Sacramento State plans not to implement student success fee

State Hornet Staff

While 11 out of the 23 California State Universities have implemented an academic excellence or student success fee, Sacramento State will continue to use existing resources to allow more timely graduation of students.

Director of Presidential Communications John Kepley said discussions of implementing a fee last summer were nonspecific, and the university ultimately chose to continue supporting programs, such as a new progress-to-degree meter, under the Graduation Initiative to increase student success.

“The more as a university can engage with students and help them achieve and succeed academically, the better,” Kepley said. “This begins from before they are even admitted to campus to when they are about to graduate.”

Under CSU Executive Order 1054, campuses are allowed to impose student fees to fund improvements for the direct benefit of students, and “enhance the academic programs, improve the availability of courses and facilitate student progress.”

While student fees have been around for decades, CSU Director of Public Affairs Mike Uhlenkamp said the term student success fees is used to describe a fee that generates revenue for target areas that directly result in improving student success and completion rates

“Every campus serves a different student population,” Uhlenkamp said. “Typically what happens is a campus identifies a need for additional revenue that can be used to bolster student success in a variety of ways that leads to a proposal for a student success fee.”

Students and faculty protested the fees in March’s Board of Trustees meeting, arguing it does not benefit students and would inevitably cause failure.

Sacramento California Faculty Association President Kevin Wehr said the union has always opposed student fees and any other taxation on students because of the negative impact on access to the CSU.

“The name of this fee is downright Orwellian,” Wehr said. “It will not help students succeed. It will do the opposite. Students will have to work more, add shifts (and) add jobs in order to pay these fees and that detracts from their studies.”

The fees, which range from $120 (CSU Fullerton) and $630 (San Jose State) per academic year, are used for specific areas depending on the campus, such as faculty hiring, increased library hours and other services, such as advising and tutoring, that would benefit students.

“It’s about serving the students that are unique to that campus and bolstering the pragmatic offerings unique to that campus,” Uhlenkamp said.

CSU San Marcos implemented a $200 academic excellence and student success fee last fall to reduce time to graduation, expand library hours and resources and provide student academic support.

Margaret Lutz-Chantung, CSU San Marcos public information officer, said the campus has already seen an increased average unit load per student due to increased library availability, added sections for high-demand courses and bolstered tutoring and career advising.

“We recognize that a fee increase is a burden on our students,” Lutz-Chantung said. “But we also recognize that by not investing in student success, it means that student time to graduation would be reduced and there would be fewer resources to them.”

Kepley said discussions of a potential student success fee at Sac State did not include the total cost, what areas it would cover or when it would be implemented.

With ongoing projects such as the Dedicated to Educating, Graduating, and Retaining Educational Equity Students project, a CSU-funded initiative, and expanded tutoring and advising, the university will continue to emphasize student success with current resources.

“We certainly hope the California State University continues to fund the levels that we need to serve our students,” Kepley said. “We do a lot of work to make that happen. Questions about future funding are directly tied to what we get from the state.”