Student tuition increases in response to cuts in budget

Brett Johnson and Logan Reis

As a last-minute response to the drastic cuts in state funding, the California State University Board of Trustees in July increased tuition 12 percent for the fall 2011 semester.

Sacramento State full-time undergraduate students will have to pay an additional $294 to remain enrolled for the upcoming fall semester. This tuition increase brings the annual total for full-time undergraduate students up to $5,472.

The CSU Board of Trustees approved the tuition increase on July 12, and the fees were first posted on Sac State students’ accounts on July 22.

The increase was due to the $650 million cut in CSU funding by the Legislature and Gov. Jerry Brown. With the recent cuts, the CSU’s support from the state is now lower than it has been in more than 10 years.

In November 2010, trustees approved a 10 percent increase in tuition. This was done in anticipation of cuts from the upcoming state budget and to prepare for future budget cuts.

“The CSU thought it would be a bad budget year, and we were right,” said Erik Fallis, CSU spokesman. “However, it was much worse than we thought it would be.”

In May, the state budget cut $500 million out of funding for the CSU system. From this, $400 million was cut from enrollment, programs and services.

On top of the $500 million cut, another $150 million in state support was cut in July, bringing the most recent 12 percent tuition increase to students in the CSU system.

By Dec. 15, California’s Department of Finance will determine if further steps are essential to meet the state’s budget requirements. This additional cut to the budget is referred to as the “trigger” provision.

If this provision passes, the CSU and University of California systems could each be looking at another $100 million cut in state support. Right now it is unclear whether this would mean mid-year tuition increases for students.

“The CSU has never been a fan of the ‘trigger’ provision,” Fallis said. “Just imagine what it takes to plan our financials for the entire CSU system and then hear, ‘Oh, by the way, we might take another $100 million out of your budget.’ It makes for a difficult situation.”

A July 13 message from the CSU Chancellor’s Office stated that one-third of the money from the tuition increase will be used for financial aid, and an estimated 170,000 students  will be covered for the increase.

According to the CSU, almost 412,000 students are enrolled in the CSU system. Based on this information, that leaves 242,000 students paying out of pocket for the rate increase.

Steven Reece, sophomore business major, said he had to borrow the extra money for tuition from his grandmother.

“She said I could pay it back with money or do yard work for her for the rest of the semester,” Reece said as he laughed. “I don’t know which one sounds worse at this point.”

Karen Einchorn just transferred from American River College. She had no idea about the increase in tuition until the week before the semester began.

“I never checked my SacLink email, so I didn’t hear about the increase until my dad called me two days ago and told me,” Einchorn said.

Einchorn said she had taken out a loan through her bank to cover the cost of tuition.

“What’s another $300 on top of the $50,000 I’m looking at when I graduate?” Einchorn said.

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