CSU budget guarantees no tuition increase for one more year

In recent years, Sonoma State students had to deal with shrinking class offerings and rising tuition costs due to the California budget cuts and the economic crisis.  Over the last two years, the California State University (CSU) system has seen a 12 percent increase in applications, but has had to turn away 25,000 eligible applicants.

“The budget cuts affected me because I am not able to take enough classes to get prerequisites out of the way for my major, and almost guarantees I will have to take an extra semester or year to graduate,” said Marissa Marable,  junior and  kinesiology major.

The budget cuts that have plagued the CSU system amidst the economic downfalls in the recent years, have also affected student athletes who have greater limitations on class availability.

“Being a student-athlete is frustrating because there is already a limited amount of classes offered for my major [Business Administration], so if a certain class is offered during practice time, I won’t be able to enroll, which leads to more semesters in school,” said Margaret Osmundson,  junior and member of the Sonoma State women’s soccer team.

The California State University general fund budget was raised to $2.499 billion for the 2014-15 budget year. 

“That is an increase of $142.2 million in general fund allocation from the state for this academic year, we are still operating at the 2004-05 funding level when the system was serving 50,000 fewer students,” said Stephanie Thara, a web communications and public affairs specialist for the office of the CSU chancellor. 

Chancellor Timothy White has said that the $142.2 million increase will allow the CSU system to maintain its existing programs and services. The increase will also allow tuition fees to stay the same for a fourth consecutive year.   

While the budget request by the trustees was $95 million more than what the CSU received, it is still a step in the right direction for both faculty and students alike across the state of California.  

“The CSU is doing its part, graduating more than 100,000 students into the workforce annually and we stand ready to do more,” said Chancellor White. “But we can only increase the number of graduates with the adequate, sustained funding needed to hire more faculty and staff to serve our students, to increase employee compensation in order to recruit and retain the best individuals and to address facility and infrastructure needs.” 

Vice President of Administration and Finance, Laurence Schlereth has said that the funds allocated to Sonoma State University out of this years budget will primarily go toward to enrollment growth, compensation for employees and revenue to cover the mandatory costs of the university and health care benefits.

President Ruben Armiñana spoke of the increase in faculty and the stability of tuition and fee costs.  

“Eleven new faculty members and pay raises are forthcoming as contract negotiations are concluded and no fee increases were added,” said Armiñana.  

These new faculty members were spread across many departments on campus, which allowed Sonoma State to add more classes.  The goal is to continue this pace for the next few years.  

“The new funds to Academic Affairs will permit the hiring of 19 new tenure track faculty members.  New funds to Administration and Finance will largely be used to support efforts in campus maintenance and repair as well as enhancements to campus safety and instructional technology,” said Schlereth. “It is the plan of the campus to upgrade each of our approximately 70 classrooms over the next three years.”

Both Armiñana and Thara said they are hopefully that there won’t be any tuition raises next either.

When asked about the Student Success Fee, Thara said “new state law places a moratorium on new student success fees until January 2016.  

In addition, the Chancellor is required to review the CSU Fee Policy as it relates to student success fees and recommend any changes to the board by February 2015.  The board has the discretion to act on those recommendations.”

California, the CSU system and Sonoma State are all still rebounding from the economic crisis.  More classes and faculty are being added every year, infrastructure and buildings are being repaired or replaced slowly.  Sonoma State and its faculty and students won’t see changes overnight, but positive changes are forthcoming.