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California State University
The Mandatory Fees Its Campuses Charge Receive Little Oversight Yet They Represent
an Increasing Financial Burden to Students

Report Number: 2019-114

Figure 1
The Fee Policy Requires Campuses to Use One of Two Types of Consultation Processes Before Implementing or Adjusting Mandatory Fees

This figure presents the different fee policy requirements for the two types of consultations processes campuses must choose between before implementing or adjusting mandatory fees.

First, the campus president decides which process to conduct. If the president chooses to conduct an advisory student vote, according to the policy, the president consults with the student body association and the faculty senate to develop guidelines to ensure the process is fair, open, and objective. CFAC creates a pamphlet with objective analysis of the fee proposal and pro and con statements. The campus publishes this informational pamphlet and ballot information in the campus newspaper at least 30 days before the vote. CFAC then considers the results of the student vote and makes a recommendation for or against the proposal.

If the president chooses to conduct an "alternative consultation" process, the president informs the CFAC of the decision to use alternative consultation and demonstrates why it will be more effective than a vote. CFAC and the student body association develop strategies to ensure that the process is transparent and meaningful, and solicits student input. Similar to the advisory vote, CFAC can prepare a pamphlet with objective analysis of the fee proposal and statements for and against the proposal. The campus summarizes the results of the consultation process for the CFAC and the president to use the results as additional advisory material. CFAC makes a recommendation to the president.

Regardless of which process the campus follows, the president ultimately makes a decision about the fee proposal. In doing so, he or she may overrule the CFAC recommendation and the results of the student vote.

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Figure 2
Despite the Recovery in Funding to the CSU, Mandatory Fee Revenue Will Reach Nearly $1 Billion in 2024-25 If Recent Trends Continue

This graph presents the trend of mandatory fee revenue for the CSU systemwide. From fiscal years 2007-08 through 2017-18, mandatory fee revenue has increased steadily over the years. Based on this data, if campuses continue to increase fees at the rate they have since 2008, systemwide fee revenue will total nearly $1 billion annually by fiscal year 2024-25. In addition, the graph shows that in fiscal year 2007-08, the CSU received $4.3 billion in tuition and General Fund support, which amounted to $14,130 per full time equivalent student. This number reflects the funding in 2017-18 numbers, adjusted for inflation. From 2007-08 to 2013-14, 12 campuses established student success fees, citing state funding cuts as a reason for the fee. As a result of decreased funding, the CSU received only $4.9 billion in tuition and General Fund support in 2013-14 adjusted for inflation in 2017-18 numbers, or $13,360 per full time equivalent student. However, from 2013-14 to 2017-18, campuses continue to increase mandatory fees as state funding recovers. By fiscal year 2017-18, combined revenue from tuition and General Fund support recovered and was higher than the inflation-adjusted amount in 2007-08. Specifically, the CSU received $6.4 billion in fiscal years 2017-18, or $15,140 per full time equivalent student.

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Figure 3
Over the Past Five Years, the Mandatory Fee Amounts Students Have Paid Out of Pock or Using Loans Have Increased.

This figure presents the average amount of mandatory fees students at Chico State, San Diego State and Cal Poly paid out of pocket or using loans in academic year 2018-19. For Chico State, the graphic show that 6,500 students paid an average amount of $1,400 of mandatory fees using loans, a 24% increase than in 2014-15. Similarly, 10,700 students at Chico State paid an average of $1,200 of mandatory fees out-of-pocket in academic year 2018-19, which is an 18% increase than in 2014-15 and the percentage this number has increased since academic year 2014-15. At San Diego State, 7,100 students paid an average amount of $2,000 in mandatory fees using loans, a 23% increase than in 2014-15, and 16,200 students paid an average of $1,900 in mandatory fees out-of-pocket in academic year 2018-19, a 21% increase than in 2014-15. Finally, at Cal Poly, 4,900 students paid an average amount of $2,500 in mandatory fees using loans, and 16,700 students paid an average of $3,100 in mandatory fees out-of-pocket in academic year 2018-19. These numbers represent 10% and 12% increases, respectively, from the average amount in academic year 2014-15 for students at Cal Poly. The graphic does not include any information about San Jose State students because the campus was unable to provide us with data regarding how students paid mandatory fees. In addition, Cal Poly, Chico State, and San Diego State informed us that some students who pay out of pocket or with loans may subsequently receive financial aid in the form of refunds from the campus. However, the campuses could not tell us precisely how this would affect the numbers we calculated. Although this may affect the precision of some of the numbers in this graphic, it ides not affect our conclusion that mandatory fee costs have increased for students over the past five years.

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Figure 4
Campuses Use Some Mandatory Fees to Support the CSU's Core Functions

This figure shows that the CSU relies primarily on tuition and General Fund revenue to support its core functions of instructing and graduating students. These core functions include paying for faculty, classrooms, supplies and equipment, and counseling and support services. However ,campuses also charge students some mandatory fees to support these same core functions. The figure demonstrates that mandatory fees also pay for salaries and benefits for faculty, classroom and library renovations, computers and software, laboratory equipment, peer mentorship programs, student resource centers and tutoring services.

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