Cal State University Students Rally Against "Success Fees" - NBC Southern California

Cal State University Students Rally Against "Success Fees"

Opponents of the fee see it as more of a burden than a help toward obtaining their degree.



    While California universities may be under a tuition freeze, Cal State students are asking administrators to repeal so-called success fees, which they claim are tuition hikes in disguise. Hetty Chang reports for the NBC4 News at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, March 26, 2014. (Published Wednesday, March 26, 2014)

    Dozens of students protested against the enactment of student "success fees" at California State University campuses on Wednesday.

    Opponents of the success fees believe the fees will facilitate failure -- not success -- and are upset the university chain is reaching into students' pockets.

    The success fees are used to provide more course sections, academic support and recreational opportunities to the thousands of students who attend CSU schools.

    Of the 23 campuses, nearly a dozen have adopted such fees, CSU Director of Public Affairs Mike Uhlenkamp told NBC4.

    Students had the opportunity to state either their support or discontent with the fees at the CSU Board of Trustees open session on both Tuesday and Wednesday.

    Gov. Jerry Brown recently issued a moratorium on tuition increases, and opponents see the fees as a loophole that universities are using to get around it.

    Although he will be unaffected by the increase in student fees, graduate student Ryan Quinn opposes the fees.

    "Labeling this as a fee is deceptive," Quinn said during a live stream of the event. "It’s a tuition hike."

    But the CSU’s Chancellor’s Office does not consider these fees tuition hikes because the fees are initiated from individual campuses, said CSU Assistant Vice Chancellor of Public Affairs Laurie Weidner.

    A recommendation, consultation and approval process are unique to each school.

    Some examples of fee use include expanding library hours and resources, enabling Wi-Fi across the campus and hiring more faculty members, Uhlenkamp said. The fee is not a tuition-related expense.

    "Student participation is present throughout the whole process," Uhlenkamp said.

    Supporters of the student success fees see them as a way to provide a quality education that allows students to become productive members of the workforce.

    A first-generation college student expressed her support for student success fees during Wednesday’s open session.

    San Diego State University student Janelle wants to be able to graduate in four years and sees the fee as a source of support toward that goal.

    "I have to make an investment in my future," she said. "That is what I will do."

    The price of the proposed fee, which typically ranges from $173 to $600 per semester, and how the money is used is determined by each campus.

    How the fee will affect students’ financial aid depends on the individual.

    Uhlenkamp said more than half of CSU students pay tuition through financial aid -- which can also be used to alleviate all or some of the cost of the student success fee.

    Brown’s 2014-2015 budget summary will provide an ongoing $142.2 million to UC and CSU schools. This four-year investment is conditional, though. Universities must hold tuition flat at 2011-12 levels through 2016-17. Brown’s budget also cites getting a degree in a timely manner as one of the state’s top priorities.

    NBC4's Hetty Chang contributed to this report.

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