California State University–Fullerton in Fullerton, Calif., on March 8, 2023. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)
California State University (CSU) students will see their annual tuition rise by 6 percent per year for five years, beginning with the 2024-25 academic year.
The university system’s board of trustees voted 15-5 on Sept. 13 for the increase, which will end following the 2028-29 year, when it will be reevaluated by the board, according to university officials.
Full-time undergraduate students will pay an extra $342 for the first year—with the annual amount increasing to $6,084 from $5,742. For full-time graduate students, tuition for the 2024–25 school year will increase by $432, or to $7,608 from $7,176.
However, the increases won’t affect about 276,000 undergraduates who have their tuition fully covered by financial aid because of their family’s income.
The tuition increases are needed because the university system is facing a $1.5 billion budget deficit, university officials said during the meeting. The increases are estimated to generate $148 million in revenue for CSU for the first year and about $840 million over the entire five years.
The revenue will go to support existing programs and services, according to university officials, as well as for financial aid, staff pay, and facilities maintenance.
Trustee Leslie Gilbert-Lurie said during the meeting that the decision was difficult for trustees.
“I reluctantly support raising tuition because, for the moment, I don’t feel we have found an alternative path, and I think part of the reason that we heard the anger and the anxiety from the public is that it is shocking that we have created a culture where people don’t expect tuition to be raised,” she said.
CSU hadn’t previously raised tuition costs since 2011. Apart from state funding, tuition is the “only other significant source of revenue for the CSU operating fund,” according to university officials.
The system’s current funding model was “unsustainable,” according to Steve Relyea, the university system’s executive vice chancellor and chief financial officer.
“[The university system’s] struggle with financial sustainability and predictability under a state-funding-only model just doesn’t work,” he said at the meeting. “The revenue from the tuition proposal is essential for the [university system] to serve its students in the future.”
The tuition hikes were introduced in a July proposal
. In the proposal, officials said that the lack of tuition increases hindered the system from keeping up with rising costs.
The proposal noted that the annual tuition for an undergraduate student has increased only once—by 5 percent, or $270—since the 2011–12 school year, while inflation has increased by 39 percent during that same period.
“Tuition has been held flat for 10 of the last 11 years through 2022–23, which has helped maintain affordability for as many students as possible and kept the CSU as one of the most affordable institutions of higher education in the country,” the proposal stated. “However, the absence of a tuition increase has also prevented [the university system] from having sufficient resources to keep up with rising costs.”
CSU’s enrollment has fallen by more than 5.4 percent in the past five years—to 457,992 in the fall of 2022 from 484,297 in the fall of 2017, according to its website.
Officials said they would also use the revenue to attempt to address disparities in costs across the system’s 23 campuses.
For example, CSU–San Jose’s annual tuition and fees currently total $7,992, with campus housing and food costing about $18,568, while CSU–San Diego’s tuition and fees total $8,290, with about $21,630 for university housing and food.
While the base tuition is the same at all CSU campuses, mandatory campus fees vary widely from campus to campus, and there are also regional differences in housing prices, financial aid policies, and other fees that account for cost discrepancies.