CSU Board to vote on proposed 6% annual tuition hikes Wednesday

Students across the 23 campuses of the California State University system will likely face annual tuition increases beginning in the fall 2024 semester, pending approval from the Board of Trustees, which is scheduled to vote on Wednesday, Sept. 13.

The proposed tuition increases, which include a 6% annual increase in the cost of education over the next five years, were approved by the board’s Committee on Finance in July, despite concerns from students and faculty alike that the additional costs would limit access to what has historically been the state’s most affordable higher education system.

Tuition increases, however, are necessary, according to CSU officials, to cover $1.5 billion in unfunded operational costs in the system’s budget.

A CSU workgroup report released in May revealed that the CSU only has enough money to cover about 85% of the actual costs of education, institutional and academic support, and student services for its more than 460,000 students across all 23 campuses.

The CSU budget is primarily supported by two sources: the state budget of California and tuition revenues. According to the May report, neither of these have kept up with the ever-increasing costs of running the nation’s largest state university system. The state funds approximately 60% of the CSU’s operating budget, with the remaining 40% coming from tuition revenue.

And, while California Gov. Gavin Newsom has agreed to a funding compact with the CSU that will provide a 5% annual boost to its annual budget — amounting to a $227.3 million increase for this fiscal year — officials say it isn’t nearly enough to bridge the funding gap, especially given the state’s resources are dependent on a variety of external factors.

State funding for the CSU’s operating budget, for example, has declined from approximately 90% in the 1980s to approximately 60% today. With stagnant tuition rates, officials previously stated that the CSU is simply running out of money to provide services at the expected level.

The most recent tuition increase was 5%, or $270 per semester, in the 2011-12 academic year.

The new tuition increases, which are 6% per year through the 2028-29 academic year, amount to about $342 more for undergraduate tuition, bringing the fall 2024 semester total to $6,084. This does not include the costs of housing, food, school supplies, and other necessities.

Full-time undergrads would be required to pay $7,682 for the academic year by the spring 2029 semester, while higher-level programs, such as a doctorate in public health, would cost around $25,000 per year.

The proposed five-year tuition increase is expected to generate $860 million in the first five years. If the proposal is approved, the board will be required to review and re-approve any additional increases after the first five years, and the CSU will be responsible for ensuring that the extra funding is used for its intended purposes.

According to the CSU, approximately $280 million in new anticipated revenue — or roughly one-third — would fund financial aid for students in greatest need.

The CSU stated in its report that the proposed tuition increases would not change the CSU’s position as one of the most affordable higher education systems in the country. It also stated that due to grants or fee waivers, approximately 60% of its student population would be unaffected by the change — a claim that students and faculty have questioned.

CSU students receive approximately $1 billion in federal Pell Grants each year.

The system’s student assistants, who are in the process of forming a labor union, have stated that if tuition increases, they will face a kind of double jeopardy.

“Student Assistants work because they require money to survive. “Their financial insecurity is now compounded by tuition increases,” San Francisco State University professor John Logan said in a news release issued on Friday, September 8.

Meanwhile, the remainder of the additional revenue generated by the tuition increase would be used to expand the work of the CSU’s Graduation Initiative 2025 — which aims to increase graduation rates for first-time and transfer students — as well as pay raises for the CSU workforce, academic facility and infrastructure upgrades, plans to increase enrollment, and other operational costs.

The board will vote on the proposal on Wednesday, September 13, at the CSU Chancellor’s Office, 401 Golden Shore in Long Beach. The meeting will begin at 8 a.m. and will be livestreamed.

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