Editorial: Rising ‘fees’ not part of original education plan

Published 2008-02-26T00:00:00Z”/>

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Student fees are at an all-time high and will continue to increase if nothing is done.

A student-led initiative is proposing to put a freeze on student fees for the next five years, and after that, fees will rise in accordance with inflation.

For more information, read Ellen Walrath’s story on A1.

It may come as a shock to many, but at one time California legislators thought it was important for higher education to be tuition-free.

Yes. Free.

The Master Plan for Higher Education in California drafted in 1960 advises “that state colleges and the University of California shall be tuition free to all residents of the state.”

It then highlights the distinction between tuition and fees.

Tuition is the “student charges for teaching expense.” Fees are “charges to students for services not directly related to instruction.”

These fees were $88 in 1960, about $600 when adjusted for inflation, according to the Consumer Price Index.

Today, each full-time student pays $2,772 in what the California State University system calls a “state university fee.”

Every other state would call it tuition.

Each Chico State student pays an additional $918 for programs including health services, athletic teams and Associated Students.

This fee is the intended non-instructionally related costs every student must pay, according to the master plan.

The $2,772 every full-time CSU student pays the system is tuition – regardless of what the CSU spin doctors and administrators want to call it.

While it’s commendable our “student fees” have stayed low compared to other states’ tuition, they have annually risen about 11 percent over the last six years.

This is a far cry from the affordable education the master plan sought to uphold.

Regardless of how, the CSU system needs change.

The master plan’s creators said the tradition of “nearly a century of tuition-free higher education is in the best interests of the state and should be continued.”

So, why have we gone in the opposite direction of an education system once revered throughout the world?

Limiting higher education goes against principal philosophies once held in this country.

President James L. Morrill of the University of Minnesota said in 1958 that no loans or private financing could “compensate for a betrayal of the ‘American Dream’ of equal opportunity to which our colleges … have been generously and far-sightedly committed.”

A five-year fee freeze may be seen as a hindrance to the state budget, but something needs to be done before it’s too late.

A price halt on the cost of college may mean some changes are needed, but it’s better than seeing students dropping out because they can’t afford college, or worse, not enrolling at all.

<strong>Editorial Board</strong>Ashley Gebb, managing editorOlga Munoz, news editorMike Murphy, opinion editorRyan Van Fleet, sports editorLeslie Williams, entertainment editorCari Radford, features editorDavid Flannery, photo editorGenny McLaren, chief copy editorChelsea Accursi, online editor