Cal Poly students will not face a tuition increase next year, after all.
Chancellor Timothy White said in a statement Friday the CSU Board of Trustees will no longer consider a proposal to hike student fees by 4 percent for the 2018-19 academic year, which was set for a vote in May. Instead, the 23-campus system will focus on lobbying the state for more funding.
Cal Poly spokesman Matt Lazier said the university is helping the CSU fulfill its mission and supporting California better than ever before, noting the school is graduating students at record levels.
"However, we cannot maintain or expand that level of success without sufficient funding," Lazier said. "We support the efforts of the CSU over the next two months to persuade lawmakers that the key to California's future is to sufficiently fund the California State University as requested by the Board of Trustees."
Cal Poly students already pay the highest campus-based fees among their peers within the system, according to data from the CSU budget office.
White said in his statement Friday that California's students and their families "should not be saddled with additional financial burden to attain public higher education."
CSU is seeking a $263 million funding increase from the state, nearly three times what Gov. Jerry Brown offered in his January budget proposal. The university said it needs the money to add courses, hire more faculty and expand academic support services as part of an ongoing initiative to improve graduation rates, as well as to cover employee raises and upgrade buildings.
But Brown has made clear that he is not interested in boosting funding for CSU or the University of California, which is also weighing a possible tuition hike, beyond the $92 million he proposed in January. At his budget press conference, he said the universities would simply have to lower their cost structures and "live within their means."
"You're getting 3 percent more and that's it," Brown said. "They're not going to get any more. They've got to manage. I think they need a little more scrutiny over how they’re spending things."
The Legislature has been more sympathetic to CSU's requests, particularly because the system now has to turn away about 30,000 qualified students each year for lack of space. Senate President Pro Tem Toni Atkins and Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon both said in statements that they were pleased with the decision not to raise tuition and were committed to increasing state higher education funding.
That does not mean there will be a deal with Brown, however. White acknowledged the risk of calling off the fee hike without a funding guarantee.
"I'm a perennial optimist," he said.
He challenged Brown and lawmakers to take leadership on closing a projected labor shortage in California of more than a million college graduates over the next decade, especially as rising rents and other high living costs have made it harder than ever for students to stay in school.
"It's a wise decision for the state," White said. "I see this as Californians coming together around what's in the best interest of its students."