There are many lost people trying to find their way on campus today who considered being Matadors several months in advance when they were on CSU Mentor filling out applications. But these new students are nowhere near being lost, having paid a tuition much higher than before.
Despite a 40 percent increase in the cost of tuition in the past five years, freshmen enrollment at CSUN remains strong, closely trailing the number of new transfer students admitted to the university.
The 2006 CSUN Profile, compiled by the Office of Institutional Research, shows that last year 3,695 freshmen and 3,833 new transfer students enrolled in the university. The same report shows that the cost of tuition for full-time students who are state residents is $3,042, while the 2001 report shows tuition at $1,814.
Higher education is not getting cheaper, which may be why many high school graduates head to community colleges to knock out their general education requirements before transferring to CSUN.
Ester Pak, a senior fashion merchandising major, spent two years at a community college trying to save money for tuition while completing her lower division classes.
“Going to a community college cuts the cost in half,” she said. “There, you pay per unit.”
In fact, Los Angeles Pierce College charges state residents $20 per unit while full-time CSUN freshmen have to pay about $1,500 per semester. With a 12-unit load, that is a difference of $1,260.
Going to a community college right out of high school does have its disadvantages, however.
“If you want to save money, it’s a good idea. But in saving money, you can lose time,” Pak said. After transferring to CSUN from a community college in the Bay Area, she was almost held back because some of the classes did not count toward a degree at CSUN, Pak said.
For students who shoulder the financial burden of education on their own or with the help of their parents, going to a community college for two years may seem like a viable option. But for those who receive at least some federal aid, attending school for four years may be a more realistic goal, as a financial aid check per semester can at least pay for tuition. Housing could also be affordable for students who received a more substantial amount of federal aid.
With the help of financial aid and at the insistence of her older sister, Laura Alvarado, freshman criminology major, decided to enroll at CSUN right after graduating from high school.
“Few of my friends went to a community college first,” Alvarado said. With financial aid and student loans, going to CSUN for four years seemed plausible, she said.
Alvarado also said coming to CSUN will allow her to get away from home and hopefully get an early start on a career in criminology.
Even though the price of tuition is a concern to some new students, quality of education plays a role in determining where students proceed after high school.
Dr. Sheryl Spector, director of the Academic First Year Experience, said that perhaps many freshmen enroll at CSUN because they are aware of the excellent programs that the campus offers.
“They value a consistent program,” Spector said.
Spector said CSUN offers a more personalized program with the Living Learning Community for incoming freshmen, where they can interact with students who are new to college life and take classes together in order to get better acquainted with a new environment.
Financially, CSUN may seem like an attractive school to freshmen, Spector said.
“I believe we have a strong financial program,” she said.
Whatever their reasons may be, these students have chosen to pay the high price that now comes with pursuing a higher education.