Cal State Fullerton is proposing to increase campus-based fees by $181 a semester to pay for things like library improvements, athletics and more courses.
Some students are upset they're being asked to pick up the tab.
"This seriously affects how many students can even come here to begin with," said Rocio Prado, a graduate student at Cal State Fullerton.
Officials said the fee does not violate Gov. Jerry Brown's tuition freeze at Cal State and UC campuses because it's not system-wide.
"It does not apply if students at a given campus choose voluntarily to assess a higher fee on themselves," said H.D. Palmer, Deputy Director for External Affairs at the California Department of Finance.
The fee at Cal State Fullerton was first proposed in January following the approval of the campus's five-year strategic plan. Lea Jarnigan, associate vice president for student affairs, said the plan's new goals cost money the campus does not have.
"We've waited and waited and waited [to increase fees] because we felt affordability was critical," Jarnigan said. "When you get to a point where you realize that 51 percent of our students are taking a minimum of six years to graduate, you have to face the reality that we don't have some of the support services in place that students need."
The new fee is called the "student success initiative," and Fullerton isn't the only Cal State campus to consider it. Cal State Dominguez Hills and San Diego are also pursuing a "success" fee for the upcoming academic year. Sonoma State proposed a similar fee, but dropped it earlier this year.
A student fee advisory committee approved the fee Wednesday — but not at the full amount. CSUF's strategic planning steering committee, made up of administrators from various divisions, had originally proposed a fee of $240.50 per semester. The approved $181 a semester fee would be phased in over three years.
The fee would come on top of the $714 in campus fees Fullerton students already pay per semester and tuition and Cal State-wide fees that average $5,472 per semester.
Tuition at the CSUs has nearly doubled since 2007 due to years of budget cuts.
For the past two years, Gov. Jerry Brown has offered both the CSU and UC system budget increases as long as they maintain tuition at 2011-12 levels. His proposal gives $142.2 million a piece to the University of California and the California State University systems.
The recommended fee now goes to Cal State Fullerton President Mildred Garcia, who can choose to sign or veto the recommendation. The final approval and signature would come from Cal State Chancellor Timothy P. White.