Canan Tasci, Staff Writer
Posted: 08/04/2012 01:07:07 PM PDT

It may be a new school year, but not much has changed for the California State University system and its students.

Once again the lack of state funding is causing a budget deficit in the CSU system’s 2012-13 academic year, this time of about $510 million, and students are again facing tuition increases. Last fall, full-time undergraduate tuition was $5,472 per year. Students this year will be paying $5,970.

Things could get worse.

If voters don’t approve Gov. Jerry Brown’s November tax-hike initiative – Proposition 30 – the CSU system has prepared its 2012-13 budget to include $250 million in midyear cuts.

But if voters do approve the initiative the system and its students will get to rest easy – at least for now.

The fall tuition hike was one of the ways the CSU system has prepared for the possibility that the governor’s initiative doesn’t pass.

In the state budget the governor signed in June, the Legislature offered to restore $125 million to the CSU’s general fund if the system did not increase tuition for the 2012-13 school year. However, the funding would come in the 2013-14 school year.

“But the challenge for us is, is that we’ve already done that increase. Back in November, the trustees made a proactive decision to increase tuition and with that increase campuses began budgeting for that revenue, which is $132 million,” said Mike Uhlenkamp, CSU spokesman.

CSU was then faced with a choice: Keep the planned tuition hike and the additional $132 million it would pump into the 2012-13 school year budget, and forgo the $125 million offered next year; or give back this year’s tuition increase to students to get the additional $125 million next year.

“Students will still pay that $5,970 but we could be issuing a refund of $498 depending on the tax increase,” Uhlenkamp said.

“If we decide to refund the tuition increase, which will most likely be the case, we won’t know that until September and won’t know the results (of the election) until November.”

CSU board of trustees will meet in September to discuss the tuition issue and how they are going to manage the trigger cuts if the ballot measure doesn’t pass.

Locally, Cal Poly Pomona has lost about $54.8 million in state funding and that loss will increase by nearly $10 million if the trigger cuts take effect, said Tim Lynch, university spokesman.

He said Cal Poly has been conservative in its spending practices, which has helped the campus avoid catastrophic impacts to personnel and programs.

Administrators have not filled more than 170 positions when they became vacant. They restricted travel and deferred $150 million of maintenance on equipment and facilities.

In addition, faculty have not had a compensation increase in four years, and staff and administration have not had one in five years.

Cal State San Bernardino officials are a little more optimistic.

At this point, the university is not adding or scaling back for fall 2012, as compared to last year, CSUSB spokesman Sid Robinson said.

“Our enrollment could be even slightly more from last year, but it is still too early to know that. We have to see how registration goes over the next two months,” he said.

“Everything is really contingent on what happens with the governor’s tax proposition. If it is voted in then we’ll continue with business as usual, but if not there will be significant differences.”

While that is the economic climate for incoming freshman, Lynch said, there is a little hope.

Cal Poly is working on several fronts to ensure, despite major economic challenges, that students receive a robust education and graduate in a reasonable amount of time, Lynch said.

One of those efforts is the Graduation Initiative – a CSU-led effort – which among other things is assessing ways to:

To read entire story, click here.