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Cal State won't raise tuition despite budget shortfall

January 23, 2013 |  6:22 am

California State University officials said Tuesday they would not increase tuition next fall but they warned that the governor's budget would not allow them to increase enrollment despite record demand at many colleges.

The Cal State system had requested $372 million in additional funding for student programs, urgent maintenance, enrollment growth and other services for the 2013-14 academic year. But the governor's proposal includes $125 million in additional money — and that amount must still make it through budget negotiations with the Legislature.

"It's going to improve access but perhaps not by a lot of bodies," Chancellor Timothy P. White said at a meeting of the Board of Trustees in Long Beach. "The budget stops the hemorrhaging and gives us a chance to take breath."

Gov. Jerry Brown, who attended Tuesday's meeting, echoed White's concerns, reiterating that he wants the university system to spend within its means and avoid a tuition hike. Brown took the same message to the UC regents in San Francisco last week.

"It's a tight ship and it's going to get tighter," the governor said in Long Beach. "We're going to have to do some very creative, very thoughtful, very careful adjustments."

The caution underscored a key fiscal reality: Despite Brown's funding proposal and the passage of Proposition 30, which temporarily increased sales taxes and income taxes on high earners, the state's public higher education systems are still climbing out of deep budget holes. State support for Cal State's 23 campuses has decreased by nearly $1 billion since 2008.

Brown wants to increase the Cal State budget by 4% to 5% for four years. If lawmakers approve the proposal, the expectation is that there would be no tuition hikes during those years, officials said.

The governor has proposed directing $10 million toward increasing online classes, especially high-demand "bottleneck" courses that students must take to progress toward graduation. Cal State this month launched a new initiative, Cal State Online, that will focus on helping students finish course work to obtain degrees. Officials said they want to ramp up those efforts to include lower-division general education classes, prerequisites for majors and even remedial classes.

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— Carla Rivera

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