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The Collegian

Fresno State's student-run newspaper

The Collegian

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Updated: CSU tuition increase is expected to raise $840 million in five-year plan

Daniel Hernandez/Golden Gate Xpress
Students protest against the proposed multi-year tuition increase in front of Glenn S. Dumke Auditorium in Long Beach, CA on Sep. 12, 2023. The California State University Board of Trustees voted for the hike 15-5

Following hours of tense discussion and proposed amendments, the California State University Board of Trustees approved a five-year annual tuition increase during its meeting on Wednesday, Sept. 13.

The discussion was tense and put the board further behind on their agenda schedule, but the trustees eventually approved the proposal with a 15-5 vote in an effort to generate more revenue for the CSU system.

“We understand the students and their challenges, but we face a difficult decision,” said Jack McGrory, a trustee. “We have a $1.5 billion deficit that has accumulated over the years because we haven’t taken any action in terms of changing tuition.”

The proposal will increase the statewide tuition fee yearly by 6% during a five-year period, starting with the 2024-25 academic year.

The CSU administration says this needs to be done for the benefit of future students. Among the students of today, however, many disagree.

“They give these out-of-touch administrators enormous salaries for doing nothing but making the lives of CSU students and faculty difficult. How can they call for a 6% annual increase when they have enough money to afford car allowances and housing stipends to their new chancellor…,” said Angel Rojas, a Fresno State graduate student in the History department. 

For the first year, tuition for undergraduate students will increase by $342 and $432 for graduate students. Over the course of the five years, the cumulative increase in tuition will be roughly 33%.

Students in a credential program currently pay $6,660 in tuition and will pay $8,918 by the 2028-29 academic year.

Fresno State student Bisman Sidhu spoke with The Collegian and expressed his anger toward the CSU board.

“I think it’s complete BS and doesn’t help students in no way except making it harder on them just for the selfish benefits of the board,” Sidhu said.

Steve Relyea, CSU executive vice chancellor and chief financial officer, said it is necessary to increase tuition as institutional expenses grow.

“The revenue from this tuition increase is essential to maintain the CSU’s financial stability to continue serving its students,” Releya said. “The absence of tuition increases in the past 11 years has prevented the CSU from keeping up with rising costs.”

Chair Wenda Long said the current budget hasn’t allowed the CSU to operate effectively.

“What we have done with our budget is defer costs and not fill vacancies,” Long said.

Trustee Lillian Kimbell said she believes the board had no choice but to pass the proposal to ensure students continue receiving the support they need.

“I just don’t think there’s any other option,” Kimbell said. “Other options would mean cutting services on campus, which would negatively affect our students.”

University officials state that the additional revenue from the tuition increase is meant to provide support in different areas such as the Title IX program, funds for students’ basic needs and facility maintenance.

However, one of the main concerns of the CSU is employee wages.

“The vast majority of our budget is toward our faculty and staff to inspire and teach our students,” said Ryan Storm, CSU assistant vice chancellor of budget.

Before the vote, Storm showed in a presentation that the CSU system will increase its spending for faculty and staff compensation by $221 million in its 2024-25 expenditure plan.

These funds are an addition to the $5.3 billion base funding to fund the CSU’s employees.

McGrory said the board had set aside tuition increases for too long.

“We’ve ignored tuition increases for the last 11 years and it’s 40% of our budget,” McGrory said. We feel it’s important to pay our employees a fair wage. If we don’t do the tuition increase, we would have to start cutting staff.”

Despite the CSU system’s budget gap, others are concerned that this proposal will make it even more difficult for students to afford college.

The passing of the proposal alarmed Lt. Gov. Eleni Kounalakis, who stated that increasing tuition would only discourage more students from going to college and push others to give up on higher education.

“A lot more students are going to drop out or take more time to graduate,” Kounalakis said. “The students we serve are students that can’t afford private universities or other public state universities.”

Fresno State ASI President Karen Carrillo expressed her concern about the tuition hike on an Instagram post and rejected the decision of the board of trustees.

“As your ASI president at Fresno State, I am deeply concerned and troubled by the CSU Board of Trustees decision to balance the CSU budget on the backs of students by increasing tuition,” Carrillo wrote. “The vote to increase tuition will make education less accessible and affordable for thousands of young people across the state and beyond. It is my hope the board of trustees will continue to explore alternative financial solutions to help aid the 40% of students who will be carrying the financial burden with this yearly 6% tuition increase. Students are the foundation of the CSU system and the CSU Board of Trustees decision to fill the CSU’s budget shortfall is irresponsible and further enables student exploitation due to the lack of leadership within the ranks of the CSU administration.”

Some trustees advised their colleagues that the students’ financial situations should be acknowledged.

Trustee Raji Kaur Brar shared her own experience with tuition.

“For me, the CSU is the people’s university, and we have to take into account the impact of tuition,” she said. “When I was a student I didn’t qualify for financial aid, had to work two jobs and pay for housing. I made it, but it was difficult.”

In addition to tuition fees, the CSU system also gets its funding from the state.

Student Trustee Jonathan Molina Mancia sees this as an alternative to increasing tuition rates and said students should have the chance to advocate for more funding.

“It’s tough as a student as I know how this will impact my fellow students,” he said. “Why can’t we take students to Sacramento to lobby about how beautiful our system is? Why can’t we get more money from the state?”

Diana Aguilar-Cruz, another student trustee, said this proposal could benefit students in the future but will harm them right now.

Cruz questioned the board about how students would currently be able to afford non-educational expenses during these five years.

“This proposal will benefit students in the long term but hurt them in the short term. How do we help students pay for housing and gas?” she said.

ORIGINAL STORY (updated 3 p.m. Sept. 13)

A five-year tuition increase of 6% annually was unanimously approved Wednesday at the California State University Board of Trustees meeting. 

The tuition increase will be implemented beginning the academic year of 2024-25.

Douglas Faigin, a member of the board of trustees, proposed an amendment to the original fee increase proposal. 

The amendment was presented by chair of the board Wenda Fong, as Faigin was not present.

“The amendment is instead of the five years at 6%, would we consider three years at 6%,” Fong said.

The proposed amendment was voted down.

Board member Julia Lopez, then called for a vote for the main proposal, and the tuition fee increase was approved by a vote of 15-5. 

Currently, the tuition fee statewide for full-time CSU students is $5,742. It will increase to $7,682 by the end of the five-year plan. For graduate students it will go from $7,176 to $9,612. 

This is a $1,940 increase for undergraduate students and a $2,436 increase for graduate students in the next five years.

Overall, the increase is expected to raise $840 million by the end of the five year plan, according to the Los Angeles Times.


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