Protesters outside the CSU Chancellor's Office. Photo courtesy of Michaela Kwoka-Coleman.
Today, the California State University Board of Trustees approved a 5 percent tuition increase, or $270, for the fall 2017 term, with the projected $77.5 million in net revenue earmarked for student success initiatives, CSU officials announced.
The tuition increase is the first since 2011 for the CSU system and will pay for programs such as Graduation Initiative 2025 and allow for more faculty, courses and advisors, officials said.
“The university faces a critical juncture where additional revenue is needed if we are to continue the trajectory that has seen campuses reach all-time highs in graduation rates,” said Steve Relyea, CSU executive vice chancellor and chief financial officer, in a statement. “If our advocacy efforts do not result in adequately funding the trustees’ budget request, the revenue generated by this increase will allow us to add faculty, courses, advisors and other resources to improve students’ opportunities for success. This is not a course of action that is taken lightly. Through the university’s robust financial aid program we will ensure that students who require the most financial assistance will not face any additional burden associated with the tuition increase.”
The vote, cast at the CSU Chancellor’s Office in downtown Long Beach, was 11-8. Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon and state schools Superintendent Tom Torlakson were among those dissenting.
The trustees also approved two amendments—one to rescind the hike if sufficient state funding comes through and another calling for reports over the next two years detailing how the additional dollars are spent.
Dozens of CSU students gathered inside and outside the CSU Chancellor’s Office in opposition to the tuition hike, holding signs, chanting and even erecting a mock graveyard of headstones featuring the names of each of the CSU campuses.
Current protest against tuition increases at CSU Office of the Chancellor pic.twitter.com/g8zWigLIsd— Michaela Kwoka (@newsmichaelakc) March 22, 2017
California Faculty Association (CFA) President Jennifer Eagan, a professor at CSU East Bay, expressed disappointment in the board’s vote.
“Those of us who teach the more than 450,000 CSU students striving to earn their degrees are painfully aware that the CSU system is severely underfunded,” Eagan said in a statement. “We feel it in our classrooms, in talking with our students, and in how many faculty and staff struggle to support our own families. And at the same time, we are well aware that returning to the failed strategy of piling ever-increasing costs and debt onto CSU students will never solve that problem.”
Eagan vowed to redouble the CFA’s efforts to pass AB 393, the Student Protection Act, which would stop any fee increases until the 2019-30 academic year.
Assemblywoman Sharon Quirk-Silva of Fullerton, who authored AB 393, also expressed disapproval with the vote, and continued efforts toward passing the bill.
“We continue to press forward, and strongly oppose this tuition increase which would continue to put a burden on working and middle-class families,” Quirk-Silva said in a statement. “The 11-8 vote illustrates the growing sensitivity and sharp divisions of the issue up and down our state.”
The CSU Board of Trustees today approved a 5% tuition increase for the fall 2017 term.— Long Beach Post (@LongBeachPost) March 22, 2017
Following today’s vote, State Senator Janet Nguyen announced the introduction of SB 236, to help combat rising tuition costs and increase access to higher education for California students.
The bill would freeze UC and CSU tuition rates for five years starting in 2018, place a 10 percent cap on the number of incoming out-of-state undergraduate students and would prohibit both institutions from providing state-funded financial assistance to undergraduate students who are not California residents, according to a release.
“Students throughout California are already struggling to pay for the rising costs of higher education,” Nguyen said in a statement. “The CSU and UC systems often resort to student tuition hikes to help their budgets, these arbitrary increases on students need to stop.”
Beginning fall 2017, the annual in-state tuition rate for a full-time undergraduate student will increase to $5,742. Similar increases were approved for non-resident tuition, along with increases in graduate, doctoral and teacher-credential programs.
More than 60 percent of all CSU undergraduate students receive grants or waivers to cover the full cost of tuition, resulting in more than 255,000 students not paying tuition, CSU officials said, so the increase will not have an effect on these students. In total, 80 percent of CSU students receive some form of financial aid. During 2015-2016, the university distributed more than $4 billion in aid.
City News Service contributed to this report.