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Student fee increases proposed

Fresno State is considering two student fee hikes that could cost students hundreds of dollars, and, if approved, could take effect as early as Fall 2014.

A “student success” fee increase that may range anywhere from an estimated $50 to $100 and an increase in the athletic fee likely to be higher than that will be considered by Fresno State President Joseph Castro this semester.

However, the fees still have a lot of campus discussion ahead of them, said Interim Provost Andrew Hoff.

“The key thing about it is having the open forums and the open opportunity for people to participate, give their points of view and talk to the president,” he said.

The student success fee would be aimed at garnering additional funds for programs believed to increase graduation rates.

Budgets for services such as tutoring programs, supplemental instruction programs and high-impact programs could be increased if the fee boost is adopted.

The possible hikes resulted, at least partially, as part of a new push by the California State University system to increase graduation rates in its universities. During his State of the CSU speech last month, Chancellor Timothy White announced an ambitious plan to increase graduation rates by 10 percent within a decade.

A $100 student success fee increase at Fresno State would generate $4.4 million, Hoff estimated. But he also said that most likely the initial fee increase would only be $50.

The athletics fee would likely be higher than the student success fee but is still in development.

“The athletics fee hasn’t been formalized to any great degree,” Hoff said. “The idea is that academics and athletics should rise in a parallel fashion — that they are an integral part of the university from both sides.”

Fresno State athletics currently receives a portion of its budget through the Instructionally Related Activities Fund.

The IRA Fund is a $132 mandatory cost for students attending the university. Of that, $92 goes toward athletics.

While the finalized structure of the fee increases has yet to be developed, faculty and staff raised some questions at a forum Tuesday, in which they met to discuss the college’s ongoing Provost search.

Faculty asked how the fee increase will affect students on financial aid and the quantifiable value of the student services that would receive increased funding.

“It’s really hard to say how the students would respond,” Hoff said. “I can imagine the idea of additional fees is never easy. I think the president is probably looking at it from a leadership perspective of where he sees the university going.”

Castro was not immediately available for comment.