Fresno State starts new semester

FRESNO, Calif.

Thousands of students returned to class at Fresno State to start the Spring semester -- adding to the foot and vehicle traffic in and around campus. "Holidays and the break is always nice but there's an energy about being at a college campus that you start to miss after a while so it's nice to see all the students coming back," said student body president, Selena Farnesi.

Hundreds of students had to wait in long lines at the student store to buy textbooks and other school supplies. And it wasn't any different across campus, where Areli Almaraz waited in line at the cashier's office for more than one hour to pay her Spring tuition. "It's hard because I accepted a loan and then I got a scholarship so it isn't enough to pay it. Now I need to pay out of pocket my tuition that I owe," said first-year student Areli Almaraz.

The increasing costs to higher education were on many students' minds, especially after last week's address by Fresno State President John Welty. Students at Fresno State are already facing a $498 tuition hike next fall and things could get worse if voters don't approve Gov. Jerry Brown's proposed tax initiative in November.

But the financial mess isn't hampering student enrollment as more than 20,000 students are estimated to be enrolled this semester. "Our enrollment is above what we expected it to be this time. In fact, we are a couple percent above our 100 percent target, which is the first time we have been that high at the beginning of the Spring semester," said Paul Oliaro, Vice President for Student Affairs.

Increasing numbers of students could potentially mean limited spots in classes, which was the case for Almaraz. "I wasn't able to register for one of my classes for my major and I'm just taking elective classes now," Almaraz said.

"Many of our deans have consolidated classes in the interest of being more efficient but we do have a sufficient number of seats to meet student demands for classes," said Oliaro. Fresno State says it can accommodate all students but they're hoping to avoid any future tuition increases.

The school will release the official enrollment numbers in the coming weeks. The Spring semester will wrap up on May 17th.

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