Cal State University students can expect to pay the same amount in tuition for the upcoming 2021-22 academic year.
“I restate because it bears repeating, that we will not raise tuition for academic year 2021-2022,” said new CSU Chancellor Joseph Castro at the system’s bimonthly board of trustees meeting.
The declaration was prefaced with words of gratitude as Castro thanked California Gov. Gavin Newsom for including a 3% increase in funding towards the system in his January budget proposal, amounting to about $145 million. One of the conditions included in the allocation was to keep residential tuition and fees flat for 2021-22.
In addition to the millions of dollars in funding, the CSU is also set to receive almost $1 billion in emergency aid from the most recent federal relief package.
Many people were unsatisfied with the announcement, even commenting on the system’s Instagram post. Some called on the CSU to lower tuition in response to the pandemic, others urged the system to use its $1.5 billion in reserves to save those on the verge of being furloughed or laid off.
Similar to the criticisms received on social media, students and employees voiced their frustrations with the university during public comments.
One commenter, an incoming student at Fresno State, said that they heard of a possible tuition raise in the case that the state budget would further cut the CSU system and called upon the board to stop giving the administration pay raises.
“Consider cutting your executive paycheck instead of perpetrating hardships on students and workers,” the attendee said. “We keep the CSU running, not the trustees or the senior managers, many of whom are receiving pay raises even as the CSU talks of increasing tuition and has laid off its lower-paid staff.”
Last September, the board approved that Castro would receive annual compensation of $625,000. Despite the board’s insistence that it was the same amount that the previous Chancellor Timothy White had received, according to EdSource, it was reported that his salary was $477,771 a year.
Around the same time, the 23 campuses experienced a wave of layoffs. Out of 55,000, 303 CSU employees had received notices, 99 were from management positions.
“We will do what we can, as much as we can to avoid additional layoffs of permanent CSU staff or faculty due to a lack of state funds,” Castro said. “If our assumptions for state and federal support hold, I will not support a systemwide furlough program.”
On the topic of finances, Trustee Jack McGory said another way the system could generate revenue was from raising out-of-state tuition. He said that it would be “fiscal insanity” if campuses with a great demand for non-residents did not raise their fees.
“We are in-effect subsidizing public education for out-of-state students and at the same time paying the highest taxes in the west,” McGory said. “I don’t feel any obligation to out-of-state residents in terms of charging a market rate tuition fee structure, it’s just fundamental, you wouldn’t run a business like this. This business would fail automatically.”
Trustee Douglas Faigin, agreed with McGory’s sentiments. He said that if raised out-of-state tuition caused a lesser influx of those students then it could possibly make way for more Californians to enter the system.
Despite the trustees' confidence in this idea, Ryan Storm, assistant vice chancellor, quickly dismantled the concept and said that because the state pays for the education of many Californians, out-of-state students are paying for their spot, essentially garnering the campus money.
“If non-residents were to disappear, that does not necessarily mean that we can admit, educate another 20,000 plus additional California residents for the amount of resources we have,” Storm said.
As tuition appears to be stable for now, campus-based fees can be changed despite the universities within the system being online. According to the fee policy, campus presidents are given the responsibility to increase or abolish those payments.
Mandatory campus fees have been increasing at a significant rate, sometimes by hundreds of dollars, according to Cal Matters.
Trustee Romey Sabalius questioned the approval process for the mandatory fees and said that such matters should be brought before the board. He added that while his peers disagreed with his statements before, calling it micromanaging due to how many charges there were across the 23 campuses, it would not be any different from when the board reviews hundreds of other academic programs.
“Why should we not do something like that for consequential decisions that affect the cost of education?” Sabalius said.
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