Heeding pleas from Governor Jerry Brown and students across the state, California State University (CSU) trustees decided to delay their votes on proposed tuition hikes that would affect the system’s so-called “super seniors” or undergraduates who are beyond their fourth-year of study.
The proposed fees would affect students who have accumulated over 150 semester units. The plan was to give students an incentive to graduate earlier and clear class space for incoming freshmen.
The fees included a $372 per-unit supplement for students who have accumulated 160 units, a $91 per-unit fee for students who wished to retake classes and a $182 per-unit fee for a course load of 18 units or higher.
The proposed tuition hikes were met by fierce opposition from students across the Cal State universities who vilified the fees, calling them an extra financial load.
“It would put a bit of a burden on me as I do already work three jobs—and I’m not rare in that sense,” stated Cal State Dominguez Hills undergraduate Gregory Lewis in a press release.
“Administrators refer to us as commodities,” said Natalie Doradobut, an economics major at CSU San Bernardino. “We’re not theoretical components in a business model.”
Governor Brown, who was a prominent supporter of the recently-passed Proposition 30, also voiced his concern over the “incentive” fees.
“This is no time to be raising fees of any kind,” he stated in a press release. “Voters gave us billions in new revenue, now we have to use that very judiciously.”
Empathizing with student concerns over tuition hikes, incoming CSU Chancellor Timothy White formally asked for a 10 percent reduction to his salary of $421,000 to $380,000. In a letter to the CSU Board of Trustees, White expressed his attempts to alleviate some of the monetary struggles facing CSU students.
“As I join the faculty, staff and students who have experienced cuts, salary freezes and increased fees, I too must do my part. This is the basis of my request to reduce my own compensation to contribute to the rebuilding of this great university,” stated White in his letter.
Amidst the growing concerns shared by both students and the governor, CSU trustees decided to postpone the vote. Instead, they decided to focus their efforts on a budget proposal, which involves seeking more funding from the state.
The primary focus of the new budget proposal was to raise enrollment by 5 percent. The enrollment rate from 2011-12 academic year was just over 29 percent. Enrollment increases will cost $156 million, but would only generate about $70 million in revenue. Other funds would go to faculty and staff who have not received a pay increase in years, while the remaining funds would go to necessary maintenance repairs across the universities.
The 2013-14 CSU budget, which asked the state for $372 million in additional funds, was approved by the Cal State trustees on Wednesday, Nov. 14. The new budget will bring spending to about $4.5 billion per year from the state.