The recent passing of the state budget by the Governor and legislature signals a shift in public policy from a previous decade of CSU budget cuts and student fee increases. Below are some key victories:
Proposed Student Unit Caps Defeated
Earlier this year, Governor Jerry Brown released a proposal to charge college students “the full cost of instruction” if they exceeded a specified cap on the amount of course units that they could take. For CSU students who exceeded these unit caps, this would have resulted in having to pay $1,116 for every 3-unit semester class, or $744 for every 3-unit quarter class that they still needed to take.
After lobbying legislators throughout the state and gathering thousands of letters from CSU students stating their opposition to Governor Brown’s proposed unit caps, all of our hard work to stop the unit caps has paid off!
Governor Brown’s proposal to cap the amount of course units students can take before charging them out-of-state tuition rates was not included in his 2013-2014 State Budget May Revise, with the Governor’s budget revise stating:
“To improve student success, the Governor’s Budget proposed capping the number of units students can take while receiving a state General Fund subsidy at UC, CSU, and the community colleges. Given concerns that were raised, the Administration is withdrawing the proposal for this year and focusing on alternative incentives to increase cost‑effectiveness.” [emphasis added]
And with the passage of the state budget, we can now officially confirm that the unit caps proposal has been removed and defeated!
This is the second time such a proposal has been defeated since it had originally emerged in the fall of 2012 as a fee proposal by the CSU Board of Trustees. It is a testament to student power and our ability to collectively organize that we have continued to succeed in preventing the implementation of proposals that would unfairly punish students who are struggling to graduate. This victory also demonstrates the importance of involving students and faculty in identifying real solutions to graduating on time, rather than relying on proposals that seek to scapegoat and punish students who struggle to graduate under conditions created by state budget cuts. We’d like to thank all the students, faculty and state legislators that worked to prevent yet another barrier to graduation.
Renewed Commitment for CSU Funding, with No Tuition Increases
In addition to the victory against the unit caps, the state budget includes a $125 million in additional funding for both UC and CSU, with the Governor stating his commitment to increase funding for UC & CSU by an additional 5% in 2014/15 and an additional 4% for the next two subsequent years.
And as part of his commitment for additional funding to UC & CSU, Brown has requested that both the UC & CSU systems freeze tuition rates, with no planned fee increases for these upcoming years.
Passage of “Middle Class Scholarship” Legislation Creates 40% Tuition Rollback For Many CSU Students, Starting in 2014/15
We must commend State Assembly Speaker John Perez for his success in the recent passage of the “Middle Class Scholarship” bill included with the state budget. The Middle Class Scholarship will slash student fees for UC & CSU students by up to 40% for families making under $100,000 a year and 10% for families making under $150,000 a year. The funding needed to do this will come from the general fund revenue generated from Proposition 39, which was passed in last November’s election to close a corporate tax loophole that only benefited out-of-state corporations.
With CSU students currently paying $5,472 a year in student fees, this legislation will lower student fees to $3,283 for those with families making under $100,000. Financial aid from this legislation will go into effect starting in the 2014-2015 academic year.
The reinvesting in public higher education that we are starting to see is a direct result of years of student organizing and protests that have finally started to turn the tide in renewing the state’s commitment to funding public higher education. From years of mass demonstrations, walkouts and acts of civil disobedience, to the mobilization to pass legislation such as Proposition 30, students have been instrumental in making funding for public higher education a central issue for California.
We are starting to see the beginning of a commitment to reinvest in public higher education, but we must keep in mind that since 2002, CSU has experienced over $1 billion in budget cuts, as well as a 283% increase in student fees. In order to truly reclaim the People’s University, we must continue to organize to roll back tuition and ensure that the funding that CSU receives goes where it’s needed—into class instruction and student services. So let us celebrate our victories and continue to organize for more!