Cal State trustees expected to discuss budget priorities, student enrollment

California State University trustees on Tuesday will discuss how to spend $3.4 billion in taxpayer funds earmarked for the system — more than what Gov. Jerry Brown initially proposed but still not enough to reverse a controversial tuition increase and tackle certain priorities such as building upgrades and maintenance needs.

The state’s 2017-18 budget gave Cal State an additional $177.2 million in recurring annual funds. That’s a $20-million increase from earlier proposals, and officials have been directed to put the boost toward increasing enrollment by about 3,000 students across the 23-campus system.

Cal State, the nation’s largest public university system, is dependent on state general funds for about half its operating costs. Tuition and fees cover the rest.

“The increase in funding is a further step in the right direction and will result in additional students accessing and graduating from the CSU,” said Chancellor Timothy P. White — who along with students and faculty had lobbied lawmakers for months. “We are grateful that the budget demonstrates continued support from the governor and legislature for public higher education.”

Brown also approved a one-time, $20-million expenditure for efforts to increase graduation rates, as well as to address student hunger and fund equal employment opportunity programs.

The extra state funding and tuition increase revenue amounts to about three-quarters of the additional money trustees had estimated was necessary to meet their budget needs.

Trustees on Tuesday also will hear an update on the effort to double Cal State’s four-year graduation rate, from about 20% to 40%, by 2025. They will discuss how to use the additional funding to, for example, hire more faculty, add classes in high-demand courses and provide extra tutoring and support for students.

Administrators also are expected to announce a new director of student wellness and basic needs initiatives — efforts that student leaders have said are important to helping their peers reach graduation.

Also on the agenda are several policy directives that came out of Brown’s budget, which addresses hot-button issues such as remedial classes and increasing enrollment demand.

Last year, 30,000 qualified applicants had to be turned away because their desired Cal State campus was at capacity. By May of next year, university officials must develop a policy to redirect a rejected application to less-crowded campuses if the student meets the system-wide qualifications. Officials also have to approve a policy that requires Cal State schools to give local students priority admission for impacted programs — undergraduate majors and programs that receive far more applications from qualified students than what faculty, staff and campus resources are able to accommodate. At Cal State L.A., for example, impacted programs include biology, criminal justice, psychology and social work.

The trustees are scheduled to meet Tuesday and Wednesday in Long Beach, and the meetings are open to the public. A live stream of the open sessions can also be viewed here.

rosanna.xia@latimes.com

Follow @RosannaXia for more education news

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