Taking action at a special board meeting Friday, the California State University trustees approved a 5% fee increase for undergraduate students for this fall to help alleviate steep cuts in state support.
The board voted 10 to 2 to adopt the fee hike, which translates to a $204 increase for full-time undergraduates, bringing the total university fee to $4,230 for the 2010-2011 academic year. With additional fees charged by each campus, the overall annual cost for an undergraduate to attend the university will rise to $5,097, not including housing or books.
Lt. Gov. Abel Maldonado, who serves as a member of the board because of his state office, and student representative Russell Statham cast dissenting votes. Trustee Margaret Fortune abstained.
The trustees also increased fees for graduate business and other professional degree students by 5% and approved a 10% fee increase for doctoral education students. The tuition cap for out-of-state students, which had been $11,160 annually, was also eliminated, and officials said that amount will now be based on the number of units taken.
University officials said the fee increases would help close a $100-million funding gap for the coming academic year. The 5% increase is expected to raise about $50 million. A funding proposal under consideration by the state Assembly's budget committee would provide an additional $50 million.
"The board's decision to limit the student fee increase to 5% is based on the Assembly budget proposal that provides additional state revenues," Cal State Chancellor Charles Reed said in a statement after the board meeting in Long Beach. "It will allow us to move forward with adding classes and sections for students this fall."
But passage of the Assembly measure is far from certain. In addition, a proposal by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to restore $366 million in state funding to the university assumes a 10% fee increase. Officials acknowledged that the board may have to consider additional increases in November if resources fall short.
Over the last two years, the 23-campus system with 433,000 students has sustained $625 million in state funding cuts, resulting in employee furloughs, reduced enrollment, fewer course offerings and other cost-cutting measures. Trustees raised undergraduate student fees 32% last fall.
Maldonado, who is seeking a full four-year term as lieutenant governor, acknowledged that the system was broken. But he questioned whether there might be alternatives to raising student fees.
"Is this the easiest thing to do or the last resort?" he asked at the meeting. "If we don't do this, can we cut more somewhere else? Can we cut from the top of the system? I'm going to vote no and hope this economy is going to turn around."
But another trustee, William Hauck, cautioned that the university should face reality and not count on receiving additional outside revenues.
"I don't think anyone on the board should delude themselves that we can support an operating budget of $4.2 billion a year through raising revenues," he said. "We have no choice."
The California State Student Assn. had supported a 5% increase as the best-case scenario, given the budget realities.
But outside the meeting Friday, about 30 students protested, arguing that trustees should consider alternates to raising fees.
Aileen Zurita, a biology major at Cal State San Bernardino, said the increase will make it harder for her to finish her degree.
"I'm already maxed out on loans," Zurita, 22, said. "I'll have to pay tuition next year out of my pocket. I only have one semester to go, but if I haven't saved enough money, I may have to wait out a semester."