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Goodbye to affordability

Updated: Dec 3, 2023

Cal State universities put budget woes on burdened students.

By Kenya Harris, Opinions Editor

The CSU’s approved tuition hike leaves students to pay down a $1.5 billion dollar debt over the next five years. This burden is too big to shoulder with current costs facing students and their families. Gas, groceries, rent, and other necessities all cost more today than ever. Now CSU tuition is set to increase 6 percent annually, for at least the next five years.

The first of these hikes begins in the fall 2024 semester, with tuition set at $6,084. There is a discrepancy between funds available and what it actually costs to run a campus, where they can afford to pay their staff fairly, and afford to give out financial aid. The increase will provide $280 million earmarked for financial aid. This price increase will generate $860 million and of that sum, salaries and executive budgets will only be 0.2 percent of the budget.

Around 40 percent of CSU students come from California community colleges, and a staggering 68 percent of students are facing some kind of insecurity of income, according to a 2023 study of community college students carried out by the Community College League of California. To think that $860 million will be coming out of students pockets; it is unreasonably high.

The biggest categories of insecurity are housing and food. Fifty-two percent of students facing food insecurity, and 69 percent facing housing insecurity, work 30 or more hours per week. Working or not, housing and food prices pose a conundrum for many students and these financial struggles do not stop simply because a student has moved on to a four year university. The length of the hikes is a proposed five years but they may go on longer. By 2029 the tuition alone will be $8,133 and who knows what the costs for transportation, food or rent will be by then.

The continuation of financial stress in a world where everything is only getting more expensive, will worsen the pressure many students are already under. The money for deficits cannot come from those already financially stretched. These students likely just don’t have that kind of money. The five years of undue burden on students will surely decrease the number of people finding the CSU system an affordable option.

The heart of the CSU system has always been a model of affordability and its relationship with the California community colleges. This tuition increase is a good way to ruin that relationship for good and push students further away from their goal of a university education.


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