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CSU trustees approve 10% hike in student fees

California State University trustees Wednesday approved a 10% increase in undergraduate and graduate student fees for the coming school year, with one board member saying it was the only way to absorb deep funding cuts without turning away thousands of students and eliminating teaching posts.

“Until California changes its priorities . . . we only have bad choices,” Board of Trustees Chairman Jeffrey Bleich said before the 17-2 vote.

The hike of $306 a year for undergraduates will boost Cal State’s average annual basic fees to $3,354, beginning in the fall. For students pursuing their teaching credential, the increase means an additional $354 a year, and for other graduate students, an extra $378.

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With room, board, books and additional fees imposed by each institution, the total cost of attendance for an undergraduate living on campus will now range from $16,752 a year at Cal State Bakersfield to $22,158 at San Francisco State, according to CSU estimates.

It was the sixth basic fee increase in seven years for the 23-campus university system, which educates 450,000 students a year. University leaders said the higher fees will offset state cuts in the system’s $2.6-billion budget, including $96 million in 2008-09 and an additional $57 million for 2009-10.

University officials said Cal State fees remain below those of similar institutions in other states, although critics said the comparisons discount California’s high cost of living.

Voting against the fee increase were Lt. Gov. John Garamendi and student trustee Curtis Grima, who attends Cal State Sacramento. Garamendi asked the board to reject the hike and instead to support AB 656, a proposed oil and natural gas severance tax whose revenues would go to the state’s higher education systems.

“The Legislature and the governor are pushing off on the board a tax increase on students and student families,” Garamendi said, calling the fee boost “a foolish and stupid tax.” His motion died for lack of a second.

Chancellor Charles B. Reed warned of possible further cuts to Cal State’s budget after Tuesday’s special election, which includes education funding measures that are widely expected to fail.

“I’ve been in government service for 45 years . . . and I have never seen anything like this,” Reed said. “It is nothing short of an economic meltdown. I don’t anticipate things getting better for 18 months or up to 24 months.”

Bowing to the inevitable, only a handful of students showed up at the meeting in Long Beach to protest the expected decision. But the speakers made up in passion what they lacked in numbers.

“I do not receive adequate financial aid to live on campus due to the fact that all the members of my household are working . . . to pay the rent,” Cal State Northridge student Daniel Santana told the board. “I work two jobs and take the bus three hours each way from South-Central Los Angeles just to get to school.”

“You’ve heard Cal State students walk in here year after year with heartfelt stories,” said Dominguez Hills senior Kayla Mason. Breaking into tears, she continued, “Yet nothing changes.” The trustees’ action followed a vote last week by University of California regents to raise undergraduate student fees for the fall by 9.3%.

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gale.holland@latimes.com

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BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX

Costs to rise

Full-time undergraduates at Cal State campuses will pay more next year. Here’s a look at the estimated cost for the 2009-10 school year for a student living on campus, including local fees, books, room and board and other expenses.

Bakersfield ...$16,752

Channel Islands... $20,689

Chico...$19,488

Dominguez Hills... $18,995

East Bay... $20,289

Fresno... $17,773

Fullerton... $20,352

Humboldt... $18,748

Long Beach ...$19,380

Los Angeles ...$18,785

Maritime Academy ...$19,622

Monterey Bay... $18,050

Northridge ...$20,777

Pomona ...$17,236

Sacramento ...$20,762

San Bernardino... $18,870

San Diego... $21,330

San Francisco... $22,158

San Jose... $20,665

San Luis Obispo... $20,577

San Marcos... $19,699

Sonoma ...$20,878

Stanislaus... $17,766

Source: California State University


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