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University News

Governor Proposes Student Fee Increase, University Studies Cost-Cutting Options


from Dateline (January 30, 2003)

On the heels of a 10 percent spring semester student fee increase, Gov. Gray Davis has proposed a 25 percent fee increase for the California State University’s 2003-04 academic year. The 23-campus system is facing $326 million in reductions for the upcoming fiscal year as the state wrestles with a multibillion-dollar deficit.

“We have known for several months that all Californians will feel the pain of this budget crisis, and the CSU is certainly feeling it now,” said CSU Chancellor Charles B. Reed. “But we know this: the education, research and service the CSU provides are indispensable to California’s future. We are as committed as ever to preserving access for students, maintaining the high quality of our programs, and protecting the outstanding faculty and staff who are the heart and soul of this institution.”

To ensure student access, the governor’s proposed budget includes funding to support a 5 percent enrollment growth throughout the system for the coming academic year. At Cal State Fullerton, growth is being targeted for the El Toro campus, which opened in August, and year-round operations.

The governor’s budget proposal anticipates that the CSU Board of Trustees will increase student fees for the 2003-04 academic year to compensate for $258.5 million in general fund reductions. If approved by the trustees, a 25 percent increase would boost the state university fee for full-time undergraduate students by $394 to $1,968 annually. The governor has proposed an accompanying increase in financial aid for eligible students.

At Cal State Fullerton, the proposed state university fee increase would bring the overall fee total to $2,419 annually for an undergraduate enrolled in more than six units of course work. That figure includes various campus fees, such as those for athletics, health services and the Associated Students.

“We remain committed to maintaining the quality of our academic offerings and the services we provide,” said President Milton A. Gordon. “All of us are reviewing what we must do in light of this difficult budget situation. We will economize where we can and always keep in mind our mission of educating students.”

For more than a year, the campus has been studying various cost-cutting options as the revenue picture dimmed state-wide, noted Judith Anderson, executive vice president. “Obviously, the departments, colleges and divisions are engaged in reviewing their budgets. At a university- wide level, the Academic Senate’s Planning, Resources and Budgeting Committee is reviewing campus plans and will be forwarding recommendations to the president. This is part of work performed each year by the PRBC.”

The PRBC consists of faculty members from all seven colleges, staff members, students, vice presidents and division heads.

The governor’s proposed state budget specified some cuts in the CSU’s current general fund budget of $2.6 billion.

The CSU also must absorb an additional $78.6 million in unfunded, mandatory cost increases, noted system officials. These added costs include employee salary increases of $32.8 million, of which nearly $30 million is for faculty members; higher health-care costs of $32.2 million; insurance premium increases, including worker’s compensation, of $7.2 million; and $6.3 million in costs to open new classrooms, laboratories and offices.

A bright spot in the proposed budget, according to Patrick Lenz, CSU assistant vice chancellor for budget development, is an increase of $105.8 million to support a 5 percent enrollment growth for the coming year, or roughly 20,000 additional students systemwide. The governor’s proposal also adds $45 million to partially cover the cost of 10,500 additional students in 2002-03, for which no funding previously had been provided.

In addition, the governor is calling for speeding up construction projects throughout the state, using bond funds approved by voters last year that will fund projects at all 23 CSU campuses, systemwide officials noted.

At Fullerton, this will enable the campus to provide fire and safety improvements, such as new fire hydrants and improved fire detection and alarm systems; upgrade the telecommunications infrastructure, including 40 additional Code Blue emergency telephones; and purchase equipment for the Physical Education addition.

Next in the 2003-04 budget process will be the release of an analysis by the Legislative Analyst’s Office followed by legislative budget hearings. In May, the governor is scheduled to submit a revised budget request based on the forecast of state revenues at that time.

Following completion of hearings, the state Legislature will forward a budget bill for the governor’s signature.

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