Cal State Fullerton ranks lowest in funding per student in the CSU system

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Graph depicting full time equivalent students enrollment at different CSU's
Full time equivalent student enrollment at different CSU's (Danielle Evangelista / Daily Titan)

Correction: This article was changed at 7:19 p.m  on Tuesday, Sept. 18 to correct a sentence which said Cal State Fullerton “has the most enrolled students of any CSU.” CSUF  has one of the highest enrollments in the CSU system but not the most. 

Cal State Fullerton receives the lowest funding per student in the CSU system and has one of the most enrolled students of any CSU, according to a 2018-19 general funds ranking from the CSUF Resource Planning and Budget. 

Concerns over CSUF’s state funding were addressed at Thursday’s Academic Senate meeting.

There is no question that we as a campus, we as a system, have been called upon or forced to do more with effectively less,” said Fram Virjee, CSUF interim president, at the senate meeting.

CSUF receives $7,024 per full-time equivalent student, a calculated enrollment average by the university which depicts a certain headcount value. The university currently has a total full-time equivalent student enrollment of 28,937 for the year of 2018-19, according to the same campus funding rate ranking statistics.

Table depicting full time equivalent student funding for different CSUs
(Danielle Evangelista / Daily Titan)

Irene Matz, a member of the senate who has served as associate and interim dean of the College of Communications at CSUF for eight years, said CSUF receives the least funding per full-time equivalent student because the sum of money allocated to each university depends on how they were classified in the past.

Campuses with slightly smaller full-time student enrollment rates and similar demographics receive “tens of millions of dollars more” than CSUF does, Virjee said.  If CSUF were to receive the same sum of funding per full-time equivalent student as Cal State Long Beach, the university would get $15 million dollars more each year, Virjee said.

“I believe this is the result of a formula that was created many years ago that I have no reason to believe they didn’t think was fair and equitable at the time, but it’s not now,” Virjee said.

The issue has been brought up at Academic Senate meetings to at least four previous presidents who promised to talk over the matter with the chancellor at the board of trustee meetings, Matz said.

She said CSUF presidents have to do more than just “revisit that conversation.”

“What we need is to be steadfast in getting us from that bottom position and putting us in a position that is more equitable for our population,” Matz said.

To get more money for our campus would mean taking the funds from other universities who have depended on this money for years, a task that is undesirable and difficult to do, Virjee said.

I don’t want to take the money away from other students at other schools; I just want our students to be fairly treated,” Virjee said.

He said his goal is to persuade the chancellor’s office to change the way the money is divided in order for CSUF to receive the money it should have access to.

Virjee said this will be an opportune time to ask for more money, being that this year’s budget is set and most other CSUs will not approach the chancellor’s office for funds. He also said that he plans on doing so this week.

Additional funding would mean keeping costs down for students as well as improving their resources on campus, Matz said. It would also mean more tenure-track professors, who are “committed full time to the university” and experts in their field. For students, tenure-track professors means students are receiving a “quality education,” Matz said.

Matz said more funding would also affect student tuition.

“If you go back 10 to 15 years, the amount of money for tuition was much lower than it is now. We have to raise tuition because of need. If we have more money coming from the budget for the Cal State system, that would not hinder the tuition for the students,” Matz said.

For tuition to actually decrease for students, the university would need significantly more funding from the state, which is an unlikely scenario, Virjee said.

“We take the money that the state gives us. We take the money that students pay,” Virjee said. “We put it all together and then we educate as many students as we can with that money.”

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