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Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism University of Southern California
Southern California

Cal State Colleges Propose Tuition Raise For First Time In Four Years

Students say they're struggling with paying for tuition as it is.

Cal State colleges have not experienced a hike in tuition in four years, but the CSU board of trustees announced today that they would submit a proposal to raise tuition by two percent. Annenberg radio news spoke to CSU-Los Angeles students and faculty who voiced their concern and disapproval. 

Emma Nwaukwa, a senior public health student at CSULA, said she’s struggling with paying for tuition as it is. 

“It takes the financial aid a long time to process,” she said. “I’ve been paying out of pocket this entire time. My registration day for next semester’s classes is Friday, and I can’t even add classes because I have to wait till payday to pay out of pocket.”

Professor of film and television at CSULA, Vincent Brook said this is an issue of economic injustice. 

“In raising fees for those who cannot afford tuition to begin with is just really somewhat unethical,” he said. “I don’t think it’s in the interest of society in general.”

Brook’s students had complaints after Cal State raised tuition by 22 percent between 2010 and 2012

“It affects morale, overall morale when the facilities aren’t as good as they might be,” he said. “I have a lot of complaints from my students about the facilities not being up to snuff, so they seem to be paying more but not getting more for their money.”

Finances don't only impact morale. Meryln Galicia is a fourth-year business management student who struggles with staying healthy due to the financial restrictions within a low-income home. 

“It’s a burden when the fees are so high and you try and manage your life and being a student,” she said. “It’s really hard to buy extra stuff or even maintain a healthy diet because that’s important for me too. Some survival stuff we need, so I struggle with being healthy. Cheaper food is the fast food so that’s what my family leans toward.”

Rebecca David, a professor of fashion at the CSULA art school, said her students cannot afford the tuition now so they work 30 to 40 hour work weeks while studying full time. This delays graduation for the students juggling both work and school. 

“When you look at what’s considered on-time graduation at Cal States in general, it’s already up close to six years,” she said. “Part of the reason why, is because students aren’t really full time students. They may be meeting the full time requirement, but they are not set on a track to graduate in four years and that’s because they’re working.”

The financial aid office at Cal State Los Angeles spells out costs per credit unit. (Joy Hahn)
The financial aid office at Cal State Los Angeles spells out costs per credit unit. (Joy Hahn)

The institute for college access and success released its annual report yesterday that found nearly 70 percent of students at four-year non-profit colleges average more than $25,000 in student loans. 

Franklin Hernandez plans to return to Cal State LA as a student after some time off and he believes the government is responsible for putting a system in place to easily access financial aid because of an inevitable tuition hike. 

“It’s absurd and it’s really ridiculous that the price hikes have been set up and it’s stressing all these students out,” he said. “Get the government involved and have them help out the students, and you build a better future for America, and a better world too.” 

Click here to listen to the radio story. 

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