November 30, 2021

DCTRS

Damascus Center for Theoretical and Civil Rights Studies

Cal State will not raise tuition, citing COVID-19 hardships

The California State University announced Tuesday it would not increase tuition this year for the system’s 485,000-plus students, amid pandemic-related hardships and higher than expected funding from the state.

“I want to make sure all of our students hear that, and that all of our students who are thinking about coming to the CSU hear that: No increase in tuition for 2021-2022,” Chancellor Joseph I. Castro said at a meeting of the CSU’s board of trustees.

Castro said that, assuming state and federal support comes through, he would not support a systemwide employee furlough program and officials will do “everything we can to avoid additional layoffs of permanent CSU staff or faculty.”

The new chancellor said Gov. Gavin Newsom’s budget proposal, released earlier this month, as well as CSU’s cost-cutting efforts led to the decision.

Newsom’s budget proposal for next year included $144.5 million in recurring funding for the CSU — nearly half of the $299 million that was cut last year amid the recession and state budget deficit. Much of that money will go toward the CSU’s Graduation Initiative 2025, including money to support students’ basic needs of food and housing. The initiative, described by CSU leaders as their “highest priority,” is a 10-year effort to increase graduation rates and close equity gaps between underrepresented students and their peers.

The recurring funding also includes $15 million for student technology access and student mental health.

The budget also includes $225 million in one-time funding for the CSU. The lion’s share of that, $175 million, will go toward deferred maintenance, but $30 million was set aside for emergency financial assistance for students.

In releasing the budget Newsom made clear that the funding he proposed for CSU — as well as for UC — was conditioned upon the university systems maintaining tuition and fees at current levels and taking steps to reduce equity gaps significantly.

The CSU was hit hard by the pandemic, taking not only the $299-million cut in state revenue, but also hundreds of millions of dollars in lost revenue from operations like housing and parking and additional expenses associated with virtual instruction and COVID-19 prevention, testing and tracing.

In addition to state revenue, CSU received a total of $563.7 million from the federal CARES Act, about half of which went directly to students in the form of emergency aid, and will receive another $853.9 million from the most recent stimulus passed by Congress, administrators said Tuesday.

Campuses are also expected to spend a total of $200 million out of their balances and reserves this year to help make up for the systemwide deficit.

The CSU announced in December that it planned to return to in-person instruction and activities in the fall 2021 term. Castro reaffirmed that intent at the meeting Tuesday, although he acknowledged that if public health circumstances change, the university would adjust.