News Column

Cal State Students Concerned Despite Postponement of Fee Hikes

Nov. 15, 2012

Marijke Rowland, The Modesto Bee

California State University, Stanislaus, students remain apprehensive about possible fee hikes even after regents postponed a vote on them in the wake of the passage of Proposition 30 last week.

The university system's board of trustees pulled a vote Tuesday on the increases, which would target students who retake classes, have heavy class loads or are so-called super seniors.

The proposed fees are meant to open space in the crowded state system for an additional 18,000 enrollment slots. But students at CSU, Stanislaus, said it hurts those already on campus while not helping them find ways to graduate.

"They say this is a way to have students graduate on time, but they are actually penalizing students for wanting to pursue their education," said Mariam Salameh, a senior and vice president of Stanislaus State Associated Students Inc. "We are happy they postponed it for now, but they could still bring it back and propose it again. A lot of students are upset that this could happen."

With the passage of Gov. Jerry Brown's Proposition 30, the UC and the CSU each will get an additional $125 million in state funding next year. The CSU is reducing tuition in January.

But the proposition has not stopped talk of the new proposed fees, which could impose anywhere from $91 to $372 per unit per semester for current students. The fees target students repeating a course with an additional $91 fee per unit, students with course loads more than 17 units with an additional $182 fee per unit, and students who have obtained 160 units with $372 per unit. The fees are less for those on the quarter system.

Salameh, a sociology major, said much of the talk of the fees is about "super seniors," or students who have surpassed the 120 credits needed to graduate but still have not completed their requirements. But she said the fees could hurt all students in the system.

"They say these super sen-iors are holding a seat from a student who could have a course," she said. "But you could look at it both ways, and in the end it's the students who pay the price. Students who have to repeat a course. Students who are trying to extend their units in a semester to graduate early. If you think about it, they're kind of contradicting themselves."

Marjorie Jaasma, the CSU, Stanislaus, interim associate vice president of academic planning and analysis, said the number of super seniors at the university is relatively small. Last year, there were 173 students with an excess of 150 credits, out of a total of 7,921 undergraduate students.

Jaasma said the fees are less about generating funds for the school and more about encouraging behavior in students. For the past few years, the university has worked with the super seniors, sending them information and offering advisement and other help to get them to graduation. Jaasma said the university plans to continue the practice.

She said most of the students are in their situation because of transfers, late major declarations or double majors. Fewer have said they had difficulty enrolling in the classes they needed.

Anxiety for music majors

Still, the uncertainty of fees in the future has CSU, Stanislaus, students such as Cody Leverett and Joban Aguilar, both juniors, worried. They said that as music majors, they often have to enroll in 18 or 19 units a semester and they retake ensemble classes each year as part of their training.

"I took AP classes in high school and will still have to be here an extra semester because of class rotations," Leverett said. "They want us to graduate on time, but the system isn't really helping. And now these fees. It's scary."



Source: (c)2012 The Modesto Bee (Modesto, Calif.) Distributed by MCT Information Services


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