10:23 PM PDT on Monday, July 11, 2011

The Press-Enterprise

Fees for full-time students at state universities in California have risen steadily in recent years and are nearly double what they were five years ago.

Perhaps lawmakers figure students are used to it by now.

With the new state budget calling for $650 million in cuts from both the California State University and University of California systems, and a possible additional $100 million sliced from each budget if state revenue targets aren’t hit, administrators are once again looking at bumping up tuition.

UC officials, who already approved an 8 percent increase at a meeting earlier this year, will consider an additional 9.6 percent increase at its regents meeting that begins today. California State University officials also meet today. They will consider an additional 12 percent increase on top of a 10 percent rise in tuition already approved for the fall term.

“They’re not making wise choices,” said Caroline Gikuru, 25, of Alameda . Gikuru is a recent graduate of UC Riverside. “It forces people not to get an education. It’s not affordable for a lot of people.”

In her own case, Gikuru said she cut her studies short, abandoning a minor course of study to more quickly earn her bachelor’s degree in political science so she could save money. She said the increase in fees in the state system would force her to consider going elsewhere for graduate school.

“It does affect where I will choose to apply,” she said.

Some students said they had already been affected by budget cuts in not being able to enroll in classes required for their majors.

UCR math major Lizzete Rodriguez, 19, of Riverside, said she was taking summer-school courses because she had been unable to get into classes she needed during the regular school year. She expects she will be doing the same thing next summer.

“Next quarter,” Rodriguez said, “I won’t be able to get the classes I want.”

At Cal State San Bernardino, Aaron Jimenez, 21, of Fontana, is majoring in accounting. He is president of the campus’ Associated Students Inc. Jimenez said increased tuition is forcing some students out of school.

“There are a lot of students who have already taken a year off because they can’t afford it,” Jimenez said.

His own budget is such, he said, that he has taken to parking across the street from the campus rather than pay a $20 per quarter increase in parking fees.

“I don’t know how I’m going to deal with a 22 percent increase,” he said, referring to the combined impact of the already approved increase and the additional one being considered today. “I will struggle a little more than I have. I get financial aid so it does help me out. I’m more concerned about students who don’t get as much as I do.”

Jimenez and other student organizers met last weekend to plan a strategy for protesting the hikes at today’s meeting of Cal State officials.

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