LONG BEACH, Calif. – The California State University system on Tuesday approved another 12 percent increase in student tuition this fall to offset a deeper-than-expected cut in state funding.
With a 13-2 vote, the CSU Board of Trustees passed the annual tuition hike of $588, which comes on top of a previously approved 10 percent increase for 2011-2012.
CSU officials said the increase is needed to maintain classes and services while avoiding large-scale enrollment cuts that would prevent tens of thousands of students from attending one of the system's 23 campuses.
"We don't take great delight in doing this," board Chairman Herbert Carter said at the meeting in Long Beach. "We do it because we think it is in the best interest of the young people of this state that this university be available to them."
Annual tuition for in-state undergraduates will increase to $5,472, which doesn't include room, board or campus fees averaging $950. That's more than three times what CSU students paid a decade ago.
Tuition will rise by $678 for credential program students and $720 for graduate students.
One-third of the new revenue will be set aside for financial aid. About 170,000 CSU students, almost half of all undergraduates, have all of their tuition covered by grants and fee waivers because their families earn less than $70,000 per year, according to CSU officials.
Critics say the tuition hikes will hurt middle-class and undocumented immigrant students who don't qualify for financial aid.
The recently approved state budget reduces CSU funding by $650 million, or more than 20 percent, to $2.1 billion. Administrators had been anticipating a $500 million reduction.
The system, which has about 412,000 students, stands to lose another $100 million if the state generates less revenue than projected.
"The enormous reduction to our state funding has left us with no other choice if we are to maintain quality and access to the CSU," said Chancellor Charles Reed.
About 50 students marched and chanted outside the board meeting, carrying signs that read "Fund instruction, not corruption" and "No cuts, no fees."
"We are vehemently disappointed in what has happened today," said Gregory Washington, president of the California State Student Association. "The sad truth is that California isn't prioritizing its higher education."
Cal Poly Pomona student Pati Guerra, 21, said she's tired of seeing CSU trustees deal with the budget crunch by pushing tuition higher and higher.
She said one of her younger brothers had to drop out of school because of the increases, and another brother is looking into studying out-of-state.
"They keep on taxing the students," Guerra said. "The CSU claims to be an affordable, accessible and a quality education. But that's no longer the case."
Shortly after the tuition vote, the board approved a controversial $400,000 compensation package, including $50,000 from the campus foundation, for Elliot Hirshman, the new president of San Diego State University. That's about $100,000 more than his predecessor Stephen Weber.
In a letter to the board chairman Tuesday, Gov. Jerry Brown criticized the move, saying, "I fear your approach to compensation is setting a pattern for public service that we cannot afford."
CSU officials defended Hirshman's salary, saying the university needs to provide competitive compensation to recruit and retain top administrators.
Carter acknowledged the governor's concerns and said the board would create a task force to review CSU's policies on selecting and paying administrators.
"This whole thing has been an insult," said Grace Castaneda, a 19-year-old student at California State University, Northridge, who has taken out $10,000 in loans to help pay for her education. "If they cared, they wouldn't have salaries of $400,000."
The University of California's Board of Regents is scheduled to vote Thursday on raising tuition by 9.6 percent above the previously approved 8 percent increase for the coming academic year.
If approved, annual tuition for in-state undergraduates would increase $1,068 to $12,192, which doesn't include room, board or campus fees. One third of the new fee revenue will be used for financial aid
UC officials say the additional tuition hike is needed to offset the 10-campus system's loss of $650 million in state funding.
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