Sep 2013 08

SQE’s Disorientation Guide on the CSU system for the 2013/14 academic year now available!

To read it on your computer, download it here: CSU Disorientation Guide – Read

To print out a copy, use this version: CSU Disorientation Guide – Print. Pages are meant to be printed double sided, and then folded in half and stapled down the middle.

Jun 2013 28

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.

In Closing

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!

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Mar 2013 14

For students in the California Public University, graduating on time can be tough. Tuition hikes, added fees, and a lack of available classes create roadblocks to attaining the education we need (and pay for). In fact, only 16% of CSU students graduate in 4 years.

And why is that percentage so low? In a survey of over 2,800 students, we found that 50% delayed because they can’t get the classes they need.

So it would follow that a solution to increasing graduation rates would be to provide more classes. However Governor Jerry Brown’s new budget proposal is taking a much more drastic approach.

According to the proposal, Jerry Brown is seeking to make students graduate in 5 years by charging students “the full cost of tuition” if they exceed certain unit caps. And what exactly does “the full cost of tuition” mean? Essentially that California residents will be charged at the same rate as an out of state student once they exceed these unit caps.

In Fall of 2013, students will be capped at 180 semester or 270 quarter units. In Fall of 2015, students will be capped at 150 semester or 225 quarter units, equal to about 5 years of education. Community College students will be equally effected, capped out at only 90 semester units.

How drastic is this difference? A student who took 24 units in a year would only pay about $5,472 in tuition. But an out of state student would pay $14,400, nearly 3 times the cost of in state tuition. 

What kind of students would be affected by this?

  • Students who, unable to get the classes they need, took others in order to stay enrolled, keep financial aid, campus housing etc.
  • Students who transferred in with too many units from the community college system
  • Students who’ve changed their major
  • Students who’ve double majored or minored
  • Students who took a major with high unit requirements (more than standard 120)
  • Students who’ve had to take several pre-requisite courses to take major courses

Considering how many students fit any number of the above situations, it’s clear that this proposal places unfair blame on us instead of addressing the root of the problem, that the system is set up in a way that keeps students from graduating on time.

The fact is students WANT to graduate. We DON’T want to rack up more debt. Instead of motivating us to graduate on time, this cap will only make it more difficult. Many students simply won’t be able to afford these increases and will be forced to instead drop out, a loss of investment for both students and the state as a whole.

Brown’s proposal places a cap on our education, it disinvests in students, and it creates incentives for students to drop out, rather than graduate. 

Join us in sharing why you are against the education cap by tweeting either how this would affect you or why you’re against the measure to #cappedout

Nov 2012 13

Today the CSU Board of Trustees made an unprecedented decision on a scheduled fee increase vote—they cancelled it. Around 8:00am today, Tuesday, November 13th, the CSU Board of Trustees released this statement:

“California State University Trustees have postponed reviewing a plan to improve access and reduce time to degree. The proposal to modify the current undergraduate fee structure was part of the agenda for today’s Board of Trustees meeting and will now be reviewed at a later date after Trustees gather additional information and input from stakeholders.”

The fees were promptly removed from both today’s and tomorrow’s agenda.

This is a huge victory for students. We were successful in convincing the Board of Trustees that the three proposed “punishment fees” they were considering were poorly thought out solutions to helping students graduate.

The results of our “Survey on CSU Students’ Obstacles to Graduation”, that was shared with both trustees and the media before the Trustees meeting, demonstrated not only that higher fees will not cause students to graduate faster, but that it would cause them to delay their graduation even more.  The survey also demonstrated the need for CSU itself to conduct its own research, and seek input from students, faculty & academic advisers to explore real solutions that would help, rather than punish students who are struggling to graduate.  SQE surveyed over 2,400 students—the Chancellor surveyed zero.

After several weeks of outreach to the Trustees, they have agreed to our request to postpone any further discussion or action on these “punishment fees”, in order to gather additional information from students on what will really help students overcome obstacles to graduation.

Today’s postponement is a victory for students who have been fighting against fee increases for years. This is the first time in a decade that CSU students have successfully stopped a fee increase vote from occurring, and it is thanks to the efforts of every student who signed our petition, filled out a survey, and spoke to the media about this issue, as well as the collective efforts of our student governments, the Student California Teachers Association, UAW Local 4123 (CSU grad students), the faculty Academic Senate, and the California Faculty Association who communicated their opposition to these fees.  The cancellation of this fee vote is a testament to students’ hard work, and student power has won the day.

There is always a possibility that the Trustees may reconsider these fees at a later date. We must be vigilant as time goes on, but for today, let us revel in our success and hope it continues for days to come.

As the stakeholders referred to in the Trustees press release, we expect the Board of Trustees to involve students statewide in the process of identifying proactive solutions to the real obstacles student face when struggling to graduate. We look forward to working with the Trustees and the newly appointed Chancellor Tim White in being proactive in developing policies that will help, rather than punish, struggling students.

-Students for Quality Education

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Nov 2012 12

We have surveyed almost 2,400 CSU students statewide, asking them directly for the reasons why they’re struggling to graduate. The Chancellor, by contrast, has surveyed zero students.

You can view the full document here or click on the thumbnail below:

Our findings clearly show that CSU students want to graduate. They don’t need higher tuition as an incentive to graduate; they just can’t get classes they need. Students say they will need more than four years to graduate because they can’t get classes and because of their personal economic situation, not because they are taking too many classes and prefer to stay in school longer.

70% of respondents have had to delay their planned graduation date and half of the students who took the survey said the delay is because they can’t get classes they need.

Chancellor Reed has is all it wrong: higher fees will not cause students to graduate faster. Almost two-thirds of respondents say the proposed fees would have caused them to delay their graduation even more.

The survey shows CSU students who take extra units do so in order to graduate on time and get courses the need — not to extend their time in college. This fee would discourage students who take heavier course loads in a session with the goal of graduating faster. The chancellor claims that these fees would provide “equitable and efficient paths to graduation” but this fee clearly does the opposite of that by limiting the paths available to students.

Respondents include students from all 23 campuses. Like the CSU student population as a whole, survey respondents are overwhelmingly working students, with 14% working full-time while attending college. Most already have student loans and about half depend on financial aid grants. Many are first-generation college students and more than a third have transferred to the CSU from another college or university.

Students aren’t gaming the system. Students are struggling to graduate. And we need to give them more help to graduate, not tear them down. Our demand is help, not punishment.