The California State University (CSU) Board of Trustees voted Wednesday to approve a 5 percent tuition increase that will come into effect if the system is hit with another round of budget cuts following the November election, a move that drew criticism from students in attendance at the board’s meeting.
The fee hike — which comes to $100 per quarter for in-state students — is contingent upon the failure of Proposition 30 when it comes to the California voters later this year. Proposition 30 would raise California sales tax by a quarter of a percent and increase income tax on those earning more than $250,000 per year. If the proposition fails, the state will remove $250 million from the CSU in what many refer to as a “trigger cut” to the university system.
“The contingencies need to be acted on now, not kicked down the road and say, ‘Somebody’s going to come save us,’” CSU Chancellor Charles Reed said at the meeting Tuesday. “Because they’re not.”
Out-of-state students attending Cal Poly can also expect a 7 percent tuition hike on top of the $100 per quarter increase if the proposition fails, increasing the per unit cost from $248 to $265.
Student trustee Jillian Ruddell of California State University, Chico, who is serving her first term on the board, was among the three trustees who voted against the tuition raise. During Tuesday’s open meeting of the board’s financial committee, several students in the audience interrupted the proceedings as they interjected with comments about issues such as class offerings and administrative compensation.
Proponents of the approved tuition hike say the potential of a $250 million cut with no additional revenue could devastate the already declining CSU. Several rounds of budget cuts last year totaled $750 million in reduced state support to the university system, prompting unit caps, employee reductions and tuition raises — including Cal Poly’s Student Success Fee.
But a sign of hope for students amid the potential of another tuition increase is language in the board of trustees’ resolution that would refund this year’s tuition raise if Proposition 30 passes. Last year, the board approved a 9.1 percent tuition increase for students to take effect fall 2012, which CSU spokesperson Liz Chapin confirmed will be rescinded if the governor’s tax proposal passes in November.
Chancellor Reed said at the board of trustees meeting it would be an “administrative nightmare” to refund the tuition increase after accounting for financial aid, but trustees approved the measure along with the tuition increase Wednesday.
Trustees also chose to delay action upon a resolution that would increase tuition on students taking more than 16 units, those who have passed 225 units or students repeating a course.