California State University

By Carla Rivera
November 25, 2014

The University of California’s decision to raise tuition generated much controversy.

But the California State system could consider what by some measures is an even more radical plan as it struggles with budget constraints and increasing demand from freshmen and community college transfers. Rather than increasing tuition, Cal State has reduced enrollment targets for this fall. And trustees recently discussed the dark scenario of having to stop accepting freshmen.

Those ideas are designed in part to send Sacramento a loud message that the CSU system needs more funding from state government. But they have added a level of uncertainty and fear for some students seeking to attend the nation’s largest four-year college system.

The application period for Cal State’s 23 campuses opened in October and the system faces the prospect of turning away thousands of eligible students because state funding is not keeping pace with enrollment needs.

Gov. Jerry Brown’s multiyear funding plan calls for an additional $119.5 million each for the Cal State and University of California systems in 2015-16. But that amount is $97.1 million short of what Cal State officials say they need from the state to expand programs and enrollment.

Cal State’s budget request includes $103.2 million to enroll an additional 12,000 students. Brown’s plan, by contrast, would allow an additional 3,500 students.

The UC regents last week approved tuition increases of as much as 5% every year for five years, saying that the extra funding is necessary to pay rising employee salaries and pensions, hire more faculty and increase the number of California undergraduates by 5,000. Tuition increases could be eliminated or reduced depending on state funding.

State Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins (D-San Diego), who along with Brown and other top state officials opposed UC’s move, said she would work hard to boost state funding for UC.

Brown has said he would provide the UC and Cal State systems 4% increases this year and next in exchange for flat tuition. The governor also has called on the UC system to accept more transfer students from two-year colleges and to increase online offerings.

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