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Cal State approves 20 percent fee hike

July 21, 2009 8:47:23 AM PDT
Facing severe budget cuts, the California State University Board of Trustees has voted to raise student fees by 20 percent.The budget plan also calls for employee furloughs and enrollment cuts.

The CSU governing board approved the increase 17-1 Tuesday to help offset a $584 million budget deficit caused by an unprecedented cut in state funding to the 23-campus system, the nation's largest university.

Students say they are upset with the decision to raise tuition fees and cut classes, financial aid, and other services.

"Not only are we paying more for our schooling, we're going to get less quality," said Steve Dixon, CSU Student Association. "We'll have fewer teachers with PhD-quality. We'll have fewer class offerings. We'll have larger class sizes, fewer majors and minors. This is just a bad deal for everyone."

Students and faculty began protesting the idea of tuition hikes on Sunday.

Students say they can't afford the proposed tuition hike, but Cal State officials say they're in a financial meltdown because of the state budget and have little choice.

"When the state cuts a half a billion dollars from your budget, we really are faced with no good options," said CSU spokeswoman Claudia Keiths. "Our employees are going to be taking furloughs, we're going to be cutting enrollment, so we're looking at a plan of action in order to address this half a billion dollar budget cut."

However, students and faculty say they aren't buying it.

"It's a deeper structural problem than just Sacramento," said John Halcon, CSU faculty.

The 20 percent fee increase is on top of a 10 percent fee hike two months ago.

Tuition for full-time undergraduate students will increase from $3,300 to a little more than $4,800, with nonresident undergraduate fees jumping from about $10,000 to $11,000.

"For students now, in this economic crisis that we're in, we can't be paying an extra thousand dollars. Students are taking two jobs part-time and being full-time students," said student Patricia Guerra.

Some students say it is still better than attending a University of California school.

"Compared to that I think Cal State's pretty good, and all the professors and the new professors that I just met this year I think they're really good at teaching and what they do. So I think I'm satisfied for staying here right now," said Luna Kim, a Cal State Long Beach student.

Under the plan, nearly all of CSU's 47,000 employees would take furloughs two days a month and see a 10 percent pay cut. Student enrollment would also be reduced by nearly 10 percent over the next two years.

Eyewitness News reporters Lisa Hernandez and Sid Garcia contributed to this report.

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