Budget Aidan McGloin | Mustang News

Gov. Gavin Newsom unveiled a new 2019-20 state budget proposal Thursday, Jan. 16 that would substantially increase California State University (CSU) funding.

The purpose of the budget increase is to make higher education more accessible, affordable and efficient for California students, including those of nontraditional circumstances, according to the Budget Summary.

Newsom proposed $36.4 billion towards higher education, including CSU campuses, University of California (UC) campuses and California community college campuses. This would be a 4 percent increase from last year’s higher education expenditures.

“It’s refreshing and exciting to see that Governor Newsom has dedicated much-needed funds to the community college, UC, and CSU systems — funds that will go towards further improving resources and accessibility for our students as they move towards obtaining their degrees,” Associated Students, Inc. (ASI) President Jasmin Fashami wrote in an email to Mustang News. “This budget increase is a great step in the right direction, ultimately showing the state’s dedication to higher education for students in need. I’m looking forward to the Governor’s continued support in future years to come.”

Newsom’s budget proposes a $300 million General Fund increase for CSU’s. The budget includes increased funding towards operational costs, enrollment growth and the Graduation Initiative 2025, which aims to increase graduation rates for CSU students. The General Fund expenditures would also go toward improving classrooms, expanding campus buildings and sustaining general maintenance.

In response to Newsom’s visionary budget of making higher education more affordable, the CSU Chancellor Timothy P. White announced Tuesday, Jan. 22 he will not be requesting an increase in CSU tuition for the 2019-20 school year from the Board of Trustees.

“You heard me right – tuition is off the table,” White said at a CSU board of trustees meeting in Long Beach.

This is the second year that CSU tuition will be frozen at $5,742. Though Fashami believes this is a step in the right direction, she said she thinks it is important to look at the bigger picture.

“As a student who has struggled financially at points throughout my college career, knowing that the cost of tuition will not be increasing is very exciting and quite a relief,” Fashami wrote. “However, rather than solely focusing on tuition, I think it is important to acknowledge the total cost of living as a student of the CSU system.For example, the cost of housing, food, and healthcare – which are all considered basic needs – need to be better addressed. Students pursuing an education must have a college experience that is holistic of their needs beyond their time in a classroom.”

When asked about the tuition freeze, University Spokesperson Matt Lazier said it was too early to know how this will impact Cal Poly.

“Given that the governor’s proposed budget is still proposed and not yet adopted, it’s too early for Cal Poly to speculate on possible impacts,” Lazier wrote in an email to Mustang News.

However, the budget proposal will have no effect on the approved Cal Poly Opportunity Grant (CPOG) and Cal Poly Opportunity Fee (CPOF), according to CSU Chancellor’s Office Manager of Public Affairs Elizabeth Hetherington.

“The Cal Poly Opportunity Fee is a campus-based fee, which is managed by the campus and separate from systemwide tuition,” Hetherington wrote in an email to Mustang News.

This tuition freeze will also not affect enrollment growth, as Newsom’s proposed budget includes $62 million to raise enrollment by 2 percent.

“The announcement was made in response to the budget proposal, which was generous to CSU’s. The budget plan includes funding for enrollment growth, so it is all very positive,” Hetherington wrote.

The budget especially puts emphasis on helping student-parents succeed. A proposed $121.6 million would go towards Cal Grant Access Awards for student-parents. Additionally, funds are allocated to expand on-campus child centers.

Additionally, the budget proposes a $15 million General Fund to address hunger and homelessness among students and a $7 million General Fund toward immigration legal services, including funding for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). The General Fund also boosts an increase of $250,000 for Project Rebound, which helps formerly incarcerated persons to enroll in the CSU system as students.

The notion that any student can succeed in higher education, regardless of any obstacles they may have faced, or may come to face, is the crucial driving force behind Newsom’s budget.

“The California Dream – the idea that every person can achieve a better life, regardless of where they start out – is central to who we are as Californians,” Newsom said. “As elected representatives of the people, it’s our job to make the California Dream real once more.”

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