CSUN tuition below national average, still growing fast

Tuition and fees for CSUN have increased by over 43 percent the last few years due in part to budget cuts, making it the ninth largest growth for a public, four-year university in the country.

The cost for attending CSUN skyrocketed from $3,350 in 2007 to $4,801 in 2010, according to the U.S. Department of Education.

Costs are continuing to go up.

CSU Board of Trustees approved a 10 percent increase in tuition for Fall 2011, addressing the $500 million cut approved by state legislators in March.

The most recent blow to the CSU came in June when a state budget was adopted and Gov. Jerry Brown signed, reducing state funding by an additional $150 million.

James Ballard, CSUN professor and California Faculty Association member, expressed disappointment with the budget.

“People in the legislature are not allowing students dreams to come to fruition,” Ballard said. “That’s what’s really killing our economy.”

CSU Board of Trustees met on July 12, voting to increase tuition 12 percent to account for the latest reduction, bringing tuition totals for fall to $5,472.

Students with financial aid were likely fully covered from the tuition hike. One-third of the revenue coming from the tuition increase was allocated to financial aid, according to the CSU Budget Central Blog.

Students who do did count on financial aid saw a total increase of $516 in tuition for fall, including the $222 increase approved in March and the $294 increase approved in July.

There was no other feasible option but the tuition hikes, according to Erik Fallis, CSU media relations specialist.

“We’re really at a point where cutting any deeper within the institution is going to cause lasting damage,” said Fallis.

Still, CSUN remains one of the most affordable public universities in the country, with tuition well below the national average, which is currently $6,397.

CSUN Provost Harry Hellenbrand does not see tuition staying below average for long though.

“We’re catching up with the rest of the country,” Hellenbrand said. “We’ll be at the national average in two to three years.”

One reason for the constant cutting from the CSU is there is no provision that protects post-secondary institutions from funding reductions by the state.

“[State legislators are] solving a short-term problem and causing a long-term, bigger problem,” said Hellenbrand.

Another concern that could impact CSUN students negatively is a possible “trigger” cut that would reduce funding another $100 million if state revenues over the next few months do not match estimated projections, set at $4 billion.

“The challenge of this potential additional $100 million is if we don’t have advanced warning,” said Fallis.

For first-time freshmen, graduating within four years could prove even more difficult, with only about 10 percent at CSUN accomplishing this now, according to the Institute of Education Sciences.

“They’re going to have long term problems graduating,” Ballard said. “They think they’re going to graduate in four years; it’s going to take them six.”

Data gathered from Institutional Research