Cal State University tuition won’t go up, but higher costs still hitting students

File: The California state capitol building in Sacramento.
File: The California state capitol building in Sacramento.
Lori Galarreta/KPCC

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On Friday California State University Chancellor Tim White said he’s shelving a plan to raise student tuition a second year in a row.

“In light of California’s strong economy, California’s students and their families should not be saddled with additional financial burden to attain public higher education,” White said in a written statement.

Cal State faculty said the decision was the result of an unusual partnership to oppose the tuition increase: faculty, students, and administrators locked arms earlier this month at a rally in Sacramento to deliver a strong message to legislators: increase university funding.

“I really will give most of the credit to this decision to our student activists who have really been at the forefront: they’ve been active, they’ve been visible,” said California Faculty Association President Jennifer Eagan.

Equally – if not more – important, in the decision to shelve the tuition increases is the expected increase in state revenues after this month’s tax returns are counted.

A tracking tool created by the state’s Legislative Analyst’s Office lets the public know whether tax collected is on track to match what public officials predicted.

We’ll find out next month if that leads to more funding for public universities. That’s when Governor Jerry Brown unveils the second draft of his proposed budget for next fiscal year.

The proposed increase would have raised yearly California resident tuition for undergraduates by $228 and by $900 for out of state students. Cal State had proposed raising tuition to make up for $171 million the university system said it needed for next academic year but that wasn't in the governor’s budget.

But Eagan said that even with the reprieve, finances remain a challenge for many college students. 

“Students are struggling… in terms of homeless and food insecurity,” Eagan said.

California State University is taking steps to get resources to students who are struggling the most.

A report released two months ago found that all 23 campuses in the university system have designated a point person to help students meet these needs, operate food pantries or food distribution programs, and help students apply for federal food assistance.

The report also found that some campuses, not all, provide short term emergency student housing and provide meals to students through meal sharing or a voucher program.