The average residential California State University student fees for the past 10 years have been steadily rising, with the resident fees reaching $4,000 in the 2009-2010 school year. CSU Fee History.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger stood by his commitment to restore the California State University (CSU) budget when he signed the state budget pact on Oct. 8, the first state budget increase since 2007. With 433,000 students in the largest university system in the country, the CSU system will receive one-time federal stimulus funds to help payroll and bring back classes that were cut in recent years.The budget will bring back $199 million to CSUs, as well as include an additional $60.6 million for new enrollment. This will result in an increase of the year’s general fund, from $2.35 billion to $2.62 billion.

The general fund in 2009-2010 was the lowest the CSU has had since 1999-2000 ($2.25 billion). Because of this, the 23 campuses in the CSU system had to increase student tuition, cut enrollment, cancel classes and establish furlough days for faculty and students. Now, with a new budget in hand, representatives of the Chancellor’s Office will see to it that the funding will go to support students as much as possible at Cal Poly.

“The funding will go to restoring some of the courses, services and operations that were impacted by the last two years of state funding reductions,” said Erik Fallis, media relations specialist for the Chancellor’s Office. “A significant portion of the funding will be used to restore (additional classes) and faculty hires.”

Because of budget cuts in the past two years, the CSU system minimized enrollment by approximately 40,000 students since 2008. Now, the CSUs plan to admit 30,000 new students for the winter and spring 2011 terms. While this may seem like a generous amount, some are skeptical about the new admittance, including Cal Poly’s Interim President Robert Glidden.

“We wouldn’t be willing to accept students who don’t meet our academic standards,” Glidden said. “For some institutions, they can roll more easily with this than we can. And there is some possibility that if we don’t add enough or more students, then we will get penalized and they will not give us that money. It’s a very complex situation: they expect us to take more students because of the additional money, which, in a sense, is not unreasonable. The problem is timing.”

With a little less than a month and a half left in the fall quarter and November elections for new a governor approaching, time plays an important role. The California Faculty Association (CFA) communications specialist is eager for the new funding but, like President Glidden, worries about time.

“Depending on who is elected, the process could look very different,” said CFA spokesman Brian Ferguson. “We have two new people vying (to be governor) who have different views on how to fund higher education. There’s a lot of unknowns of how the state budget will look in the future, so faculty members continue to work to show law makers how important it is to fund the CSU.”

Agreeing with Ferguson, President Glidden also said the election will play a vital role in how the CSU budget will pan out.

“(With the election coming up) after November, we have some fear that if this budget was not totally realistic, then they might still make some changes,” Glidden said. “Nevertheless, we will plan with what we know now.”

Additionally, the CSU system will be receiving $106 million in one-time federal stimulus funds to bring back the classes that were cut in recent years.

“One of our priorities is making sure that money is being spent where it (is) intended, such as classrooms and educating students for (them) to be successful,” Ferguson said. “Class views are the most important things that school(s) can fund. The only forward way will be an increase in the money available to support course sections for (students).”

The last time the CSUs witnessed an increase in money was in 2007 when Gov. Schwarzenegger proposed a $299.5 million boost for the 23 campuses. The 2006-07 Budget Act included a total of $112 million from the general fund to support 8,490 additional students at the CSUs at $7,225 per student. The new funding being put into the CSU budget is a reinstatement of the past.

“(2007) was a very different time. The current budget is beginning to provide some restoration, but we haven’t gotten back to the level of funding (that will keep us stable),” said vice president for administration and finance Larry Kelley.

Students, however, may not see a decrease in their student fees.

“The governor’s budget proposal, which made it through the legislature and is now in state, (anticipates) a 10 percent increase (in student fees),” Kelley said. “The student board approved five percent and would consider a second increase mid-year, depending on the level of funding in the budget.”

Nevertheless, the increase in funding has left administrators both pleased and doubtful of the future. For some, it has been a long-awaited gift.

“We’re happy about (the budget increase); we think it’s long overdue,” Ferguson said. “CFA has been advocating many years to fight for proper funding for the CSU system. We’ve done a lot (to advocate) for students and staff; supports (have been behind us) to show (the state) why it’s good and necessary to fund the CSU.”

Some students, too, are eager about the budget proposal, as well as the new admissions for the following quarters.

“I was worried about (this situation) for my siblings and cousins and other people who haven’t gotten in to college yet, said biological sciences junior Nene Ugbah. The competition is still high, but now, they’ll have more of an opportunity to get into college during this time.”

For others, it remains questionable as to what the future holds.

“(Gov. Schwarzenegger) was absolutely positive to restore the budget, but there (are) still a lot of questions,” Glidden said. “We’re proceeding with some caution.”

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