Students across the California State University (CSU) system could face an additional $150 per semester in tuition starting January 2013 if Gov. Jerry Brown’s sales and income tax increase, Proposition 30, doesn’t pass in November.
The CSU Board of Trustees voted last Wednesday, Sept. 19, to approve the tuition increase in the event that Proposition 30 fails and the CSU takes an additional $250 million trigger cut in state funding. This “trigger on trigger” tuition increase is a contingency plan in the event that Proposition 30 does not pass, CSU public affairs assistant Liz Chapin said.
Money from Proposition 30 will not go directly to the CSU system, though. If the proposition is passed, the money will be used to support public K-12 education and community colleges, freeing up other state funds for the CSU.
But the revenue from the $150 per student per semester tuition increase will only cover about a third of the money that could be cut from the CSU in January. The CSU expects the increase to amount to about $58 million in funds for the university system, Chapin said.
“That kind of shows you just how much that actually is and how much that would impact the university system,” Chapin said.
And though in the past the CSU has ensured tuition increases would only limit accessibility minimally by setting aside funds for financial aid, no new money is available for financial aid in the event that trigger tuition increases go into effect.
The CSU can barely handle the additional funding cuts, though, after losing $1 billion in state funding in the past 18 months, Chapin said.
“Normally we do set aside a portion of that to go specifically to financial aid,” Chapin said.
In this case, though, the trustees would have to approve an even larger tuition increase to supplement financial aid, Chapin said. The increase would result in a greater financial burden on those students who don’t qualify for financial assistance, Chapin said.
Nevertheless, some students, such as English senior Ashley Berry, believe the cost of tuition has already risen too high.
Berry spends more time worrying about paying for college than focusing on her studies, she said.
“It makes it harder to do anything,” Berry said. “I’m always worrying about money.”
CSU trustees need to understand the financial situation of students as well as the university system, Berry said.
Only three trustees — faculty trustee Bernadette Cheyne, student trustee Jillian Ruddell and Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson — voted against the measures to increase tuition in January, with the other 11 in favor of the trigger increase.
“The Board of Trustees are sort of out of touch with the people they’re responsible for,” Berry said.
Berry is in favor of Proposition 30, though, she said. The sales tax measure might mean businesses lose some money, but that money will come back into the economy with a more educated workforce, Berry said.
Berry sees Proposition 30 as an investment in the future, she said.
Other students aren’t hit as hard by tuition increases, such as environmental management and protection senior Keegan Aspelund. Rising school costs just make him more grateful to his parents, Aspelund said.
Tuition has gone up $1,000 per year since Aspelund was a freshman at Cal Poly, he said, increasing his own gratitude for his parents’ support, he said.
But for students whose parents can’t afford most of their tuition, the increase could damage the CSU’s attractiveness to potential students, Aspelund said, explaining that Cal Poly has an excellent reputation for the cost, but many other CSU campuses may be less appealing if tuition continues to rise.
“Cal Poly is still a really good deal compared to a lot of other universities,” Aspelund said. “For us, I don’t think it should affect Cal Poly too much.”