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Students and university face tuition increase and budget problems

Chico+State+students+protest+the+proposed+tuition+increase+in+front+of+Kendall+Hall+on+Feb.+1.+Photo+credit%3A+Carlos+Islas
Chico State students protest the proposed tuition increase in front of Kendall Hall on Feb. 1. Photo credit: Carlos Islas

Chico State students protest the proposed tuition increase in front of Kendall Hall on Feb. 1. Photo credit: Carlos Islas

Chico State students protest the proposed tuition increase in front of Kendall Hall on Feb. 1. Photo credit: Carlos Islas

Molly Sullivan

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Student wallets will be $270 lighter next year.

The CSU Board of Trustees voted to approve a 5 percent tuition increase for 23 campuses at its March 22 meeting in Long Beach, Calif.

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Despite opposition from CSU students, the Board of Trustees is considering the proposal because of a $167.7 million shortfall in the budget for 2017-2018.

The last time tuition was increased was in 2012 and the proposal included a freeze provision so tuition would remain stagnant for five years.

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This time, the proposal does not include a freeze provision. And, if passed, the tuition increase will only cover $77.5 million of the $167.7 million shortfall, which is less than half of the CSU’s budget request.

According to budget documents from the Office of the Chancellor, the revenue generated from the tuition increase will be used to fund “student success initiatives.” This means the funds will go toward faculty hiring, academic advising and providing more sections of high-demand courses, Public Affairs Manager for the Office of the Chancellor Elizabeth Chapin said.

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But the remaining gap in the budget means CSU campuses will have to cut back in other areas.

At Chico State, campus infrastructure will be put on the back burner if the State doesn’t fully fund the CSU’s budget request in June.

“The first cut is going to come from infrastructure and buildings,” Associated Students Director of University Affairs Tamara Fleet said. “So there’s many buildings across many campuses that really need attention. There are some buildings on some campuses that are really derelict and bad. On our campus, for instance we have the Physical Sciences building. So that’s the first cut.”

At the March 2 University Budget Committee meeting, Interim Vice President for Business and Finance Jim Hyatt said 39 campus facilities were evaluated and found to be in below average condition.

“It’s on our radar screen, it’s on the (CSU’s) radar screen, but it’s something the State is not willing to come up with recurring dollars for,” Hyatt said. “So it’s something to be very mindful of because if deferred maintenance isn’t addressed you’re going to have some pretty bad disasters. We raise that as an issue as we look at the future and we think about how we can fund that.”

Hyatt said there will be $290 million in facility renewal costs over the next 10 years, and the university does not currently have the funds to address those costs.

“The study said that as a campus if we invest $13 million annually, we would maintain this kind of below average condition,” University Budget Director Jeni Kitchell said.

There is a prioritized list of infrastructure projects on campus but Kitchell was unavailable to comment on which projects are on the top of the list.

“We’ve got elevator projects and other types of things, Kitchell said at the University Budget Committee meeting. “We prioritize the list as the funding is available, so we’re always trying to chip away at (the list) but we’re no where near these numbers.”

If Gov. Jerry Brown allocates more funding for the CSU in the May revise of his State budget, only then will students be refunded the tuition increase and the university will have a better sense of which projects it can afford to address.

Molly Sullivan can be reached at [email protected] or @SullivanMollyM on Twitter.

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Students and university face tuition increase and budget problems