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Tuition hike proposal stirs mixed feelings

If a pending proposal is approved, an increase in tuition for California State University (CSU) and University of California (UC) institutions may take effect in 2017.

Laurie Weidner, assistant vice chancellor of public affairs for the CSU chancellor’s office, said tuition fees may have to increase if the state does not provide additional money to plug a funding gap.

“There is a pretty substantial gap between what we anticipate the state may provide this year, which is $157.2 million, versus what our actual needs are, which is $343.7 million,” Weidner said.

The goal, she said, is to work with students and stakeholders to urge the state to fully fund CSUs.

“If for some reason the state does not fund the university fully, then we have to look at other funding options to fill that gap, and the CSU has two funding sources – the state and tuition fees that are paid by students and their families,” Weidner said.  

Fresno State students currently pay an average of $6,000 in fees and tuition per year, according to the university’s website. If a tuition increase takes place, $270 would be added to undergraduates’ tuition per year. UC undergraduate students would have to pay an additional $280 per year.

Institutions will be able to use the funds to provide more faculty, academic advisers and expand the numbers of courses offered to students, Weidner said.

“I think especially when you need help getting into classes or want a lower student-to-teacher ratio, that [more resources] would be good,” said Alexa Cota, civil engineering major.    

However, Carmen Arriaga, Spanish major, said she is not sure if having more faculty and advisers would be that much more beneficial to students.

“I feel like it would depend on what specific subjects they would give those teachers,” Arriaga said. “I feel like for Spanish – I don’t think that is a big major, so I would doubt that the funding would go for Spanish teachers.”

Cota said, although there will be more resources for students, she thinks the university is doing well with the current number of employees and does not need to hire more.

Weidner said CSU officials want to surround students with additional support.

“That includes additional support, faculty and additional academic advisers who support them on their academic journey when reaching their degree,” Weidner said.

Although tuition may go up, Weidner said the proposal is still in its consultation period.

The board of trustees will be reviewing the budget between February and May 2017.

The increase may not be necessary, Weidner said.

“It will depend on what our budget is, but we don’t get our budget until June, and our classes begin in August,” she said.

If there is a need for an increase in tuition, students will have to pay the additional fees starting in fall 2017.