Officials from the California State University system announced Friday that a tuition increase would not go into effect for the 2018-19 school year.
Since November, the CSU Board of Trustees have been discussing a potential tuition hike to compensate for systemwide financial shortfalls from the state budget. Representatives attribute the state’s healthy economy as a primary reason to keep tuition as it stands.
“In light of California’s strong economy, California’s students and their families should not be saddled with additional financial burden to attain public higher education,” said CSU Chancellor Timothy P. White in a press release. “We will continue to make the case to lawmakers, who represent all Californians, that an educated citizenry should be at the top of the state’s highest priorities.”
Jocelyn Espitia, a junior computer science major, said she was initially worried about the potential increase.
“I think that’s great [that there won’t be an increase],” Espitia said. “Having that extra burden, even if it’s just $200, it really adds up.”
Douglas Domingo-Foraste, Long Beach chapter president of the California Faculty Association, sympathized with students facing financial hardships.
“You can’t do well in school if you can’t afford the gas to get here or the books to study,” Domingo-Foraste said in an emailed statement.
The Cal State system receives funding from two resources: tuition revenue and the state legislature. In January, California Governor Jerry Brown proposed allocating $92.1 million toward the CSUs. Last November, Cal State representatives estimated $263 million to fulfill universities’ needs across the 23 campuses, but Brown’s proposed allocation falls $171 million short of that request.
The university system’s total operating budget is around $6 billion, but the systemwide changes require more funding for resources, which include adding more online courses and professors and graduating more students through the Graduation Initiative 2025.
Mike Uhlenkamp, Cal State interim senior director of public affairs, said the state’s fiscal status looks strong, and hopes that could sway state representatives to put more funding into the CSU system.
“If we look at the economic situation in the state of California, the revenue appears to be higher than what was originally projected,” Uhlenkamp said. “If that’s the case, then we are going to go to our lawmakers and advocate to them the importance of CSU in the future to see if they can find the funding to fully fund the budget request.”
According to Uhlenkamp, Cal State representatives will continue lobbying the state legislature to secure more funding for the university system.
Domingo-Foraste said preventing the increase is a good first step, but there’s still work to do.
“I’m very happy there will not be a tuition increase,” Domingo-Foraste said. “It’s embedded in the CSU mission and the American ideal of public education for everyone. Free public education is the cornerstone of democracy and that’s why some people oppose it.”
According to Domingo-Foraste, CFA will continue its lobbying efforts by meeting with state legislators and arguing for more funding until the state budget is finalized in June. He said he hopes that Brown’s “May Revise” to the budget on May 15 will result in more money for the CSU system.
“But we can’t count on him,” Domingo-Foraste said. “So our immediate next step is to lay our case for greater funding for the CSU before the legislature. Afterwards, we will also continue to talk to the leadership of the Assembly and the Senate and to the Governor about your needs and ours.”
Since there will be no added revenue from a tuition increase, Cal State Long Beach has already started preparing for a budget shortfall. As Brown’s allocation stands, the university expects to have an $11 million budget deficit.
To compensate for the lack of funding, campus President Jane Close Conoley has proposed delaying renovation projects, increasing availability of more online classes and implementing a chill of new tenure-track hires of departments with less impacted campus departments.