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Cal State Trustees consider systemwide tuition increase plan

The trustees say increasing fees will let the 23 Cal State University campuses provide more resources for students, but some students say increasing tuition will limit opportunities.
Posted: 5:43 PM, Jul 17, 2023
Updated: 2023-07-18 02:09:53-04
California State University Bakersfield (CSUB), Bakersfield, August 23, 2021

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KERO) — The California State University Board of Trustees has proposed a multi-year tuition increase for students across the CSU System, including Cal State Bakersfield. Students may pay 6 percent more in tuition fees. The trustees say the increase will go towards providing students with additional resources, tuition stability, and additional financial aid options.

However, some students, including fifth-year Chicano and Latino Studies student at CSU Los Angeles Anabell Rangel, say they're not happy with the proposed changes.

"I found out earlier this month and I was just kind of bamboozled, and I feel like most students feel bamboozled because it is the summer and so our attention isn't all focused on school," said Rangel. "It's mostly focused on just enjoying the summer."

Rangel organized with Students for Quality Education to protest the proposed increase on July 11, saying students already experience stress trying to pay their tuition.

"We need to keep those opportunities open for future incoming students to be able to access higher education. It shouldn't be exclusive because essentially this is a form of marginalization of who can afford and who cannot afford higher education," said Rangel.

Kendall Chamberlin, who was a student at CSUB and now works in the university's Student and Financial Services Department, agrees with Rangel. She says currently, students already struggle to pay tuition, and she suspects a 6 percent increase would create more challenges both financially and academically for students as they take on multiple jobs to pay for their classes.

"Now you're trying to also focus on your job, which is taking a lot of your time. You're not getting paid enough, so you're not able to completely pay off your courses," said Chamberlin. "There's definitely added stress where you're not able to completely pay attention to your education and focus."

Chamberlin adds that the increase could add a financial burden, especially for nontraditional students who already have a full plate.

"I know a lot of students, they have kids. They have a lot of different responsibilities. It's not just 17, 18, 19-year-olds that attend college anymore. It's 26, 28-year-olds, grad students," said Chamberlin. "I'm getting calls from collections because they're not able to pay their finances."

Chad Morris, the director of Financial Aid and Scholarships at CSUB, says about 60 percent of the university's student population falls into the low-income category, and he says while the tuition increase could cause anxiety for students, it could also offer more financial aid opportunities for lower-income students through the State University Grant, the CalGrant program, and the Middle-Class Scholarship program.

"Those are all really designed for lower-income students, so all those really should go up commensurately if fees went up," said Morris.

With the increase, undergraduate students taking more than 6.1 units will see tuition increase from more than $5,000 in the 2023-24 academic year to more than $7,000 in the 2028-29 academic year.

For graduate students taking more than 6.1 units, tuition will increase from more than $7,000 in the 2023-24 year to more than $9,500 in 2028-29.

Graduate students in the business professional program, as well as nonresident students, will also see additional fees.

Cal State Bakersfield Public Relations Executive Jennifer Self says the CSU has had a decades-long commitment to keep tuition rates as low as possible. In fact, this would be only the second increase in the past 11 years. The annual tuition rate for an undergraduate student has only increased by $270 since the 2011-12 academic year. Self adds that if the CSU had opted not to change tuition rates, it could result in fewer course sections and support services, lower average unit loads, and a longer timeline to graduation, all of which cost students additional time and money.

Self goes on to state that individual campuses do not make the decisions about university tuition. The CSU Board of Trustees makes all the final decisions systemwide. Students may submit concerns to the trustees via their page on the CSU System website.

Following the tuition protest, Rangel says students, faculty, and staff must come together to create an affordable future for incoming students.

"There's hope that they took into consideration how we feel and what we want for the future incoming students at the CSU," said Rangel.

The CSU Board of Trustees will vote on the multi-year tuition increase proposal in September and determine then if they will move forward with the plan.


According to the National Center for Education Statistics, average college tuition and fees in the U.S. were higher between 2020 and 2021 than they were ten years prior.

At public 4-year institutions, the average tuition and fees were $94,000 in 2020-21, which is about 10 percent higher than they were in 2010-11.

Over the same 10 years, the average cost at private, nonprofit 4-year institutions jumped by 19 percent to amount to over $37,000 in 2020-11.