CSU: Pay more, get less

Another fee increase has hit Chico State University students—and for the first time there won’t be much in the way of new financial aid to help soften the blow.

The California State University Board of Trustees voted May 19 to move forward with the Higher Education Compact, a deal reached by the governor and CSU and University of California chancellors that promises to limit later cuts in exchange for schools giving up money and raising fees now.

But there’s one big difference from prior fee increases. It has been CSU policy that one-third of fees increases go toward financial aid, but the proposal calls for only one-fifth of the increase to assist needy students.

That bothers Associated Students President Adam Dondro. “It’s important for financial aid to remain coupled with fee increases.” With fees rising and without the help of financial aid, many students would find it very difficult to attend college, Dondro said.

The proposal calls for fees to increase 14 percent for undergraduates, 20 percent for teacher credential program participants and 25 percent for graduate students.

The estimated $101.5 million in revenue generated means that the CSUs will not have to reduce enrollment any further or lay off as many faculty and staff members as feared.

“This fee increase is a painful decision and one of many difficult issues the CSU has faced during this budget crisis,” CSU Chancellor Charles Reed stated in a press release.

This is the third increase in the last three years, and at the same time there has been a 21.6 percent reduction in the CSU’s budget.

A statement released by Lieutenant Governor Cruz Bustamante proposed an alternative: increasing the cigarette tax.

“Taxing cigarettes is a far better choice than balancing the budget on the backs of working- and middle-class families, many of whom are already saddled with unmanageable education debt,” Bustamante suggested.

The California Faculty Association agrees that the increase is unreasonable because the trustees have already raised undergraduate fees 43 percent in the last 18 months. Graduate tuition has increased 50 percent since 2001, which the CFA argues will leave the state with a shortage of certified teachers and registered nurses.

“We are disappointed by the CSU trustees’ vote to raise student fees again,” a CFA statement read. “The trustees’ action is, in effect, an end-run around the legislative process.”

The governor’s proposed compact still must face approval by the state Legislature.