Tuition trouble: The fight over CSU tuition increases

FRESNO, California

That means seniors at Fresno State are facing their fifth tuition increase since they started school. And a lot of them are not taking it sitting down.

Protesters greeted administrators meeting in Long Beach Monday afternoon. They're expecting the trustees' finance committee to rubber stamp tuition increases.

"Do not balance the budget on the backs of students, please," pleaded one student protester.

CSU has raised tuition four times since 2007 to make up for falling funding from Sacramento.

At Fresno State, the protests are a little quieter, but students say the increases are delaying the beginning of the rest of their lives.

"I've actually had to prolong my graduation," said graduate student Hector Cerda. "I've had to work more and try to find a way to pay for the rising cost."

Cerda is gathering signatures on a petition to stop the tuition hike. But administrators say their hands are tied.

They held off on an increase this fall, hoping for more money from the state, but they didn't get enough.

Fresno State's president, Dr. John Welty is in Long Beach for the discussion. While he sympathizes with students, he says the schools need the extra money just to restore classes and services eliminated last year.

"These increases are necessary in order to serve the number of students who want to come," said Welty.

Under the plan, tuition would go up $105 for the spring semester. By next school year, students would be paying an extra $654 per year.

Administrators say Cal-State universities are still a bargain compared to state universities across the country.

For instance, Rutgers in New Jersey costs more than $12,000 per year. The University of Nevada at Reno costs more than $5,500. But full-time Fresno State undergrads will pay less than $5,000 this year, even after the increase.

Trustees vote on the tuition hikes Wednesday. Even if they approve next year's increase, it could still be reversed if the system gets more money from Sacramento.

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