Cal State raises fees 12 percent

  • July 13, 2011

By Jeb Bing

California State University trustees approved a 12% tuition hike Tuesday that will take effect at Cal State East Bay and other CSU campuses this fall.

Minutes later, trustees also voted to raise the salary for incoming president Elliot Hirshman at San Diego State University by $100,000 over his predecessor.

CSU officials said the tuition increase is expected to help close the budget gap created by $650 million in state funding cuts. It will generate $150 million for the CSU system, with the remaining $400 million shortfall to be saved through cutbacks and an additional 10% tuition hike approved last November.

The board is also planning to reduce enrollment by roughly 10,000 students statewide. Campus budgets will be reduced by a combined $281 million, according to CSU officials.

The increases will bring annual tuition for CSU campuses to $5,472.

Students and faculty have criticized the board because of the hikes, which became necessary when tax increases proposed by Gov. Jerry Brown were blocked by the Legislature.

Brown himself issued a letter Tuesday criticizing the board for planning to raise the salary for San Diego State's Hirshman while asking students to pay dramatically increased tuition.

A story in today's edition of the Sacramento Bee reports that Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, a CSU board member, voted against both the tuition increase and the compensation package. He told his colleagues that the university would damage its public image by raising salary and tuition on the same day.

"I caution us today with these two decisions and I feel compelled to make this point," Newsom said. "There are plenty of people watching, and people we need as supporters."

Cal State Los Angeles psychology professor Kimberly King also told the board before its vote that the proposed increases would hurt all students but lower income students in particular.

"The students that are paying will be paying more and getting less," she said.

She also said that the board should consider the effect on undocumented students, who will be ineligible for financial aid because of state and federal law, and potentially unable to receive an education.

The board acknowledged these concerns, and officials said they would continue to lobby the state legislature for a change in funding structure. The dilemma, they said, was that revenue was unavailable from the state because of the structure of state funding and reduced revenue resulting from the economic downturn.

"We have nothing but dilemmas here on a continuing basis," Chancellor Charles B. Reed said.

The CSU system faces additional cuts of $100 million mid-year if state revenue projections are not met, and are bracing to potentially make additional cuts or fee increases.

Prior to the vote, CSU officials said that state funding to the CSU system is roughly the same as it was during the 1998-99 school year. However, at that time the system served 72,000 fewer students.

Adjusted for inflation, CSU received more than $10,000 per student from the state in 1998-99, but now receives less than $6,500 per student.

One-third of the revenue from the tuition increase will be allocated for financial aid, but many are still concerned that lower income students will still be faced with untenable costs that may keep them out of college.

Hirshman, who began earlier this month as the president of San Diego State, now has a compensation package that includes a salary of $400,000, with $50,000 paid for with private funds from the university's foundation.

His predecessor, Stephen Weber, earned an annual salary of $299,435 at the end of his 14-year tenure at the helm of San Diego State.

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