that proposal must be adopted by the governor and Legislature as part of the final budget package.

Quillian and Turnage warn that unless the state restores a significant portion of the $625 million in support cut since 2007-08, the university may have to cut enrollment by 9.5% system-wide. “Under this conservative planning assumption, the CSU’s strategy for reducing expenditures -- while avoiding the need for a second year of faculty and staff furloughs -- depends on a smaller number of faculty and staff serving a smaller number of students,” according to the analysis.

While students would prefer no fee hikes, a 5% raise is the best-case scenario, said Steve Dixon, president of the Cal State Student Assn. 

“It’s a couple of hundred more dollars a year for us and that will be a hardship for many students, but the impacts will be much less than we anticipated,” said Dixon, who graduated from Humboldt State and will enter a graduate program at Cal State Sacramento in the fall. “Students have figured out how to advocate their position more effectively or we’d be looking at a 15% or 20% increase.”

-- Carla Rivera