Protests start anew as Cal State tuition vote looms today

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LONG BEACH >> Protesters renewed their rallies in opposition this morning as Cal State University trustees were expected to take up a $270 tuition increase later today in Long Beach.

The CSU trustees’ finance committee was scheduled to begin its meeting at 8 a.m. today at the CSU Office of the Chancellor, 401 Golden Shore.

If the committee votes in favor of the tuition increase, the full Board of Trustees would be required to cast a vote later today.

Trustees’ recent discussions of tuition increases have provoked previous student protests here and around the state and activist group Students for a Quality Education has announced they will again show up to rally in opposition to the prospect of having to pay more for their degrees.

Among the dozens of protestors who greeted CSU officials early this morning with chanting, banners and the beating of makeshift drums, Cal State Long Beach student Courtney Yamagiwa said there’s some optimism a proposed tuition rate is not a done deal.

“It’s definitely not a done deal,” she said on the basis of student meetings with trustees, who she said have not been committed to the tuition hike at the time of prior conversations.

CSU officials are proposing to increase tuition by $270 for resident undergraduates. Although university leaders have said some 60 percent of students won’t actually have to pay that because of financial aid, Yamagiwa said that’s unacceptable for the 40 percent of students burdened by tuition, campus fees and textbooks.


CSU tuition levels have not increased since the 2011-12 school year. If CSU trustees approve an increase, the tuition increase would go into effect for the fall 2017 term.

CSU trustees have previously discussed the tuition issue during their November and January meetings. In November, trustees talked about the prospect of raising tuition in the context of their $5.8 billion support budget request to Gov. Jerry Brown.

CSU leaders’ funding request included $139 million for previously-negotiated pay increases, another $55 million for anticipated new compensation costs and $75 million for the system’s new effort to accelerate four-year graduation rates.

A complete grant of trustees’ funding request would negate any prospect of hiking tuition this year, but the Brown administration and Legislature have only been able to do that once over the course of the past four years, according to CSU.

And it’s not likely that Sacramento will be able to give the CSU everything it wants this year. The governor published the first version of his budget proposal in January, and although the CSU would get a $157 million funding boost under that plan, it still leaves the university system nearly $168 million short of what its leaders say they need to do everything they want to do during the next school year.



Increasing tuition wouldn’t completely fill that shortfall. After taking into account the CSU’s need to pay out more in financial aid to eligible students, official estimates project $77.5 million in additional revenue if trustees go ahead with a tuition hike.

The proposal:

• California resident undergraduate students’ tuition would increase by $270 to $5,742.

• Tuition for resident students in credential programs, such as future teachers, would increase by $312 to $6,660.

• Resident graduate students’ tuition would increase by $438 to $7,176.

Even if trustees vote for higher tuition, many undergraduate students would not have to pony up additional cash to stay in school. Assistant Vice Chancellor Ryan Storm said during January’s trustees meeting that aid programs would prevent students with family incomes of $70,000 or less from having to pay for the tuition increase.

The CSU had a total enrollment of nearly 479,000 students at the opening of Fall 2016 term. Aid programs help more than 60 percent of CSU students from having to pay for tuition, so roughly 255,000 undergrads would not bear new financial burdens if trustees approve the tuition hike, according to a staff report.

The University of California’s Board of Regents has already approved a tuition increase. Assemblywoman Sharon Quirk-Silva, D-Buena Park, has introduced a bill that would prohibit the CSU and California Community Colleges from hiking tuition and enrollment fees until after the 2019-20 school year. The bill has been referred to the Assembly Higher Education committee.

Quirk-Silva is also supporting a new proposal by Assembly Democrats to create a new state scholarship program supporters say would help California students pay for living expenses, as well as tuition bills. Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon, D-Paramount, is also pushing for that proposal.

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