CSU OKs a what-if tuition hike

The California State University Board of Trustees on Wednesday approved a tuition increase for next year -- contingent upon voters rejecting a tax hike measure on the November ballot.

Students will get a reprieve, however, if voters approve the Gov. Jerry Brown-backed Proposition 30, which would raise billions of dollars in sales and income taxes and forestall deeper cuts to education.

The trustees, meeting in Long Beach, voted 11 to 3 to approve the plan, with faculty representative Bernadette Cheyne, student representative Jillian Ruddell and state Supt. of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson opposed. The board’s finance committee had approved the revenue-raising plan Tuesday.

Failure of Proposition 30 would trigger a $250-million funding cut to the 23-campus system. The 5% tuition hike -- equal to $150 per semester -- would raise about $58 million in 2012-13, officials said. Beginning in January, annual undergraduate tuition would rise to $6,270, not including school-based fees, books and other costs.


Trustees also approved a plan to increase per-unit costs for nonresident students by 7%, from $372 to $399, and to seek an increase in employee healthcare contributions. Cal State would need to renegotiate contracts for such a change.

Cheyne warned that increasing the share of costs could seriously harm some lower-paid employees, but she was unable to gather enough support to have the item postponed.

Trustee William Hauck called the measures “prudent actions in anticipation of Prop. 30.”

But a small group of student protesters disagreed, chanting “No Cuts, No Fees, Education Should be Free.”

Nicole Winborne was among several students who wore paper graduation caps, with red and white tassels outlining the spiraling tuition, which has increased for seven years in a row.

“I love Cal State, but hate the fact that these actions affect us so much, because fees are being raised so much,” said Winborne, 23, a sociology major at Cal State Dominguez Hills. “My brother is a senior in high school and starting college next year at San Diego State, and I’m concerned for him.”

If Proposition 30 passes, Cal State would roll back a 9% tuition hike that took effect this fall. The system would have to refund tuition checks, grant tuition credit, and recalculate financial aid packages for most students.

Earlier in the meeting, trustees voted to approve a new four-year contract with the California Faculty Assn., which represents 23,000 professors, lecturers, librarians, counselors and coaches. The contract, which provides no salary increases and largely preserves current benefits, was approved by the faculty union last month.