By | Maricela Wexler
On March 22, the California State University Board of Trustees voted 11-to-8 to increase student tuition for the 2017-18 academic year by $270 for undergraduates. There are over 100,000 more students enrolled in the CSU system today than in 1985 and concurrently funding has decreased by 2.9 percent. The state’s gradual abandonment of CSU funding commitments has pressured the Board of Trustees to find alternative financial support for institution services.
The recent vote came as a blow to students and their families statewide who are already struggling with the costs of education. The CSU system is a public institution that relies on state funding to provide high quality education for its students. (jump) With diminishing state support, universities increasingly rely on students and their families to fill the void.
An increase of $270 for the 2017-18 academic year is especially tolling for the large number of low-income students currently enrolled in the CSU system. According to a report commissioned by CSU Chancellor Timothy White, 1 in 10 CSU students today experience homelessness during their college career and one in five do not routinely have enough food. Amidst rising living costs, the state of California is investing $6,888 per student in the California State University system as opposed to the $11,607 it invested in 1985.
The recent Board of Trustees decision strengthens pre existing barriers to higher education for current and prospective low-income students. Additionally, the quality of education students receive is compromised due to insufficient resources. As detailed in the California Faculty Association Spring 2017 report, “Equity Interrupted”, instead of providing a system designed to maximize access and quality for the benefit of the state of California, CSU’s are shrinking access to higher education because of increased tuition, and failing in its duty to support the new generation of CSU students so that they will help our state prosper in the 21st century.
Cost of tuition is not the only thing that has changed in California over the last 30 years. According to the CFA report, the CSU had over 150,000 more students in 2015 than it had in 1985, a student body increase of 64 percent over those 30 years. In 1985, 63 percent of the CSU student body identified as white, and only 27 percent identified with another ethnic group. By 2015, this changed to 26 percent and 62 percent, respectively. CFA Associate Vice President Dr. Cecil E. Canton said in front of the State Assembly in 2016, “as the student body of the CSU became darker, funding became lighter.”
Students around the state have been advocating for the CSU system to reclaim its title as the “people’s university” by demanding free, safe, inclusive, and quality higher education. Students opposing tuition hikes are now moving attention towards the updated budget proposal to be submitted by Governor Jerry Brown’s office this May. Those fighting tuition hikes have not lost hope. There is potential for the Board of Trustees to vote against tuition hikes in the future, which could put pressure on the state to increase the education budget. Other proposals and bills have surfaced, including Assembly Bill 393 which would prohibit California State University and the California Community Colleges from increasing tuition and any mandatory student fees until the end of the 2019-2020 school year.
Student groups currently focusing on this issue at Humboldt State University include: M.E.Ch.A., HSU Green, I.N.R.S.E.P., Double Dare Ya, Humboldt Unity Coalition Front, and Associated Students of HSU, and Power Up!. To find out more about the recent tuition hikes, relevant upcoming legislation, and how the CSU Board of Trustees operates, visit the Cal State website.
Maricela Wexler submitted this piece on behalf of Power-Up! A student advocacy group at HSU. Power-Up!