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Cal Poly Academic Affairs is proposing a plan to increase College Based Fees in order to offer students more financial aid and further fund Learn By Doing opportunities. Students can learn more and ask questions about this proposal at an open forum this Thursday.

The open forum will be on Zoom Thursday, Jan. 13, from 1:10-2 p.m. Students can also voice their feedback on the proposal in this form. Cal Poly will be consulting students and campus groups on the plan until Feb. 4. 

The College Based Fee (CBF) is a type of academic fee that all Cal Poly students pay. The revenue generated from the fee helps fund each of the six colleges at Cal Poly. 

For the current school year, students in the College of Architecture and Environmental Design (CAED), the College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences (CAFES), the College of Engineering (CENG), the College of Science and Mathematics (CSM) and Orfalea College of Business (OCOB) pay $1,044 in college based fees. Students in the College of Liberal Arts  (CLA) pay $648. 

According to the CBF website, the proposed plan will increase the fees for each college over five years. By the 2026-2027 school year, the proposed fees for CAED, CAFES and CENG will increase to $4,635. For CSM, OCOB and CLA the fee will increase to $3,605. Total cost of attendance — which includes tuition, fees, housing, books and travel — by the 2026-2027 school year is projected to increase to and range from $14,565 to $35,236 based on parent income.  

The new fee will be implemented for all new students in the Fall of 2022. Currently enrolled students will not pay the increased fee.

The website states that, for the incoming students in the fall, they will pay a 6% to 8.5% annual increase of tuition and fees with the new CBF. Future students will pay an additional 4.9% to 7.7% annual increase of tuition and fees.

This adjusted fee aims to help fund larger financial aid and scholarship packages, research, increased faculty pay and aid, field experiences, student trips and other hands-on opportunities and academic programs. 

In pro-con statements Cal Poly gathered from students, business administration student Martha Godinez said the fee increase could increase student body diversity and help hire instructors. Industrial engineering student Yumi Aguilar said the proposal seems counterproductive since financial aid cannot cover the increased student fee and the higher price tag may deter families with lower incomes. Aguilar advocated for Cal Poly to explore other options and collect more data on students receiving financial aid, scholarships and grants.

Cal Poly remains one of the most expensive public universities in California for students who rely on financial aid, according to a Campus Fee Advisory Committee statement. Cal Poly is the only public school where the average amount of financial aid grants and scholarships given out to students is less than the total cost of attendance, making it hard for lower income families and students to afford the school. 

According to the CBF Educational Presentation, 60% of the revenue from the fee will go to financial aid and scholarships and 40% of the revenue will be used to fund academic opportunities. However, even with this fee, tuition is still expected to increase for some future students.

The proposed plan highlights that the increase in financial aid will offset the cost to students with family incomes lower than $150,000. For students with family incomes above $150,001, there will be an increase in total cost of attendance.

Despite the increase in cost to higher-income students, the website states that Cal Poly “will continue to be lower in cost than the University of California (UC) campuses for students from families with incomes over $150,000.” 

In order to approve the proposal, Cal Poly is required to either use an advisory student referendum or an advisory alternative consultation method. President Jeffrey Armstrong opted for the alternative consultation that will allow the CBF Academic Mission Advisory Committee to provide feedback on the plan. The committee will be made up of at least three faculty members, three student members, associate deans, department heads and college budget personnel.

Another open forum will be held on Zoom on Monday, Jan. 24, from 11:10 a.m. to 12 p.m. In addition, Cal Poly will be presenting this plan to several campus groups; specific dates can be found on the website. 

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