Students returned to SF State with a lot less money this Fall as another round of tuition and fee hikes take effect.
The sudden spike in costs over the last year – at a university system known for its affordability – was the most dramatic the CSU system has seen in two decades, and it has added financial woes to many students who already have full schedules.
“It’s effecting me rather profoundly. I’m having problems affording food,” said sophomore Katrina Kiapos, 19. “It’s pretty unjust actually. Education is supposed to be essential.”
California’s fiscal problems have repeatedly hit the higher education in the gut over the last year. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s original budget forced the CSU system to cope with almost $240 million in cuts.
In May, the CSU Board of Trustees approved increases of 14 percent for undergraduates, 25 percent for graduate students, and 20 percent for credential candidates.
Fulltime, non-resident students were the hardest hit. Their tuition rose nearly $2,000.
“That still makes us one of the cheapest deals in the country,” said CSU spokesperson Colleen Bentley-Adler. “To maintain quality, we have to increase student fees.”
An undergraduate taking at least 12 units for the Fall 2004 semester paid $338 more than last year, and fulltime graduate students’ fees went up $600 from Fall 2003.
CSU fees hadn’t changed this drastically since 1993 when pre dot-com California was slammed by recession. Undergraduate fees more than doubled from $531 to $1,070.
“The state budget was so bad that we were laying off thousands of faculty and staff,” said Bentley-Adler. “Traditionally, when the state coffers are low, raising fees is always an option on the table.”
Anastasia Blum works on campus to manage her way through graduate school.
“When you look around, it’s obvious the school needs more money,” said Blum, an English literature major. “Whether it comes from the students or the government is a tougher question.”
The state currently subsidizes about 78 percent of CSU costs, according to Bentley-Adler, and the Trustees are currently working on a long term fee policy which could prevent sudden price hikes.
“The walkout last semester was a good example of how we have the power to change,” said 18-year-old sophomore Taliya Cohen. “Change has always come from the people on the streets.”