Governor Jerry Brown presented the May Revision of the California budget May 16 at a press conference in Sacramento, where he confirmed the potential for a $1 billion reduction in the California State University (CSU) budget. The reduction could mean a 32 percent tuition increase.
The California State University system already faces a definite $500 million budget cut for the upcoming school year, and depending on the outcomes of Brown’s proposed tax systems, a second $500 million cut could be added on top of this.
“A budget cut of $1 billion will open a whole new set of really bad possibilities,” CSU media relations specialist Erik Fallis said.
While the CSU system is still preparing a contingency plan in case the additional cuts are made, Fallis said he remains optimistic.
“We are hopeful the governor will be able to find the Republican votes he needs in order to get the tax extensions put onto the ballot and only cut us by the $500 million that has already been confirmed,” Fallis said.
But if the additional cuts are made, in what the Brown administration called an “all cuts” budget, a series of negative consequences will impact students and the state of California.
The governor’s official budget summary stated, “reductions of this magnitude would significantly impair the universities’ critical role in training the state’s workforce and encouraging innovation.”
According to Fallis, the subsequent 32 percent tuition hike that would be necessary if the budget is cut further means an increase of $1,566 to student tuition at all CSU campuses.
For some students, including graphic communication junior Kristina Colelli, this could mean re-budgeting their college education and loans.
“It’s unfair that they keep raising the tuition but we aren’t seeing any benefits,” Colelli said. “It wasn’t in my budget when I started college. I may have to take out loans now.”
Cal Poly President Jeffrey Armstrong said if the additional cuts were put in place, he would do everything in his power to make the best decision possible to support student learning and student success.
“I don’t want to speculate about cuts or anything of that nature,” he said. “Anything I’d say beyond that is pure speculation at this point and speculation is not valuable.”
Until final decisions are made, Armstrong said he is focused on how to generate additional money to move Cal Poly forward.
“(Our goal is) not just to survive, but thrive and enhance the quality of our Learn By Doing,” Armstrong said.
While Armstrong’s focus is currently to make positive strides for Cal Poly to prepare for any sort of budgetary results, other departments on campus had speculative estimates based on the potential 32 percent tuition raise.
Vice President for Administration and Finance Larry Kelley said if the Chancellor’s Office does have to request the 32 percent fee increase, that increase is estimated to reduce the additional $500 million cut by about $400 million.
Many other changes would have to take place to save money, some of which will be campus specific, including decisions for program and service cuts made at the campus level.
Kelley said it is too soon to know how much of the reduction will have to be handled by campuses individually, but plans are in the works to find ways to help students handle the fee increases.
“One-third of the proposed fee increase will be set aside to provide financial aid to students,” Kelley said.
In addition, the CSU system is facing the contingency of shutting down the winter and spring wait listing, which would potentially turn away 20,000 qualified applicants.
In the event that the additional budget cuts are implemented, Kelley said decisions made that either confirm or deny the fee increases may be made in July.