Tuition hikes on horizon for CSU

The entrance to Sacramento State University. ((Photo: Sacramento State)

A funding gap between Gov. Jerry Brown’s proposed 2018-19 budget and the draft spending plan of the California State University may lead to a tuition increase for CSU students, including those at Sacramento State.

CSU students across the state would face a 4 percent tuition increase, or $228 per semester, totaling $5,970 for the 2018-19 academic year.

“I remain optimistic that the Legislature will be more forthcoming with funds. We must do right by our students.” — Robert Nelson

CSU’s board of trustees requested an increase in funding of $263 million, but during his Jan.10 press conference, Gov. Brown proposed only about a third of that — a boost of $92.1 million.

The Legislative Analyst, the Legislature’s nonpartisan budget adviser, says Brown’s budget places a high priority on building state reserves, according to a report by the Legislative Analyst.

Sacramento State President Robert Nelsen voiced his worries about the University’s budget during his Jan. 19 Spring Address on campus.

“I remain optimistic that the Legislature will be more forthcoming with funds,” Nelsen said “We must do right by our students.”

CSU’s 23 campuses aren’t the only ones affected.

University of California regents plan to raise tuition and fees by 2.7 percent, or $342, equaling $12,972 for the academic year. If approved, it would be the second increase since 2010-11. A vote on the issue by the UC Board of Regents has been delayed at the request of UC President Janet Napolitano.

Regardless of looming tuition issues, Sacramento State says it is determined to continue adding classes to the curriculum and widening the campus.

“I feel like it’s unfair the students have to be the ones to suffer.” — Erika Alvarez.

More than 370 courses have been added to this fall semester, with an additional 12,000 seats for students, according to the university. In the spring semester, Sacramento State will offer about 169 more classes than were offered last spring.

The University has $71 million in hand to build a 95,000-square-foot  Science Complex  but must raise another $20 million in private funds to finish it by the estimated fall 2019 opening. The building will be built directly across from the University Union on campus and will feature a  planetarium with a 2,500-square-foot dome, observatory with a retractable roof, and many laboratories.

The space will also host the Green Terrace, a grass-covered room that will capture and filter stormwater runoff before it enters the American river.

Erika Alvarez, a fourth-year theater major, feels students should not be affected by the state’s budget

“I feel like it’s unfair the students have to be the ones to suffer,” Alvarez said in an email to Capitol Weekly. “We don’t need an expansion for the Union… we don’t need a new science building.” Alvarez feels the money used for these items would have been better suited to make up the difference the state budget will cause.

According to the CSU website, more than 60 percent of CSU undergraduates meet financial aid eligibility.

Alvarez won a McConnell scholarship in 2014, part of The McConnell Foundation based in Redding. Scholars have access to $30,000 of financial support during their academic careers for up to 6 years, according to the website.

“If it wasn’t for McConnell, there is no way I would be able to afford a university in general. I would be going to College of the Siskiyous back home where school and housing is way cheaper,” Alvarez said.

“An increase may not seem like a lot to people but there are a lot of us here who have to nickel and dime,” Alvarez added.

According to the CSU website, more than 60 percent of CSU undergraduates meet financial aid eligibility. Those with family incomes of $70,000 a year or lower will continue to have their tuition, and any increases, fully covered. The coverage would come in the form of Cal Grants and the CSU’s State University Grant.

“As a public university, the CSU is — and always will be — focused on ensuring that the State of California remains our primary funding source,” the CSU system said in a statement online. “As we continue our advocacy  with state leaders, the CSU must also consider funding alternatives.”

If no funding alternatives are available, the CSU system will turn away about 31,000 qualified students statewide because the budget only covers basic necessities, according to the California Faculty Association.

“I am still in shock with how many qualified students we turn away every year,” Nelsen said in his speech. “ I often wonder how many of those applicants end up in the military or low-paying jobs all because of an enrollment cap that shatters so many American dreams,” he added.

A CFA report published in 2017 found that funding for students has decreased 41 percent since 1985.

CFA president Margarita Berta-Avila says the CFA does not support the possible increase.

“It’s going to impact the students in several ways,” Berta-Avila said.Many students will continue to take on their current load of classes during the possible increase, she said.

“Some will work two or three jobs, working more than 40-hours a week. This impacts their classwork,”she added.

Berta-Avila said many CSU faculty members also see “across the board” that when a hike in fees occurs, students will either leave school or lessen their course load to part-time.

“The Governor offered less to the CSUs and that creates, not only creates fee hikes, but causes issues with potential students that could enter a CSU,” she said.

In a CFA report titled “Equity, Interrupted: How California is Cheating its Future,” published in 2017, found that funding for students has decreased 41 percent since 1985.

“California is spending less for each student today, when nearly three out of four are students of color, than it did in 1985 when the majority of CSU students were white,” the report states.

The CSU’s Board of Trustees will discuss tuition at its meeting next week before May revisions.


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