Newly-approved fee to be implemented fall semester

Photo by Kevin Serrano, staff photographer

Photo by Kevin Serrano, staff photographer

by Hannah Beausang

San Diego State students will be facing a $200 per semester tuition hike after the recent passing of the controversial Student Success Fee. The fee will start at $50 in the fall semester, and will be gradually implemented in the next four years until it reaches the full amount.

On March 3, President Elliot Hirshman recommended the fee to California State University Chancellor Timothy P. White, who provided his stamp of approval on March 7, according to U-T San Diego.

Ninety percent of the fee will be used for the addition of 80 new faculty members cumulatively and 360 course sections annually, while the other 10 percent will be allotted for general academic proposals.

Hirshman wrote a blog about the historical context of the fee and why its implementation will contribute to the university’s overall success. He cited flaws in the “Master Plan for  Higher Education in California: 1960-1975,” which called for state support for educational programs and funding for other services including housing and food coming from student fees. He said the plan fell short, creating a need for supplementary funding.

“Practical problems confronted this framework from the start, and they continue to this day,” Hirshman wrote. “Understanding these challenges provides perspectives that help us understand the role of tuition and fees at San Diego State today.”

He said motivation for the fee stems from the university’s limited resources. From 2007 and 2011, SDSU’s state appropriation fell from $221 million to $103 million, according to the blog. Since 2011, state funding has increased to $143 million, but is still 35 percent below its 2007 level.

Hirshman also mentioned a hardship fund to be created in collaboration with Associated Students to help students whose ability to enroll will be directly impacted by the fees.

The Office of Financial Aid and Scholarships will develop a “hardship exception” process, where non-state funds would be used to pay the fee for students for whom it would be an “undue hardship.”

The Division of Academic Affairs will gauge student feedback about academic and co-curricular needs to determine how the money will be spent.  The Campus Fee Advisory will devise guidelines for the academic proposals.

The fee was presented to students using an alternative consultation process with a series of forums organized by CFAC. Though no traditional voting process was utilized, students were given the opportunity to provide feedback about the fee after attending a forum.

There were 39 public forums from Feb. 3 through Feb. 21, with 1,251 attendees, according to CFAC. Of those, 1,015 students, or 3.5 percent of SDSU’s enrolled students, provided feedback.

According to CFAC data, 13 percent of students who gave feedback were in favor a $500 fee increase, 9 percent were in favor of a $400 fee increase, 16 percent were in favor of a $300 fee increase, 26 percent were in favor of a $200 increase, and 36 percent were in favor of no increase.

Photo by Kevin Serrano, staff photographer