Campus, CSU, News

Trustee Maggie White talks with students in tuition forum

Following the recent plans to increase student tuition, Dale Lendrum of Associated Students Inc. and Maggie White from the California State University Board of Trustees held an open forum for students to voice their opinions.

Fees are predicted to increase after announcements made by the CSU Board of Trustees propose to increase tuition for undergraduate and graduate students.

Students may have to pay an additional $270 a year for undergraduates, $312 a year for credentialed students and another $438 a year for graduate students

“How many of you have an extra $270 on you a year?” Lendrum asked students.

While students did not openly reply, it was clear that they did not approve of this initiative. Looks of agitation were visible in the faces of students who later said that they are already working multiple jobs to continue their education at Cal State Long Beach.

White announced that the tuition increase will be voted on in March at the CSU Chancellor’s office in downtown Long Beach.

Tuition for students enrolled in the CSU has continued to rise in the years following the 2008 recession. Tuition is now 280 percent higher than what it was almost 10 years ago, according to a timeline on tuition increases on the CSU Support Budget page.

Budget proposals are made by the CSU every year to be sent to the state legislature for approval, but due to cutbacks in state funding, the CSU is calling upon students to pay more out of pocket for their education.

Increases in tuition are needed to maintain campus infrastructure and to compensate for the large amount of staff and faculty working on CSU campuses, said White.

“What we really need is $2.4 billion,” White said, “But we’re doing a heck of a lot more with a heck of a lot less.”

Over the last 20 years, White stated that the CSU has had to hold off on building repairs in campuses across the state due to lacks in funding  – and now, the cost to make repairs has risen to  $2.4 billion. The CSU is asking Governor Jerry Brown for $10 million to make repairs of the highest priority on campuses.

Costs to pay staff and faculty reach a collective total $195 million per year. The CSU expects to sufficiently pay professors, staff and anyone working on campuses a livable salary in one of the most expensive states to live in, said White.   

The overall cost just to maintain infrastructure and faculty compensation climbs to a total of $346 million per year and the amount that Gov. Jerry Brown gives through the state budget reaches to only half of the needed amount: $157.2 million.

That $157.2 million is nowhere close to fully paying the costs of maintaining campuses in the CSU, said White. The provided funding is only enough to cover the the most basic necessities to operate a college campus. The remaining costs are left for the students as they pay tuition each semester.

“We as students have been bearing the burden [for the last ten years] of the budget on our backs,” Lendrum said.State-funding for schools in the CSU has declined, according to White. But demands in specialized careers like nursing, teaching and law enforcement have increased which led White to question the funding priorities of the state and where state revenue is being invested.

“I understand being fiscally conservative, but what I don’t understand is not investing in the future. Because nothing has a return on investment more than education,” White said.

California’s Proposition 98 provides schools K-12 and community colleges with funding of up to 30 percent of the state’s revenue at any time. White believes that schools in the CSU should be included in this funding as well to support students who are working toward those careers that the state is in need of.

Voters are currently unable to decide what the state should invest in at the moment, but there are alternatives, according to White. White and Lendrum both encouraged students – not just those who pay their own tuition – to contact members in the CSU, the California State Student Association and their representatives in the state legislature to make their voices heard and reject the tuition increase from going into effect.

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