Students, university to face tuition increase aftermath

Graphic by Christian Millan - Mustang Daily

A committee of the California State University (CSU) Board of Trustees voted to increase tuition for the 2011-2012 school year by an additional 12 percent July 12 in response to a $650 million cut in funding to the university system, nearly one-fourth of its financial support from the state.

The state budget, passed on June 30, included a $150 million cut to the CSU system, in addition to the $500 million cut in March. Cal Poly’s budget will still only be cut by $25.2 million, despite the additional cuts, according to public affairs team leader Stacia Momburg.

If the state budget doesn’t materialize as hoped, trigger cuts of $100 million will be applied to the university system for the second academic term.

“It hasn’t been a good run,” said Erik Fallis, media relations specialist for CSU.

Even though CSU officials anticipated up to a billion dollars in funding cuts, Fallis said the cut is still almost three-quarters of a billion dollars, and this is the second time in two years that state funding for CSUs was cut by half a billion dollars.

Although it will not cover the entire reduction, the tuition increase will provide $250 million for the system, Fallis said.

According to a CSU press release, one-third of this revenue will be allocated for financial aid. Approximately 170,000 students, which is more than half of all CSU students, will be covered for the tuition increase because of the provision, other grants and fee waivers.

Another $60 million will come from a 10,000 student enrollment reduction, and the rest of the money will come from a $10.8 million cut to the Chancellor’s Office and $281 million cut from individual campuses, Fallis said.

The tuition increase comes in addition to a 10 percent increase already established last fall, bringing annual CSU tuition to $5,472.

The Chancellor’s Office made an official recommendation in favor of increased tuition because alternative solutions, such as limiting access to campuses with further cuts to enrollment or continuing to cut classes and services, would have dramatic effects on education, Fallis said.

With other options, “you risk some long-term damage to the quality of the education,” Fallis said.

Both options would jeopardize the quality of education and the quality of faculty and staff because no one would want to work at a university with low-quality education, Fallis said.

“It would lead to a downward spiral in the quality of education provided,” Fallis said.

Cal Poly saw a 40 percent decrease — from $150 million to $90.5 million — in state funding in the past four years, Cal Poly President Jeffrey Armstrong said.

To offset the $25.2 million cut, Armstrong said the university is working to limit travel costs for faculty and staff, concentrating on improving availability of core classes, decreasing enrollment while admitting more out-of-state students and reducing faculty and staff through attrition, or holding positions of recently retired people, or people who quit, vacant.

“Taking in additional out-of-state students does not take away spots from California residents,” Armstrong said.

With or without additional out-of-state students, Cal Poly’s enrollment is still limited to 16,000 full-time equivalent students.

Although Armstrong said the deans, administrators and others are doing as well as they can to manage with Cal Poly’s budget, he said he was disappointed with some of the actions they had to take.

“It is not ideal and not good for the long-term success of students that faculty is cut through attrition,” Armstrong said.

Armstrong also said limiting travel expenditures will not help foster well-rounded faculty who are knowledgeable in all facets of their fields.

Despite some of the actions Cal Poly had to take, Armstrong said the quality of education will remain the same.

“Our programs require additional investment in order to maintain Cal Poly as Cal Poly,” he said. “Student quality and Learn By Doing are really nonnegotiable.”

To deal with budget constraints another university in the CSU System, San Francisco State University has responded in drastic ways. According to the Daily 49er, the university closed two of its eight colleges, College of Creative Arts and College of Behavioral and Social Sciences, and merged all degrees and programs within those colleges to other colleges on July 1.

For Cal Poly, Armstrong said the “reorganization of the colleges is not being discussed.”

“Our organizational structure is really efficient in six colleges,” he said. “I would be really, really reluctant to change that.”

Despite the additional cuts and tuition increase, no student or faculty rallies or protests were planned at or near the Cal Poly campus, according to organizers of the Cal Poly chapter of Students for Quality Education (SQE).

Giovanni Prinzivalli, a sociology senior who helped organize the April 13 Class Action rally, said the absence of members of SQE and students on campus is not conducive to organizing a rally.

Prinzivalli said only 30 to 40 people were at the rally at any given time, and approximately 400 to 500 people signed a petition against a then $500 million budget cut.

Prinzivalli also said there is complacency in the student body.

“Apathy prevents us from getting anything done,” Prinzivalli said.

Cal Poly students are less likely to protest or act out against something they don’t believe in because San Luis Obispo is a conservative area, and people are rich enough that budget cuts and tuition increases don’t really affect them, Prinzivalli said.

If tuition is increased, Prinzivalli, who takes out loans for his education, and his peers, won’t be able to keep up with it.

“I live with three to four people who can’t afford Cal Poly if prices go up,” he said.

Because of the lack of interest in budget issues among Cal Poly students, he said the next rally is planned for fall quarter, and SQE will work on generating interest and passion among students before hosting anything.

Prinzivalli said he hopes students will realize how much “administrative waste,” such as high salaries, plagues the university system.

“President Armstrong is a nice guy, but he didn’t need a raise, he didn’t need to have his house remodeled, he didn’t need a company car,” he said. “It’s those small things that add up and are ridiculous. It’s just wasted money.”

Prinzivalli said a related idea stuck out to him at the rally.

“We may be a welfare education but administration and legislation are not our enemies,” he said. “We just need to let them see that they have their priorities wrong and education should come first.”

Still, CSU officials said the price of CSU education is incredibly cheap for the quality it provides.

“If you took our fee system and put it in place of any other university system in any of the other 49 states, you would see that it’s a bargain,” Fallis said.