The California State University (CSU) Board of Trustees approved a plan on Wednesday to raise tuition by 6% annually for five years, starting from the 2024-25 academic year. The decision sparked protests and criticism from students, faculty and labor groups, who argued that the increase would limit access and affordability for the state’s largest public university system.
Why the Tuition Hike?
According to CSU officials, the tuition hike is necessary to address a $1.5 billion funding gap that the system faces due to rising costs of education, institutional support and student services. The report by a CSU workgroup released in May stated that the system only has enough revenue to cover about 86% of its actual costs, leaving it with a huge deficit.
The report also noted that the CSU’s budget relies on two main sources of revenue: state funding and tuition fees. However, both sources have been insufficient to meet the system’s needs. The state funding has not kept pace with the high costs of operating the nation’s largest state university system, and the tuition fees have not been increased since the 2011-12 academic year.
The CSU Board of Trustees said that without additional revenue, the system would have to cut course offerings, reduce faculty and staff, defer maintenance and compromise the quality of education for its more than 460,000 students across 23 campuses.
How Much Will It Cost?
The tuition hike will affect all CSU students, including undergraduate, graduate, credential and doctoral students. The annual undergraduate tuition for CSU will increase from the current $5,742 to $6,084 in the 2024-25 school year. The total would jump to $6,450 the following year, then to $6,840 in 2026-27, then to $7,248 and ultimately to $7,682 in 2028-29.
The proposal is projected to generate $148 million in new revenue for the system in the first year, and $1.1 billion over five years. However, the system would also increase student financial aid by $49 million in the first year, and $367 million over five years. CSU officials said that about 60% of CSU students would not be affected by the tuition hike because their tuition is fully covered by grants or waivers.
What Is the Reaction?
The tuition hike proposal faced strong opposition from students, faculty and labor groups, who held protests and rallies outside the Office of the Chancellor in Long Beach on Tuesday and Wednesday. They said that the increase would create significant financial hardship for students amid the rising cost of living and housing in California. They also questioned the transparency and accountability of the CSU’s budget process and spending priorities.
Some students said that they already struggle to pay for their tuition and other expenses, and that they have to work multiple jobs or take out loans to make ends meet. They said that taking on more debt or dropping out would be their only options if tuition goes up.
Some faculty and staff said that they deserve fair pay and working conditions, and that they have not seen any salary increases or improvements in their contracts for years. They said that they are essential workers who provide quality education and services to students, and that they should not be blamed for the system’s financial woes.
Some members of the Board of Trustees also expressed their concerns and reservations about the tuition hike plan. They said that they understand the need for more revenue, but they also worry about the impact on students and families. They said that they hope for more support from the state government and other sources to fund the CSU’s needs.
What Is Next?
The tuition hike plan will take effect in fall 2024, unless the state provides sufficient funding to cover the CSU’s budget gap. The Board of Trustees said that they will continue to advocate for more state funding and explore other revenue options to support the system’s goals and priorities.
The Board of Trustees also said that they will monitor the implementation and outcomes of the tuition hike plan, and that they will review it annually to make any adjustments as needed. They said that they will seek input from stakeholders and provide transparency and accountability throughout the process.