Former CSUN student Iris Pupo, 20, was prepared to return to her status as a CSUN student after spending a semester at Los Angeles Mission College. However, as a former recipient of full financial funding at CSUN, she was not prepared to hear that she would have to pay for her tuition out of pocket.
‘I would have to pay upfront by the time school started,’ Pupo said. ‘Since I don’t have the money, I can’t go.’
While Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger declared a fiscal emergency for California Jan. 15 during his State of the State address, CSUN students, faculty and staff continue to feel the impact of budget cuts to the California State University system.
The state’s economic slump led Schwarzenegger to release a summary of his 2009-2010 budget proposals Dec. 31, 2008, before releasing the formal budget Jan. 9.
The proposals call for the CSU system to continue with cost reductions in the amount of $66.3 million. Also included in the proposals are a 10 percent tuition increase and a cut in funding for student aid programs like the Cal Grant program.
The CSU system has responded to the cost reductions by cutting back on first-time freshman admittance, suspending construction projects on campus and putting a hiring freeze on all positions except those necessary to keep the university in service.
Brian Ferguson, communications specialist for the California Faculty Association, expressed general concern in regards to the governor’s proposed budget cuts effect on institutions of higher learning.
‘It’s a bad decision for the long term prosperity of the state,’ said Ferguson.
Ferguson’s stance that the cuts impede on the university’s ability to produce college graduates due to the limit on first-time freshman admissions and fewer available sections per class is shared by James David Ballard, a CSUN associate professor of sociology.
‘Its dreams deferred,’ said Ballard. ‘(For) those who want to go to school it may take a little longer. Those who are already in school, it may take longer to graduate.’ Speaking hypothetically of what could be the outcome for faculty, Harold Hellenbrand, CSUN provost and vice president of Academic Affairs, said the campus could potentially have 90 fewer faculty positions.
Ballard said that tenured faculty members do the majority of student advising in their respective departments as well as develop new classes to keep up with the technological and social changes occurring in the workplace.
‘If no one keeps up with the new technology, classes become old and stale,’ Ballard said with respect to the potential decrease in faculty members.
Though the governor’s proposals overall lesson the CSU system’s funding, there is an increase in funding for nursing enrollments to supplement the state’s need for nurses in the health field. This could allow for 340 full-time nursing students.
Ferguson said that he sees this increase as a good thing. However, he questions whether it will be that effective.
‘Three-hundred and forty new nurses seem to be a drop in the bucket,’ Ferguson added.
During the governor’s State of the State address he warned that the severity of the economic situation in California would need the sacrifice of all Californians.
‘Now, of course no one wants to take money from our gang fighting programs or from Medi-Cal or from education,’ Schwarzenegger said. ‘Of course not.’ No one wants to pay more taxes or fees. But each of us has to give up something, because our country is in an economic crisis and our state simply doesn’t have the money.’
In that spirit, Pupo is returning to community college where she currently receives full funding, a move Hellenbrand suggests for anyone in her situation.
‘First I would maximize the amount of work I could do at a community college level,’ he said. ‘Secondly, I would sit down with the loan people on campus and I would take a hard look with them as to what loan money is available.’
As Pupo returns to LAMC there is one thing that she said CSUN provided that she cannot get at her community college.
‘I go to class and go home’ said Pupo. ‘It’s not like I can really get involved like I did at CSUN.’