CSU Board of Trustees approve 2017-2018 tuition increase

Rhiannon Ripley, Assistant News Editor

On March 22, the CSU Board of Trustees (BOT) voted 11 to 8 approving the recommended 5 percent tuition increase starting the 2017-18 academic year.

Undergraduate programs of 6.1 units or more will increase tuition from $5,472 to $5,742 as of fall 2017.

The Board of Trustees has been discussing this proposal since September 2016 due to a 2012 bill that requires the CSU Board of Trustees and UC Board of Regents to follow a precise timeline for increasing the costs of tuition.

CSU Chancellor Timothy White sent a letter on Sept. 29, 2016 to the California State Student Association discussing a possible 2017-18 tuition increase. Since then, students across the CSU system have been advocating, protesting and lobbying against the possible tuition increase.

CSUSM’s Associated Students, Inc. (ASI), traveled to Sacramento with other CSU student representatives for the annual California Higher Education Student Summit to lobby the state legislature for a fully funded CSU from March 11 to 13.

Students for Quality Education have been present at multiple Board of Trustees meetings, calling on the Trustees to support students and the CSU by not going through with the tuition increase.

They filled the meeting room with rallying chants of “No justice, no peace! No tuition increase!”

The finance committee who proposed the tuition increase said, because of reduced funding from the state budget the CSU should consider an increase. The committee said the CSU budget has dropped from 80 percent state funding in the mid-1990s to 50 percent in the current year.

The CSU received $33.8 million in 1997-98, $66.7 million in 2007-08 and $69.7 million in 2015-16 from the state budget. Tuition from all CSUs totalled of $7.5 million in 1997-98, $21.3 million in 2007-08 and $72.7 million in 2015-16.

Student population across the CSU was 346,834 in 1997-98, 465,703 in 2007-08, 422,063 in 2011-12, and 465,685 in 2015-16. Fall 2016 saw an increased student population of 478,638 across the CSU.

With decreasing state support and  increasing student population, the committee said it was necessary to increase tuition rather than relying on a possible increased state budget.

Trustee Lateefa Simon said she almost voted to approve the increase, but after students and parents shared their stories of struggle she said she changed her mind.

Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom said  the increase is “letting [lawmakers] off the hook,” and called on members to challenge lawmakers and support the CSU.

Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon (D-Paramount) said, two years ago the CSU system was fully funded and worked with the state to increase state support funding. “If the system needed more money, they should have asked for more money. [To say] students need to pay additional tuition is absurd and it is grotesque,” he said. Rendon, a CSUF alumnus, did not support the increase.

Even with the testimonies from students, faculty community organizers and fellow trustees, the BOT passed the tuition increase proposal.

For all degree programs, tuition will increase by 5 percent. The additional revenue would total about $77.5 million and fund improving graduation rates, providing more classes and support for the increasing student population, compensating faculty and staff, paying facility and building costs that are now the responsibility of the CSU and to cover mandatory operating costs.

In January, the Governor proposed his budget for the CSU to be $157.2 million, which is an increase of 2 percent from last year as part of his five-year commitment to higher education. It was short $167.7 million from the requested $324.9 million CSU budget, and will still be short $90.2 million with the increased tuition.

The Governor is expected to revise his budget in May, which may be the entire $167.7 reversing the tuition increase, but the revision is unpredictable at this point.

Students who receive Cal Grants, university grants or waivers for tuition will still be covered during this increase. Any questions regarding financial aid should be directed to the campus financial aid office.

Students are invited to speak with their respective College Representative within CSUSM ASI to gain a better understanding of the increase and learn more about efforts to advocate to state legislators.

The Cougar Chronicle The independent student news site of California