Cal State mulls new student fees

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The California State University system is seeking to impose a series of new fees next fall designed to encourage students to graduate faster and free up thousands of more classroom seats.

The proposals were unveiled Thursday, only two days after the passage of Proposition 30, a tax measure that allowed the university to rescind a $249 per semester tuition increase that took effect in the fall. Voter approval of the tax measure means the university will avoid an additional $250-million mid-year funding cut.

Officials said the new fees are designed not primarily to generate revenue but to change student behaviors that have clogged the pathway to degrees and delayed new admissions, problems only made worse by recent budget cuts.

The proposed fees include:

  •  A per-unit supplement of $372 for so-called “super seniors” who have already accumulated 160 semester units. In 2014, the supplement would apply to students who have earned 150 semester units.
  •  A $91 per-unit fee for students who want to repeat a class. Officials estimate that each term, about 40,000 seats in classes are occupied by students who have already taken the course.
  • A $182 per-unit fee for any course load of 18 units or more, which is intended to discourage students from enrolling in a number of classes and then dropping some later.

Officials said the plan would allow about 18,000 additional students to be admitted.

“Campuses continue to receive many more applications from students than they can serve,” said Ephraim P. Smith, Cal State’s executive vice chancellor and chief academic officer. “We’re turning away 20,000 eligible students each year. The passage of Proposition 30 helps, but does not solve all of our financial problems. It is critical that we look for new ways to be efficient.”

The proposals will be considered by the Board of Trustees next week in Long Beach.

Many students argue that new fees will unfairly punish those who face many obstacles to graduation. The activist group, Students for Quality Education, is holding protest events at several campuses this week and plan to demonstrate at next week’s board meeting in Long Beach.

By Carla Rivera, Los Angeles Times


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