By Aaron Salazar
California Governor Jerry Brown publicly released plans for the 2015-16 fiscal budget on Friday. The budget includes plans for the state to expand funding for both the University of California and California State University systems.
The CSU system, which comprises of 23 campuses, receives funding from two sources: the general fund provided by the state of California, and from tuition and other student fees. The CSU’s total budget is roughly $5 billion, and its two sources of revenue are pretty evenly split.
For the 2015-16 fiscal year, the CSU system asked for an additional $269 million for the general fund, and was met with a tentative proposal of $119.5 million for the upcoming year. A one-time allocation of $25 million is included in the budget proposal, which could be used to address the universities’ most pressing maintenance issues.
Michael Uhlenkamp, director of public affairs at the CSU Chancellor’s ffice, hopes to see the CSU system receive part the additional funding of $97.1 million it has requested on top of what the state has tentatively projected the CSU to receive.
“We are obviously getting additional funding, and anytime you get additional funding is a good thing,” said Uhlenkamp via a phone interview. “It allows us to enroll additional students and better service the students that we have, but with that said, it’s not enough to meet the universities’ needs.”
The CSU system plays a vital role in California’s growing economy. The CSU campuses awarded over 103,000 degrees in 2013-14, which accounts for nearly half of the undergraduate degrees and a third of the master’s degrees awarded in the state.
“The CSU is important to the fabric of California,” said Uhlenkamp. “As the CSU goes, California goes.”
The current price of tuition has many students debating about whether they should attend college or not. Since the 2008 recession, tuition has nearly doubled in cost.
“We want to keep if affordable at the CSU level,” said Uhlenkamp. “We do not plan on increasing tuition for 2015-16, but that doesn’t mean we won’t look at it in future years. We need to make sure that we are as efficient as possible in doing all of the things we can to make sure that tuition remains the same and that funding is coming from other sources.”
Proposition 30, passed in 2012, has generated some extra money, and California’s new fiscal budget proposal for 2015-2016 will potentially free up more funds. Students in both the CSU and UC systems may finally catch a tuition break.
Cal Poly Pomona expects to know more about the funding in February or March.
“We know what the governor has [tentatively] allocated for the CSU,” said Mark Lopez, director of budget services at Cal Poly Pomona, via a phone interview. “We don’t know what the CSU is going to give to Cal Poly Pomona. Cal Poly normally gets around 4.5 percent of the total CSU budget, but that is a very rough number and anything could change.”
However, the CSU still needs the extra funding from the state. If the total of $269 million is approved in the final budget, the system could increase enrollment by as much as 3 percent and address other pressing needs.
“Access to higher education is one of the big issues that the state is dealing with,” said Devon Graves, CPP fourth-year political science student and California State Student Association chair. “If we can increase the number of students we are able to enroll into the university, that’s an increase of students that get to pursue a higher education.”
With additional funds, campuses could begin to add new or remodel buildings, add more classes for students and hire or give raises to faculty members.
“For the CSU in general, we need to make sure that our students are in a safe environment,” said Graves.
The budget will not be finalized until late June, and will not be signed until early July. More information about Governor Brown’s budget proposal is available on the state’s official website.
Sungah Choi / The Poly Post
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