Budget cuts force Cal State system to freeze enrollment in 2013

by Jessica Pineda 778 views0

A statue at the California State University, Northridge campus

In response to the scarcity of funding for the public educational system, California State University officials announced that a freeze in enrollment will be implemented on a majority of the system’s 23 campuses in the spring semester of 2013. If a tax proposal on the ballot this November fails to gather voters’ favor, the Cal State system will be forced to wait-list all prospective students the following fall semester.

In order to compromise with $750 million of budget cuts in the 2011-2012 fiscal year, the Cal State system intends to diminish its student population by 3%.

“We need to keep some balance between the number of students we’re enrolling and serving and the resources we have. If we let everyone in who is eligible, the quality of services that students get and the quality of programs for everyone plunges,” said Robert Turnage, the Cal State assistant vice chancellor for budget, in an interview with the Los Angeles Times.

Additionally, to ensure fair access to the limited amount of courses, a strict 15-17 unit enrollment ceiling will be established.

Another increase in tuition prices was proposed as an alternative to the enrollment plan, but recent tuition hikes have already provoked passionate protest by students and brought the university system under a great amount of scrutiny and criticism.

Only eight campuses—Los Angeles, Fullerton, Channel Islands, San Francisco, East Bay, San Bernardino, Chico, and Sonoma—will remain open for limited enrollment, only granting admission to several hundred students transferring from community colleges who have earned the SB 1440 associate degree—a small fraction of the nearly 16,000 transfer students the system usually admits.

Governor Jerry Brown is proposing a tax increase this November in order to avoid trigger funding cuts that could worsen the blow on public universities, which are already gasping for funds. The failure of this proposition will force the university to turn down or waitlist the approximately 90,000 new students it enrolls each fall semester, adding further pressure on voters to approve this measure. The Cal State system forebodes that, should the measure fail, it may lose $200 million in additional funding.

The coercion of the Cal State system into making this drastic decision will affect not only students currently attending community colleges, but current high school students looking forward to attending a Cal States, as well. Students turned away by the enrollment freeze are expected to flock to the already overcrowded community colleges, resort to more expensive private colleges, and attend school out-of-state. The competition for class enrollment will be even fiercer in community colleges, and students may have to wait even longer to transfer. Whether the California Community Colleges could weather the intensity of such a storm remains to be seen.

Demand for the SB 1440 associate degree, also known as the Associate in Arts for Transfer (AA-T) and Associate in Science for Transfer (AS-T), is foreseen to skyrocket in the coming years. The California Community Colleges and CSU systems are collaborating in order to launch a website to provide students, high schools, and parents about this desired degree, which will be named DegreeWithAGuarantee.com.

Contrastingly, the University of California system does not intend on changing its admissions patterns for 2013.

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