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California State University students will see a 6% annual tuition increase starting fall 2024.
The system’s board of trustees voted 15-5 for the five-year tuition rate hike Wednesday despite vocal opposition from students, faculty and staff during more than 2 1/2 hours of public comment. The rate increase will affect the system’s 460,000 undergraduate and graduate students. The board also agreed to sunset the increase after five years and be reevaluated for the 2029-30 academic year.
The vote means that the first annual increase would be $342 to $6,084 for full-time undergraduate students in 2024. Full-time graduate students will see tuition increase by $432 to $7,608.
CSU outlined its need for the new revenue from the tuition hike. CSU is facing a $1.5 billion deficit. The increase will generate $148 million in new, ongoing revenue in its first year and about $840 million over the five years.
“This is really a difficult decision for all of us,” trustee Leslie Gilbert-Lurie said. “I reluctantly support raising tuition because, for the moment, I don’t feel we have found an alternative path, and I think part of the reason that we heard the anger and the anxiety from the public is that it is shocking that we have created a culture where people don’t expect tuition to be raised.”
Cal State tuition has only been raised once in the past 12 years, according to the chancellor’s office.
“Somewhere along the way, we gave people the impression that this system is magically going to create money to sustain itself, and what we see instead, as I have toured campuses, is shocking disrepair of buildings and salaries we can’t pay,” Gilbert-Lurie said.
The CSU is facing demands to improve its Title IX policies and close equity gaps in student academics and graduation rates. It also has about $30 billion in capital maintenance and construction needs, enrollment challenges and demands to improve employee compensation and wages, trustee Jack McGrory said. “We start with a $1.5 billion dollar structural deficit that accumulated over the years because we didn’t take tough actions along the way,” he said.
The board also approved a new tuition policy that requires that any future tuition hike be assessed 18 months before it goes into effect and increases institutional financial aid by at least a third of any expected additional revenue received from tuition increases or enrollment growth. The trustees will also review the tuition policy every five years because rate increases will not be longer than five years.
“The system is facing revenue shortfalls,” interim Chancellor Jolene Koester said. “We have also proposed a salary step structure for our staff, and the bottom line is that the total new proposed financial commitments that have been offered to our faculty and staff for the current year, 2023-24, far exceeds the entire amount of new funding available to the CSU in the 2023-24 state budget.”
Koester said the university presidents must make “extremely difficult, extremely painful decisions regarding how they’re going to reallocate their already limited financial resources” to meet those compensation obligations.
Student-trustee Diana Aguilar-Cruz offered trustees an alternative solution to shorten the tuition rate hike from five years to three or four, but the other trustees rejected that idea.
“This will benefit students in the long term and in the years to come,” she said. “But right now, it will harm our students.”
With students applying to CSU campuses for admission starting Oct. 1, Steve Relyea, the system’s chief financial officer, said the trustees could not delay voting on a tuition rate increase.