The California State University Board of Trustees voted on Wednesday to approve their proposed 6% tuition increase over the next five years.
The increase will raise tuition 6% per year starting in the 2024-25 school year for the next five years for all 23 CSU campuses. The program will sunset in 2029. Tuition has only increased 5% in the last 12 years, in 2017.
The final vote was 15 yes, five no and zero abstentions in favor of the increases. The vote was lopsided in favor of the tuition increases, with notable no votes including Gov. Eleni Kounalakis and California State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond, along with student trustee Diana Aguilar-Cruz all voting no.
The increase is an attempt to close a $1.5 billion budget gap laid out in the report published by CSU back in May.
According to Executive Vice Chancellor & Chief Financial Officer for the CSU Steve Relyea, the increase will generate $148 million in new revenue in the first year and $840 million over a five-year span.
Relyea added that of the $148 million generated in the first year the CSU would increase financial aid by $49 million.
“If you look over the five years of the tuition plan, the proposal would generate $840 million of new revenue. This would increase financial aid by $280 million, which again is equivalent to 1/3 of the system wide tuition revenue generated from the rate increase just over the five years,” Ryan Storm, assistant vice chancellor, said.
Across all CSU campuses, 60% of students have their tuition fully covered by non-loan based financial aid such as university grants and federal Pell grants according to the CSU. 18% have their tuition partially covered by non-loan financial aid.
Relyea says students that fall under that 60% will not be affected by the tuition increase due to the increase in non-loan financial aid support and he hopes that the increase will help grow the number of students covered under non-loan financial aid.
“What we want to do is actually expand the availability of non loan aid. Those students who have the greatest need are not going to be affected by this tuition increase,” Relyea said.
CSULB ASI President Mitali Jain expressed her concern at the trustee meeting on Tuesday for the 40% of students who are not covered under non-loan financial aid.
“I think the 40% are the ones that are going to be the most impacted. That includes international students and students who don’t receive any governmental aid. They are paying out of pocket and have to take jobs and it’s just a lot for those students,” Jain said.
Even with this increase, the gap in the CSU budget is still not completely closed.
According to the CSU there will still be a $322 million gap. This is taking into account the proposed 5% yearly general salary increase offered to some collectively bargained faculty and staff.
The vote was not without its share of debate among the trustees with members speaking both for and against the increase.
“We’re proud of our affordability and our accessibility so this is a difficult day. We’ve only had one tuition increase in twelve years, that’s not a business model that’s going to work long term,” Jack McGrory, board of trustee member, said.
McGrory also addressed the notion that the CSU can use reserves to cover the gap in the budget.
“We heard a lot yesterday ‘just dip into the reserves and take some money.’ When you really come down to it we have $766 million in reserves. That’s the rainy day reserve that the system is operating under. With everything we have on the table with the unions, almost half that reserve will be eaten up over the next three years,” McGrory said.
Lt. Gov. Kounalakis continued to voice her opposition to the increase during her address to the trustees. She was advocated for a delay in the vote to have time to gather more information about the full effects of the increase and to also let the new chancellor take office.
“We wait until the newly appointed chancellor of the CSU system can get here and truly do her job, which is to understand what the largest decision that the CSU has taken in 10 years will do to the system as a whole,” Kounalakis said.
Trustee Aguilar-Cruz also offered an amendment to the policy changing the time frame from five years to four years but it was defeated by a vote of eight yes to 12 no.
Students for Quality Education attended the meeting and expressed their disappointment with the outcome.
“It’s just depressing. We’re disappointed in CSU and the Board of Trustees,” Luis Ortiz, a third year communications major at Cal State Long Beach, said. “They haven’t managed financially the CSU correctly, they haven’t shown an effort to get funding and they show up to these meetings and they’re OK with how the system is.”
Tuition will now be set to go up from its current $3,330 to $3,528 for students taking six units or less. The full chart of increases can be found on the CSU website.