Student tuition raises remain unclear


Craig Sanders

Despite an assurance from Gov. Jerry Brown that tuition will not increase for the next six years, both Sacramento State students and the administration remain skeptical.

Vice President and Chief Financial Officer Mike Lee is certain that tuition will not increase this next fiscal year, but beyond that, he is unsure.

“I think there is a stability in the next five to six years in terms of revenue for the state but I am cautious,” Lee said. “We can never predict what is going to happen.”

Brown’s latest budget proposal is consistent with his multi-year funding plan that called for no increases in tuition through 2017. The $142.2 million budget increase for the CSU system indicates tuition will not change for at least the next fiscal year.

Megan Daly, a sophomore pre-graphic design major, said she is thankful there are no immediate plans to increase tuition, but still has her doubts.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if tuition was raised,” Daly said. “I think everyone always increases prices.”

One reason Daly and other students are skeptical is the Board of Trustees makes the decision on tuition and does not have to listen to Brown’s proposal.

Steve Boilard, executive director for the Center of California Studies and former budget legislative analyst, said Sac State officials will not guarantee anything because the tuition freeze is nothing more than the governors expressed wishes.

“If God forbid there is some new big cut, the CSU system wants to reserve the right to increase,” Boilard said

Cipriano Vargas, CSU student trustee, agreed nothing with tuition is guaranteed because the Board of Trustees can say it does not agree with Brown, but said it would be a bad deal for the trustees since the governor controls their budget.

“We try to work with the governor and the state legislature to benefit the students so I don’t see us raising tuition in these next years,” Vargas said.

Even though tuition appears stable, some students and administrators are weary of campus fees, which are a separate pool of money. At Sac State, they are used to pay for services such as the Union, ASI and health facilities.

Daly said student fees are a loophole exploited by the campus and does not see the need to pay for entities like the Well or the Union because she does not use them.

“I don’t spend a lot of time on campus because I have to work a lot to pay for this damn school,” Daly said. “I would appreciate if those fees went to tuition aid for students who can’t pay.”

Both Vargas and Lee said the freeze on tuition has no effect on how much campuses will raise those fees.

Boilard said he understands why students would be upset.

“To a student, they do not care what you call it, it still costs more to attend school,” Boilard said. “I get that complaint but at least it isn’t going up by huge percentages like a few years ago.”

Lee said the situation would be a lot worse if Proposition 30 was not passed in 2012.  The state budget would have been cut by $250 million resulting in large increases in tuition.

Even if Brown’s plan is followed through and tuition stays the same, no one is certain what will happen after 2017.  One worry is that tuition will eventually increase greatly to compensate for the several years it has stayed flat.

“Assuming the governor is re-elected, I think the freeze will ride out,” Boilard said. “But the big worry is what will happen after six years.”

Daly said she would trust the university if she knew what all the money from tuition was being used for.

“We are so unaware of where it is actually going,“ Daly said. “So students are upset about how much it costs for a pretty median education.”