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CSU Board votes to raise tuition

City News Service | 3/23/2017, midnight
The finance committee of the California State University Board of Trustees voted Wednesday to raise tuition by 5 percent for ...

The finance committee of the California State University Board of Trustees voted Wednesday to raise tuition by 5 percent for the 2017-18 school year to address a shortfall in funding from the state in the face of increased demand for programs.

The committee approved the proposal on a 7-2 vote, with amendments to rescind the hike if sufficient state funding comes through, and calling for reports over the next two years detailing how the additional dollars are spent.

The full board heard public comment before taking a final vote.

Under the proposal, annual in-state tuition would increase by $270, from $5,472 to $5,742. A similar increase is proposed for non-resident tuition, along with increases in graduate, doctoral and teacher-credential programs. The increase is projected to generate $77.5 million in the 2017-18 school year. “I don’t bring this forward with an ounce of joy. I bring it out of necessity,” CSU Chancellor Timothy White told the trustees as students in the audience booed.

A staff report to the board says the CSU “remains committed to keeping costs as low as possible for students. More than 60 percent of all CSU undergraduate students receive grants and waivers to cover the full cost of tuition. Nearly 80 percent of all CSU students receive some form of financial assistance.”

Those percentages would be maintained even with a tuition increase, CSU’s chief financial officer told the board, in part because $39 million in financial aid will be added.

But many students said they still can’t afford an increase. Before the meeting, dozens gathered outside the CSU Chancellor’s office, where a graveyard of headstones featuring the names of each of the CSU campuses was set up.

“The more we pay, the longer we stay,” students chanted, saying working more hours meant they couldn’t attend the classes needed to graduate. Dozens of students in graduate caps and gowns made their way inside the board room, some wearing signs around their necks showing the amount of student debt they had accrued.

They periodically interrupted the meeting to shout “Chancellor White, do what’s right!” or “mic check” when they disagreed with comments by the trustees.

“Students are exhausted and they’re justfighting for a way to survive,” a Cal State Fullerton student told the board during public comment. “We need you guys to help.”

A group known as the Students for Quality Education say that while tuition has been frozen for four years, the cost of attending CSU increased by 283 percent between 2002 and 2012.

Gov. Jerry Brown’s budget proposal released in January included a $157.2 million increase in state funding for the CSU system, but it was still $167.7 million short of what the CSU had requested. In addition to the tuition increase, CSU officials said they plan to continue lobbying for increased funding from the state.

In January, the University of California Board of Regents approved a roughly 2.5 percent tuition increase for the 2017-18 academic year, raising base in-state tuition from $11,220 to $11,502, along with a $54 increase in the student services fee, from $1,074 to $1,128.

Out-of-state UC students will pay the same increases in base tuition and fees, along with a $1,332 jump in supplemental tuition, which will increase to $28,014. The total increase for non-resident students will be $1,668.