California Forum

Raising tuition on CSU students not justified

Jennifer Eagan
Jennifer Eagan

As educators, we faculty strive to impart knowledge and truth. We teach, mentor and dedicate ourselves to helping students and ensuring their academic success. And when we notice something that is incorrect, we get out our red pens and offer constructive criticism.

A recent Bee editorial, “UC and CSU tuition increases make sense” (Jan. 13), echoed UC President Janet Napolitano’s excuses to raise tuition. Red pen time.

Not only did the editorial fail to justify raising tuition in the California State University system, it failed to detail differences between the two systems in relation to state funding and students.

The CSU educates some 478,638 students on its 23 campuses. That’s over 208,000 more students than the UC. Yet if you break down state funding per student, the CSU receives nearly $5,000 less per student than the UC.

But those are just the facts. These are real students at stake, not numbers. They are our future leaders in California. It’s on them to keep our state going into the 21st century. Why are we choosing to fail them this way?

On Thursday, the California Faculty Association released a report about the state’s continued disinvestment in the CSU and its impact on our increasingly diverse student body. The main finding is stark: As the CSU system has become darker, funding has become lighter.

Our students, who are increasingly students of color, low income and first-generation college students, are being supported less now than 30 years ago.

Most of them are stretched to the limit. For years, the cost of attending the CSU has been going up, despite a “tuition freeze,” under the guise of “student success fees.”

While the editorial suggests that the state could use “its financial clout to help lower interest rates on student loans,” that’s a bankrupt approach. Aid by way of grants is laudable. Aid by way of loans is laughable.

Unlike The Bee editorial board, from our perspective, it’s hard to stomach the thought of driving up costs for our students and driving them further into debt. That’s not a good deal for anyone.

Jennifer Eagan is a professor of philosophy and public affairs & administration at CSU East Bay. She is currently president of the California Faculty Association. She can be reached at jeagan@calfac.org.

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