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State Budget Woes Lead to Proposed CSU and UC Tuition Fee Hikes, Student Protests

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UCLA's campus. Photo by _Gene_ via Flickr

UCLA's campus. Photo by _Gene_via Flickr
Cal State University (CSU) students are preparing to protest as a vote this week to set next year's academic budget for the CSU system could result in an increase in tuition and enrollment fees. The Daily Sundial reports that faced with a difficult budget year and without a clear idea of what possible legislature help could look like for the CSU system, a proposed 5 percent increase is expected for spring 2011 and a 10 percent increase could go into effect for the 2011-2012 school year.

How will this affect student finances? The 5 percent CSU increase will add $105 to tuition costs and the 10 percent increase will add $444 in costs for the year. Budget meetings that begin today and are expected to run through Wednesday will be peacefully protested by chapters from Student Quality Education (SQE) to build awareness that fee hikes will place additional burden on a student body that is already on very tight budgets.

The UC system is experiencing a similar budget crunch and CBS Los Angeles reports that UC schools may see an 8 percent increase to help the system close a $1 billion shortfall. If approved, tuition would increase by $822. UC President Mark Yudof is also hoping to sweeten the financial aid program by setting aside one third of the new fee increases for student aid so families earning less than $80,000 would not have to pay tuition. This move has frustrated many UC students who don't feel they should have to pay for other families' financial aid packages. The UC Board of Regents is set to vote on the increases next week.

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As we reported during budget planning season last year, both California systems have a history of facing difficult budget years and given California's current budget woes, it's not a surprise that both systems are looking to increase fees in an attempt to fill gaping holes in university budgets. Is it an unwelcome development for students and their families as they struggle to find a way to pay for ever-increasing tuition at what used to be two "affordable" in-state school systems? You bet.