California State University Chancellor Charles B. Reed, a much-maligned fellow in the eyes of many students, is proposing a 5 percent tuition increase for students in the upcoming semester, on top of which would be a 10 percent increase starting fall 2011.
CSU officials will meet tomorrow to begin discussing these two measures, though it seems that some sort of tuition hike will be agreed upon.
If the two proposals are enacted, undergraduate students would pay $2,220 for the spring semester and $4,884 for the 2011-12 school year.
According to The Fresno Bee, the CSU system has raised tuition four times since 2007. The school system, which touted itself as “tuition-free” in its 1972 Master Plan, has found itself cash-strapped during a worldwide economic crisis which has led to decreasing tax revenues for the state of California.
While we understand that it is difficult to continue to provide education at the same price during a recession that has been characterized as the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression, there must be a better way than potentially raising tuition six times in a four-year period.
In the recently approved 2010-11 California state budget, the CSU system received $199 million in restored funding and $60.6 million for increased enrollment. All of this was on top of $106 million in federal monies already received from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.
This, more than $365 million in funding for the CSU system, should be plenty for CSU trustees and Chancellor Reed to work with.
The CSU should concentrate on cutting spending in innovative ways rather than reflexively raising tuition or instituting furlough days.
There is much waste in the CSU system. A front-page story in The Collegian today points out that Fresno State potentially owes a great sum of money to Fresno County due to unpaid parking citation fees. This is an example of the type of waste that schools could cut out of their budgets, thereby lessening the burden of students and faculty.
The CSU system also has a problem with enrollment. By allowing students in en masse, universities short shrift already-enrolled students, who have to foot the bill for schools’ excess. The CSU should raise the standard by which students enter and force current students to maintain that standard.
CSU schools should quit expanding. Fresno State is building a $7.5 million aquatic center one year after completing the Henry Madden Library, a state-of-the-art library that cost tens of millions of dollars, and seven years after completing the Save Mart Center, a huge arena which cost tens of millions of dollars more. All of these are worthy expenditures that are beneficial both to students and the community, but the timing of these must be questioned.
The new state legislature must work with California’s new governor, Jerry Brown, who campaigned on improving California’s higher education, to fund the CSU system with the appropriate amount of money, whatever that may be.
Simply throwing money at higher education will not solve anything, but giving schools their funds with no strings attached would help them allocate the money in the best ways they see fit.
Raising tuition for students yet again is an egregious act by an out-of-touch, arrogant elite. Students already are dealing with overcrowded classrooms, high tuition and dropped classes. The fact that the CSU system overextended itself during an economic boom should not mean financial disaster for the millions of students who attend these universities.
Chancellor Reed, continue hiking tuition costs and you will not be able to depend on an apathetic student body accepting your decrees much longer.