Earlier this week, California State University (CSU) decided on a two-step fee increase. By the end of this week, the UC Board of Regents will make its own decision regarding tuition hikes. But California schools are not alone.
College Board reports that the average costs of attending a public, four-year university in the United States has increased over the last several years. The average increase was 7.9 percent for in-state students and 6 percent for out-of-state students, according to the report. The median published tuition increase was $490 for the 2010-11 school year.
In addition, 19 percent of full-time college students attend institutions that increased their prices by 12 percent or more. This is compared to an average increase of 4.5 percent at private four-year colleges. The median fee increase for private school students was $1,210.
For UC and CSU alike, fee increases are in response to decreased funding from the state. In the past, furloughs have been implemented at both institutions, but university representatives expressed worry that too many furloughs will lead to a decline in the quality of education offered.
“A major consideration in California right now is that fees are going up as state support goes down,” said Erik Fallis, CSU media relations representative, about the CSU fee increases.
“Furloughs allow for less access to classes and advising for students and if we cut down on maintenance costs, eventually the buildings start having problems.”
At UC Davis, the Academic Senate has worked with the administration to garner private donations and lobby the state legislature to allocate more funding to the university.
“Fee increases are not a permanent solution,” said Robert Powell, chair of the Academic Senate. “We look at every possible corner and try to figure out how we’re going to get the money we need.”
Fallis said that even with the fee increases, CSU and UC are still more affordable for residents than competing institutions. Approximately half of the undergraduates at CSU pay no tuition. CSU also has the largest number of students receiving Pell Grants, which in many cases covers all of their student fees.
“Affordability is something still very much achieved,” said Fallis. “Ideally, there would be no fee increase but one of the things CSU strives for is balance. After $625 million in cuts, fee increases are necessary to maintain education standards.”
Fallis said that CSU has only two main sources of revenue: state support and student fees. Occasionally they receive federal funding. Therefore, when state support drops, raising student fees is the only alternative.
“I think it’s unfortunate that we have to go here with raising fees,” Powell said. “Budget issues have been going on for 25 years. It seems like it’s happened quickly but it’s been coming over time. Combine that with the current economic issues and the situation is not good.”
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