monopoly_money.jpgA scheduled vote today by the California State University board of trustees on a proposed fee structure change intended to accelerate graduation throughout the CSU system has been postponed, university officials said.

The proposal to modify the undergraduate fee structure at the meeting held in Long Beach was part of today’s agenda, with the educational policy and finance committee scheduled to vote on the issue before it went before the full board.

The matter will be discussed and voted on at an undetermined future date, according to CSU officials.

Gov. Jerry Brown spoke at the start of today’s meeting, commenting that the postponement of the proposed fee hikes vote was a good decision.

“I understand the fee proposal was an effort to… free up seats to get more kids into the university. We will take a look at that, I want to participate,” the governor said.

He went on to discuss the passage of Proposition 30, a sales tax hike and income tax hike on those making at least $250,000 per year that received a 54 percent majority vote in last week’s election, which spared the CSU a series of imposed fee hikes.

“It was sorely needed,” he said. “It was not a panacea. We still need to manage our resources carefully.”

“We have tough decisions ahead in keeping down fees…to keep down costs,” Brown said this morning. “It means you have to find more state revenue if we want to really invest in our higher education.”

CSU Chancellor Charles Reed had contingency plans ready, including increasing tuition 5 percent annually, if the Proposition 30 failed and $250 million was cut from the system’s budget.

CSU’s postponed proposal would establish new fees three ways, including for students who have earned more credits than are necessary to graduate, are taking more than 18 credits per semester, or are repeating a course.

If passed, university officials estimate the policy would generate $30 million annually and allow more new students to enter the system.

Super seniors, or students with more than 150 units completed, will be charged $372 per unit beyond that limit.

There are currently 9,000 super seniors, but none are expected to be affected as there will be a one-year grace period.

A second fee would go toward students who take more than 18 units per semester.
Currently in place is a two-tier fee system, with a set price for students taking six or fewer units, and another for students taking more than six units.

If the proposal passes, any student with 18 or more units will be charged $182 per unit.
The third fee will be charged to any student who repeats a course.

Any student re-taking a class will be charged an additional $91.

At September’s meeting, the decision on the fee structure change was moved to November, which the trustees decided left enough time to implement the plan if necessary by fall 2013.

The CSU system released in a statement that today’s postponement will allow the trustees to “gather additional information and input from stakeholders.”

A CSU student group, Students for Quality Education, planned a demonstration today to protest the fee changes and present survey findings about graduation obstacles.

SQE spokeswoman Ojaala Ahmad, an international relations super senior at CSU Long Beach, said demonstrations on and off campus in the past month intended to show CSU officials that the proposed fees are “punishing students.”

She said students are already struggling to graduate because of unavailable classes and increasing fees.

In a SQE survey of nearly 2,400 students systemwide in the past month the group determined that the reasons for delayed graduation would not be ameliorated by fee increases.

According to their survey results, students would have to take out loans, work more hours, or postpone graduation even longer under the proposed fee schedule.

Ahmad said the group has a collection of statements from students, while she charged the trustees “absolutely don’t have anything to back them up.”

The University of California Regents are also postponing their vote on a proposed fee increase for graduate professional degrees at Wednesday’s meeting at UC San Francisco.

Brown had asked for additional time to look into the policies and methodologies behind the idea to set higher fees for professional programs.

The UC Regents are meeting at 8:30 a.m. Wednesday at UCSF Mission Bay at 1675 Owens St. in San Francisco.

Sasha Lekach, Bay City News

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