For Diane Smith, a graduating senior liberal arts major and political science minor, trying to get into one of her last classes before graduation was a nightmare.
Last semester, Smith found herself, along with some of her peers, on a waiting list to add a popular political science class. When Smith was not able to get into the class, she got worried, and went to the chair of the Political Science Department.
“He basically told me that he couldn’t afford to pay more teachers to add another class or section because of budget cuts,” Smith said. “I ended up having to go to the Liberal Studies Department, where they replaced that class with another so I wouldn’t have to wait another semester to graduate.”
“I remember talking with other students who said they were having the same problems,” she said. “I wasn’t alone.”
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger sent his revised state budget for 2005-06 to the California Legislature May 13. A completed version of the budget must pass through the Legislature by the start of the state’s next fiscal year — July 1 — to avoid massive financial and logistical complications.
In the proposed budget, the governor fully funds the Compact for Higher Education and enhances student access to the California State University, according to budget language. The governor has promised to increase the CSU’s base budget by at least 3 percent through 2011 and back away from strict enrollment limits by providing funding for 8,000 new CSU students, beginning this year.
For Smith and other students, this might equate to more class availability and less worrying about having priority registration.
The Compact, made between the governor and CSU Chancellor Charles Reed in 2004, offered an unconfirmed guarantee of future positive renovation of CSU funding in return for deep cuts to vital programs in the 2004-05 budget.
Although the governor has made adjustments to the budget, the 23 campuses in the CSU system are still facing a large deficit, according to Alice Sunshine, communications director for the California Faculty Association.
“The governor’s budget is just not good enough,” Sunshine said. “The bottom line remains: The CSU is $552 million in the hole since 2003, which is almost 20 percent of the total state portion of the CSU budget, and the Compact would ensure the CSU stays unfunded.”
The governor’s revised budget calls for an increase of $212 million in the CSU budget, which will be the first increase after three consecutive years of budget reductions.
The extra funds will give the CSU the ability to enroll 10,000 new students beginning in fall 2005, according to the budget.
The backlash for CSU students next year will be an increase in tuition fees. Students will face an 8 percent fee increase for 2005-06.
Student fees have risen in sporadic jumps since 2002-03, when they shot up 10.2 percent for undergraduates. Student fees then rose again by 30.2 percent for undergraduates in 2003-04. In 2004-05, there was a 14.1 percent increase in student fees for undergraduates.
For Kim Feretich, a junior business major, the increase in student fees presents a problem for her and her family.
“My family already pays enough for my tuition, housing and books,” she said. “It is hard, financially, to expect them to pay for all of my fees and then tell them that they should be expecting the bill to go up.”
“I chose to go to a CSU because it was less expensive than a (University of California) school, but still provided a quality education,” she said.
While the governor promises to increase the CSU budget and restore money for enrollment growth next year, Sunshine said the Compact does nothing to secure funds that would provide slots to the more than 11,000 qualified freshman applicants who were rejected by both systems for this fall.
“I am just worried about my younger sister,” Smith said. “She will be going into college next year, and I can only hope she doesn’t have to deal with as much run-around as I did.”