Let's start by calling "student success fees" what they really are — thinly disguised tuition increases charged to students for basic educational services. These fees, which are being levied at many
But fees are supposed to be for services not directly tied to education. Those might include, for instance, parking, recreation or medical care. In the case of the so-called success fee, the extra cash is supposed to pay for more course offerings and the counseling needed to graduate, both of which sound like academic basics.
It's an end-run around both the flat-tuition agreement and the Cal State board of trustees, which sets tuition levels. The fees require only the approval of Cal State Chancellor Timothy White — who should reject the new ones and roll back the existing ones. They set a terrible precedent. If a college can call it an "extra" to provide an instructor with a classroom, where does it stop?
The Cal State campuses deserve our sympathy. They're trying to continue their mission even though funding, while improving, is nowhere near what it used to be. According to the California Budget Project, even with the added funding for Cal State and UC in the preliminary 2014-15 budget, the state's contribution would be close to 25% less than they received before the recession, when adjusted for inflation.