Fee increases expected for Cal States

Last week, the California State University Board of Trustees approved a two-tiered tuition increase of 15 percent over the next two semesters. Students this next spring will face a five percent increase in tuition that amounts to about $100. In the fall of 2011, the tuition hike will climb to 10 percent - another $440. To explain the two-stage process, Erik Fallis, CSU Media Relations Specialist, says that in the governor's proposed budget there was a level of support that was presumed for CSU, creating a ten percent increase. The new legislators then committed to find money that covers half of the increase.

However, this October upon the budget's passing, the additional funding was not there. In order for CSU to recover, the decided best option was to increase fees.

Fallis says if the state can find means to "buy-out" the fee increase, CSU can rescind the extra tuition so students will not be responsible for that.

"Our hope is that the state will actually be able to identify and prioritize the funding," says Fallis. "If we are going to provide an adequate education with adequate services to the students of California, we need to have the state support," he said.

The spring's five percent rise will allegedly support an additional 30,000 students. Despite past trends, CSU hopes to avoid additional cuts in admission or implementing furloughs in the future.

"The unfortunate reality is it becomes a question of access or affordability," said Fallis. "Whether you cut off the number of students we are able to provide for or if the students have to contribute more to the cost of their education."

Although it is probable most students do not appreciate the increases, CSU Fullerton senior Michael Grace is one of the few actively battling the tuition hikes.

As the CSU's Board of Trustees met last week to finalize decisions, protests outside the Chancellor's Office included only about 40 people from CSU's 23 campuses. The protests were demonstrated as a carnival of mockery complete with games like "Pin the Tail on the CSU."

Grace has planned another protest scheduled this week at CSU Long Beach to raise students' involvement while lowering tuition, or at least avoiding additional costs.

"I wanted to get protests going just to stimulate thought and try to get students involved in our future," Grace said.

"I understand our state is in a crisis. Obviously we have to make decisions somewhere," said Grace. "But continually imposing the burden on students doesn't fix the problem."

The tuition increases are affecting every CSU student, both current and prospective. SMC Film Studies major Cesar Fonseca is considering both UCLA and the CSU's but is especially concerned about money now.

"I'm not sure if I'll be able to afford it so I'm trying to keep my grades up so I can maybe get a scholarship," said Fonseca.

According to Fallis, students need not worry about the increased tuition so much. He says half of the undergraduates do not currently pay tuition. "They are covered by one of the most generous financial aid packages in the nation," he said.

He encourages all students to fill out a FAFSA regardless of whether they meet the specified criteria. "A lot of students assume they don't qualify, and that may not be true."

Financial aid is generally awarded to California students whose parents' incomes are $70,000 or less per year. Fallis says others still may qualify as well.

Those hoping to transfer to CSU aren't the only ones affected. University of California President Mark Yudof has proposed an 8 percent tuition increase for UC schools as well, adding more than an extra $800 a year.

The Board of Regents will be meeting November 16-18 at UCSF's Mission Bay campus to reach a decision.

This wasn't the only major development concerning the CSU's last week. After dismissing the fifty-year old legacy of offering Californians a tuition-free education, the CSU system has reached the decision to call student fees by the slightly more suitable term, tuition.

Fallis says, "Forty-nine other states call it tuition. But we here in California have been calling them fees even though they cover roughly the same types of costs."

"That doesn't change in and of itself the fee level, the way it's collected, how it's processed and how it's used whatsoever," he said.