Why students are protesting tuition hikes at CSU
California State University has abandoned its plans to raise tuition next year.
Chancellor Timothy White announced Friday that the CSU Board of Trustees will no longer consider a proposal to hike student fees by 4 percent in the 2018-19 academic year, which was set for a vote next month. The 23-campus system will instead focus on lobbying the state for more funding.
Given its multibillion-dollar budget surplus, White said in an interview, California "should use the public's money to invest in its future."
"It's unfair and inappropriate to ask our students and their families to pay more," he said.
CSU is seeking a $263 million funding increase from the state, nearly three times what Gov. Jerry Brown offered in his January budget proposal. The university said it needs the money to add courses, hire more faculty and expand academic support services as part of an ongoing initiative to improve graduation rates, as well as to cover employee raises and upgrade buildings.
But Brown has made clear that he is not interested in boosting funding for CSU or the University of California, which is also weighing a possible tuition hike, beyond the $92 million he proposed in January. At his budget press conference, he said the universities would simply have to lower their cost structures and "live within their means."
"You're getting 3 percent more and that's it," Brown said. "They're not going to get any more. They've got to manage. I think they need a little more scrutiny over how they’re spending things."
The Legislature has been more sympathetic to CSU's requests, particularly because the system now has to turn away about 30,000 qualified students each year for lack of space. Senate President Pro Tem Toni Atkins and Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon both said in statements that they were pleased with the decision not to raise tuition and were committed to increasing state higher education funding.
That does not mean there will be a deal with Brown, however. White acknowledged the risk of calling off the fee hike without a funding guarantee.
"I'm a perennial optimist," he said.
He challenged Brown and lawmakers to take leadership on closing a projected labor shortage in California of more than a million college graduates over the next decade, especially as rising rents and other high living costs have made it harder than ever for students to stay in school.