Dozens of students in the California State University (CSU) system recently rallied in protest outside university headquarters in Long Beach where a board meeting was being held to discuss fee increases.

Students were outraged, and took the meeting as an opportunity to speak out and urge officials to find an alternative means to increase revenue at the schools.

“It just places a bigger burden on us students who are trying to pay for school and trying to graduate,” said Ruben Vazquez, 21, a senior majoring in aerospace engineering at Cal Poly Pomona. “It just really discourages us from continuing to pursue our education.”

Nonetheless, members of the CSU board of trustees voted to raise fees over the next year for a total of 15.5 percent.

The trustees voted 14-2 to adopt the 2010-2011 mid-year tuition increase with Lt. Governor Abel Maldonado and student trustee Nicole Anderson voting against the increase. Trustees also voted 13-3 to adopt a 2011-12 tuition increase with trustee Melinda Guzman joining Maldonado and Anderson in voting against the proposal.

The fees will go up five percent in the 2011 spring/winter semester and another 10 percent in the fall 2011 term, bringing the annual fees for a full-time undergraduate to $4,884 in the fall. This does not including individual student fees such as books, or room and board.

Students working toward recieving specific credentials will have to pay $5,670 for an academic year, and graduate students will pay $6,018 annually.

CSU officials maintained that the higher fees are needed to hire more instructors, and to add more than 6,000 needed classes.

This latest increase in the California’s largest university system means that fees have jumped 76 percent over the past five years, and specifically over the past year, tuition has risen by more than 30 percent.

As is standard policy for the CSU and the University of California, one-third of the money raised through a fee hike will go into financial aid, which will benefit only half of all CSU students. Customarily, families who earn less than $70,000 a year will have the fee waived, or it will be covered by the grants they receive.

During the meeting, the CSU board did adopt a budget for the 2011-12 school year, which requests that the state provides an additional $121.5 million on top of their current budget appropriation. If it is approved, the university would use the money to overturn the fall 2011 fee hike that was approved.

“We are hopeful that the incoming governor and the legislature will realize the importance of providing the funding to support the services critical for the success of these students,” said CSU Chancellor Charles Reed.

In the coming week, it is expected that the University of California’s Board of Regents will vote on raising tuition in the UC system by eight percent at all campuses. If that hike is approved, undergrads will pay $11,124 in annual tuition, which doesn’t include individual campus fees or room and board.