A much-anticipated tuition hike was revisited by the California State University Board of Trustees during its Tuesday meeting.
The $288 increase would mark the second consecutive hike for students in the CSU system, which has received backlash from students and faculty members, along with the group Students for Quality Education, at this past meeting.
Amidst discussions and deliberations was the intermittent interruption of chants from students and faculty members in the crowd, one of which Chancellor Timothy White directly addressed as they interrupted part of his speech.
“Chancellor White, do what’s right,” the protesters chanted.
Although White attempted to finish his sentence through the chanting, he briefly gave up.
“Hey, that’s what I’m trying to do,” White replied. “That’s what I’m working on.”
During the public comments section of the meeting, members of the California Faculty Association and Students for Quality Education asked the trustees to reconsider the tuition increase. However, White said he believes the future of the state is more important than giving support to current students.
“This board has a responsibility beyond our current students,” White said. “We have a moral imperative and fiduciary imperative to take actions today to allow California to prosper and future students to come in.”
According to Elizabeth Chapin, chairwoman for the board, the trustees originally requested $263 million in state funding for the 2018-19 school year. However, only $92.1 million was allocated, leaving a $171 million gap.
In response to this, the Sustainable Financial Model for the California State University Task Force suggested the hike to alleviate the deficit.
The main goal of the task force, created by White in October 2014, is to consider the changes in state funding and the large influx of new students on campus and to construct a new financial plan that will sustain the system for the future, according to the Committee on Finance’s agenda.
The task force came up with 21 recommendations on short-term and long-term expense reductions and long-term revenue generation. Of the recommendations, 15 have already been implemented in the budgeting, two are in the process of being added and four are still being considered by the board.
One of the most important areas of funding for the board is the Graduation Initiative 2025, which is a follow-up to a successful program launched in 2009, to accelerate graduation rates.
Last year’s funding for the program saw $88 million in new investments, $75 million of which came from the previous tuition increase.
During the presentation of the program given by Executive Vice Chancellor for Academic and Student Affairs Loren Blanchard, the chanting started up once again.
“No hikes, no fees, education should be free,” one group chanted. “The longer we pay, the longer we stay. They say cutbacks, we say fight back.”
Now, a tuition hike is the most likely path the board will take to properly fund this program.
Looking to the future, the board has come up with both short and long-term plans to help alleviate sparse funding.
Some of the short-term options for the 2018-2019 academic year include partnering with the state to provide additional recurring support and an increase in tuition to cover a portion of the gap, while some of its long-term plans include expanding public/private partnerships and looking for philanthropic donations for state schools.
Expenditure options were also discussed by the board and the short-term ones were acknowledged as not helping “advance student success” by Ryan Storm, assistant vice chancellor for budget.
Some of these short-term plans include delaying hiring new faculty and support staff, as well as decreasing investment in the Graduation Initiative program, while some long-term options include adjustments in retirement programs and reducing enrollment.
Despite these discussions from the board, a decision will not be made on what path to take for another two months.