Opposition to AB 970 (Fong) – Systemwide Fees



RESOLVED: That the Academic Senate of the California State University (ASCSU) oppose
Assembly bill 970 (Fong).

RESOLVED: That this resolution be distributed to the Board of Trustees of the California State University, Assembly Higher Education Committee, and Campus Senate Chairs.

RATIONALE: This bill would establish the Working Families Student Fee Transparency and Accountability Act. It would mandate the following for the CSU.

  1. Mandatory system fees could only be referenced to as “systemwide fees” or “fees” and not as “tuition.”
  2. Systemwide mandatory fees for residents could not be increased until 6 months after the increases were approved.
  3. That 1/3 of mandatory systemwide fee increases would be designated for student financial aid.
  4. That the CSU would provide an annual report on expenditures and financial aid to the Legislature.

The legislation should not be supported for the following associated reasons.

  1. Labeling systemwide charges as fees incurs several problems. Certain students, particularly veterans, may be disadvantaged in their attempts to receive financial aid to which they are entitled because of this terminology restriction. Additionally, these types of charges described as tuition by every other state. Transparency, one of the goals of the bill, would in fact be enhanced by referring to those charges as tuition.

  2. The CSU has been subjected to numerous severe budget cuts in recent years. While the CSU successfully manages to deliver excellent educational opportunities at a relatively low price, the system must be able to adjust its tuition to offset state budget cuts. The mandated delay would prohibit the system from obtaining necessary revenues as soon as possible, thereby jeopardizing both access and quality to the institution. Flexibility in setting fees is critical, especially when state allocations to the CSU budget are often not determined until well after admissions
    planning needs to take place and commitments to students are made. The CSU has a strong commitment to early notification for students and parents. However, decisions on access are made based upon revenue projections. If those projections are inaccurate, adjustments must be made to ensure spots for all eligible students admitted.

  3. While the CSU has a strong commitment to affordability and has adopted an informal “1/3 set aside” for fee increases, flexibility must be maintained in llocating student fees to best serve our students. For example, we have departed from the 1/3 formula in the allocation of the business graduate student fee. Such flexibility may be increasingly important as support from the state becomes increasingly uncertain.

Approved– March 15-16, 2012

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