California State University (CSU) officials are examining the possibility of cutting enrollment by 10,000 students, beginning with the upcoming 2011-2012 academic year.
At the CSU Board of Trustee’s meeting on March 22, a looming $500 million cut to CSU prompted discussion of reducing the number of students at all 23 schools starting in fall. This cut could reach $1 billion if Gov. Jerry Brown’s tax extensions don’t make the ballot for June’s special election.
The enrollment reduction will limit access to the largest system of higher education in the country, serving 412,000 students annually.
“A cut of $1 billion in state support would have devastating effects on the CSU,” said CSU Chancellor Charles B. Reed, in a press release. “A reduction of that level would force us to reexamine potentially drastic measures, including much larger cuts to enrollment and increased tuition fees, among other strategies.”
The cost savings from this approximately 2.4 percent enrollment cut will amount to $60 million of the $550 million shortfall that CSU will face, according to the press release. The extra $50 million comes from mandatory expenditures, such as employee health premiums.
The enrollment cuts will vary by campus, but will have a major effect on campuses that are considered impacted, such as Cal Poly and San Diego State, said Erik Fallis, CSU media relations specialist.
Impaction, which means that there are more qualified applicants than space available, can be at the program level or at the campus level.
The worst-case scenario for CSU is if the $1 billion cut becomes a reality, Fallis said.
In this case, the California Legislative Analyst’s Office recommends an enrollment cut of 20,000, in addition to another tuition increase and slashing of faculty and staff compensation.
“The state is not funding education as in the Master Plan,” Fallis said. “In the end, it’s going to hurt the state of California because CSU is a path to an educated workforce.”
Sacramento State is one of the schools that is currently impacted at the campus level, said Ed Mills, associate vice president for Student Affairs, Enrollment and Student Services, in an e-mail interview. As a result, supplemental admissions criteria may have to be implemented, such as higher GPA requirements for applicants from outside a six-county local admissions area.
Nonetheless, Sacramento State will honor their offers for students accepted in the fall, Mills said. Acceptance will likely be affected for spring semester applicants.
Mills said that despite the fact that CSU has a reputation for serving a large body of students, he is more concerned with the reduction of graduates rather than any diminishing status of the university system.
“As a system, we graduate the largest number of students with new bachelor degrees in the state,” said Mills. “As a state, we need more educated [citizens] to fill our future job needs and help ensure a stronger future for our state. Reducing enrollment in education at any level will be problematic for California in the future.”
A $1 billion cut would see CSU’s state support fall below what it was in 1996-1997. Fallis said that while CSU doesn’t look to push for the tax extensions, Chancellor Reed’s stance on them is pretty clear.
“[Reed] doesn’t support the additional cut,” Fallis said. “Our role isn’t to advocate for revenue sources but to show the consequences of not providing adequate funding. We are showing the need for revenues.”
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