A newly proposed “Student Success Fee” would help Cal Poly students get the classes they need and finish their degrees on time, Cal Poly vice president for finance Larry Kelley said.
The fee was proposed as a solution to state funding cuts that have forced Cal Poly to create larger class sections or cut sections entirely from the curriculum, Kelley said. If passed, the Student Success Fee would cost Cal Poly students $160 per quarter starting Fall 2012, before going up to $210 per quarter in Fall 2013 and $260 in Fall 2014.
Cal Poly administration is aware of the burden rising tuition is placing on families, Kelley said. The Student Success Fee was proposed with this in mind.
“With the fee, the total cost to attend Cal Poly would actually be less,” he said.
Though the fee would increase the yearly tuition cost for students, it would help to lower the total cost of a Cal Poly education by offering more available class sections and shortening the number of years a student has to spend in school, Kelley said.
The money from the fee would also be used to provide needed lab equipment, Kelley said.
Cal Poly is now beginning the consultative process for the fee, introducing the idea to the public before putting it to a student vote in the spring.
“Faculty, staff and students have been exposed to the idea, but the consultative process will provide more,” Kelley said.
Political science professor Mike Latner is one of the faculty members who were introduced to the idea, but he remain undecided about whether or not the fee is a good idea.
He said higher costs make public education more exclusive, which goes against the principles behind public universities.
“I think in principle, I should be opposed to it because the ideal is that California public education is going to be affordable for all citizens,” Latner said.
At the same time, Latner said budget cuts limit the number of classes and sections the political science department can offer students. This limiting effect is not isolated to the political science department.
“I think every department has had to visibly tighten their belt over the last few years,” Latner said. “That’s certainly the case in political science.”
The goal of every instructor at Cal Poly is to help students get the classes and information they need to get a degree, Latner said, but the loss of state funding makes that goal more difficult to achieve.
“Without enough staff assignments and without enough seats available, that’s not going to happen,” Latner said.
Students are also divided on the idea of a new fee.
Fees seem to be continually increasing, but no effects are visible, architecture senior John Tuthill said.
“You just wonder where all that money is going,” Tuthill said. “You don’t really see anything changing.”
Tuthill has been at Cal Poly for four years, and his out-of-state tuition has increased every year, he said. But with one more year left at Cal Poly, he is not opposed to the proposed student success fee.
“I’m paying out-of-state (tuition),” Tuthill said. “What’s an extra $160?”
Other students, such as biological sciences freshman George Kalu, who would have to pay the student success fee for at least the next three years, see increasing fees as an unavoidable future.
“I feel like they’re high, and they’re going to keep going higher,” he said. “It’s not going to be easy for people’s families.”
Despite the hardship, Kalu said he understands why universities raise fees.
Kalu said he and his friends felt the effects the lack of funding has had on the school when registering. Although he got the classes he wanted, the limited number of sections being offered in winter quarter posed a problem for some of his friends, he said.
“I’ve been able to just because my registration was early, but I know that a lot of people with later registrations are stressing out because they won’t get the classes they want,” Kalu said.