Due to statewide budget cuts, CSU campuses in Fullerton, Dominguez Hills, Fresno, and Sand Diego, are considering adding what are known as “student success fees.” Offering the promise of more classes, and a higher graduation rate. It also promises an additional $200 to $500 per semester. Critics feel this is a masked attempt to aim more education costs towards students, without raising the cost of tuition.
Cal State University of Northridge student, Wesley Hernandez feels if it were not for financial aid, he would be unable to attend a four-year university. “I can’t imagine paying that much more per semester,” Hernandez said. “I know I speak for many when I say, ‘I’m thankful for financial aid.'”
CSUN’s situation isn’t as dire as most CSU campuses. They implemented what is known as a “quality fee” in May of 2008. The “quality fee” only costs around $120 per semester, and includes the maintaining of up-to-date technology, an increase in availability of student support services, and stabilization of funding for intercollegiate athletics. But like other CSUs, they too have dealt with setbacks because of the budget cuts, with their acceptance rate dropping from 60 percent to 46 percent.
“We don’t want to deny those students who are qualified,” said CSUN Media Relations department chair, Carmen Chandler said. “We don’t have the resources to fund every single program the way we used to, while keeping our acceptance rate at such a high percent. There’s not much we can do.”
It’s apparent that the CSU system is running out of options, and are in critical need of a solution to maintain classes, programs, and instructors, without a decrease in their rate of acceptance for incoming students. But what’s angering critics is the current proposal to solve the issue. Many have a difficult time accepting the idea that shifting more education costs towards students is the only resolution to the problem. If the proposal is passed, the question then will be, “Where is this money going?” and, “How much of a benefit will success fees have on current, and incoming students?”
Unlike UC and private school students, a larger portion of CSU students work full-time, because a smaller portion of them come from families that are able to fully support their education. Without financial aid, there aren’t many viable options to pay the cost of tuition, along with the added fees.
“Many of our students are first generation students,” said Chandler. “Therefore, many of them come from families that aren’t able to fully support their college education; forcing them to work full time. And that causes them to graduate in five and a half years instead of four.”
A recent report from the nonprofit California Budget Project found that tuition and fees have increased tremendously to 91 percent at Cal States, and 74 percent at UCs. The promise of these fees are both an increase in graduation rate, and more student readiness following graduation. But it could be argued that the increase in graduation rate may not be as valid, if there is a drastic decrease in incoming students.