In an effort to bridge a $1.5 billion budget gap, students across the Cal State University’s 23 campuses could see tuition rates increase by 6% annually over the next five years.

The CSU Board of Trustees will decide the contentious proposal, which has spurred protests from student groups, at their meeting Wednesday.

The proposed tuition increase would raise costs by 6% annually for undergraduate, graduate and doctoral students beginning in the fall of 2024. Undergraduates would pay $324 more at the start of next year, a total of $6,084, and that rate would increase gradually to $7,682 by 2028-29.

Initially, the series of hikes had no end date. It later was confined to five years when in July, students and faculty pushed back on the proposal, voicing concerns that the hike would make college increasingly unaffordable for its students—even though 33% of the increased revenue accumulated is going toward campus financial aid, known as the State University Grant.

Union members protest with signs and banners. Signs reading "CSU: Step up or Strike Out!" are visible.
Members from nearly every labor union representing approximately 60,000 employees at
California State University continue their “Summer of Solidarity” campaign with a rally outside the CSU Chancellor’s Office on Tuesday, July 11, 2023, over concerns including fair wages and tuition increases. Photo by Tess Kazenoff.

“The majority of students in the CSU are students of color, and the CSU should not be balancing its budget on their backs and on their shoulders,” Charles Toombs, California Faculty Association president and professor at San Diego State, said at a July rally opposing the hike.

The CSU says that the increase in tuition, the first since the 2011-2012 academic year, is necessary to close the budget gap it has accumulated as it’s attempted to keep up with rising costs like inflation and funding needed for tutoring support, instructor pay and other costs tied to educating and graduating students.

If approved, the CSU would generate an extra $148 million in the first year of the plan, and $840 million by the 2028-2029 school year.

Tuition rates will be reassessed beginning in July 2027 to give the board “sufficient time to consider whether any additional tuition rate changes would be implemented for the 2029-30 year,” according to the CSU website’s frequently asked questions page regarding the proposal.

Nearly 60% of Cal State’s students would be unaffected by the tuition hikes because they receive state financial aid that covers their costs in full and the CSU has said that the burden will not fall on the remaining 40% of students.

The university system said about 18% of students would be helped by a combination of grants, scholarships or waivers. Other students receive loans, the university said.

The system has said in the past that without the revenue, it would have no choice but to offer fewer courses to students and cut academic and support services because of employee layoffs.

The board will meet to vote on the proposal at 8 a.m. Wednesday, Sept. 13, at the CSU Chancellor’s Office located at 401 Golden Shore in Long Beach. The meeting livestream can be found here.