California State University Board of Trustees to vote on tuition increase in March

California State University students haven’t had to worry about tuition hikes for the last six years. However, the 2017-2018 academic year could see a 4.9 percent increase by the Fall semester.

On Jan. 31 the Cal State Board of Trustees discussed a $270 tuition increase to fund a proposal designed to increase four-year graduation rates. Final vote due in March. Officials say the increase is needed to offset a decline in state funding.

“Governor Brown’s 2017-18 budget proposal allocated less than half of the additional $324.9 million in state funding the CSU needs, leaving a $168 million shortfall,” said California State University Spokesperson Elizabeth Chaplin. “If the state does not fully fund the CSU’s proposed 2017-18 support budget, the California State University Board of Trustees will need to consider difficult options, including increasing tuition.”

Chaplin said the tuition for undergraduates would go up by no more than $270 and would not affect Cal State University’s neediest students. In addition, Chaplin said, “More than 62 percent of students have their tuition fully covered by grants or waivers, which do not need to be repaid.”

Chaplin also stressed that the Cal State system is doing everything in its power to get funding from the state so students won’t have to pay more. 

“Trustees and Cal State leaders made it clear that the first and highest priority is to advocate in Sacramento for increased state funding to avoid this potential tuition increase,” Chaplin said. “Until the final state budget is released in June, CSU leaders, students and stakeholders will work with the governor and state legislative leaders to advocate for increased funding.”

Chaplin also said, “If the CSU receives sufficient funding from the state, an increase in tuition would be reduced or eliminated, and students would be refunded or credited if they had already paid the increased amount.”

Bailee Barr, a junior environmental science major at Sonoma State, said she gets her tuition covered by the Pell Grant. She thinks the graduation initiative could benefit a lot of students. 

“The cost of staying at school for an extra semester is much higher than a $270 tuition increase,” Barr said. “If the funds will go towards opening up impacted classes, less students would have to pay an extra semester of fees.”

Moshe Zrihen, a Santa Rosa Junior College student transferring to Sonoma State in fall 2017, says the tuition increase sounds very reasonable. 

“I am from the East Coast, and Sonoma State’s costs are unbelievably low, comparable to the cost of community college on the East Coast,” Zrihen said in comparison to his home state of Delaware. “California already gives so much money to its schools and students, so it’s difficult for me to complain.”

Not everyone is on board with the tuition hike, however. Emily Hinton, the current Associated Student President at Sonoma State, attended the recent Board of Trustees meeting with members of the Student Senate to learn more about the plans. 

“I have been working on this personally with our legislative board,”  Hinton said. “We are fighting this tuition increase because any increase in the cost of education is detrimental to the success of the students.”

Students for Quality Education formed in the 2007-2008 academic year to represent and organize students. In direct response to the possible tuition increase, SQE has started the #FreetheCSU campaign, uniting students and faculty to advocate for better university conditions. The groups end goal is to give everyone the possibility of free tuition. For more information, visit csusqe.org/freethecsu.