Prop. 30 to benefit students with tuition rollback, rebate
As a student who uses federal and state loans to pay for his education, Aaron Fisher tracked the passage of Proposition 30 throughout election night.
“Prop. 30 was a ‘pass or doomsday’ proposition for me,” Fisher, a political science major at SF State, said. “I’m glad that the (California State University) base tuition will not rise dramatically again, but it is really the symbolism that is why Prop. 30’s passage is astonishing. This is the beginning.”
Fisher uses his Federal Pell Grant, along with working up to 20 hours a week, to make college an affordable option. He funds his own rent, insurance and food.
“Interest rates are low enough and with income-based repayment (plans), I will be able to pay off my 20 some-odd grand in student loans without breaking my budget post-college,” the 20-year-old said. “It is important to take note that the proposition will help fund the CSU system but not exclusively, so it is important to remember that the system isn’t out of the woods and individuals shouldn’t stop saving and investing their money just because of this.”
With passage of Prop. 30, tuition will rollback to 2011-12 levels and students will receive a $249 rebate for tuition, according to the CSU system.
The proposition will raise about $6.8 billion in additional tax revenue, according to the Legislative Analysts Office. The proposition will also raise income taxes on Californians earning more than $250,000 a year and increase sales tax by 0.25 percent for a period of seven years.
“We are still $1 billion short,” CSU spokesman Erik Fallis said. “The students, however, won’t face a tuition increase again, but CSU is working on a plan to get students more efficiently through the University.”
According to Fallis, the California Budget Act for 2012-13 was written in a way that assumed revenue from Prop. 30. Without that revenue, the budget provided for some specific trigger cuts, including $250 million in cuts to the CSU.
“Those cuts have been avoided,” Fallis said. “The CSU is hopeful that avoiding these cuts are a step toward the state reinvesting in higher education.”
He said that campuses will distribute money back to students through refund, credit or readjustment of financial aid.
Wei Ming Dariotis, president of the SF State chapter of the California Faculty Association, feels relieved and gratified by the passage of Prop. 30.
“The state of California is indeed willing to fund higher education and to push back against the forces that would try to de-educate our population and to make our population one that is focused on getting jobs,” Dariotis said. “Rather, we are focused on making sure that folks have an education that is going to serve them and the state. In the future, most jobs are going to require some form of higher education and this is really showing that the state of California is willing to put in the effort to make sure that we have a well-educated population.”
University President Leslie E. Wong believes that both the UC and CSU systems will benefit from Prop. 30.
“This means that CSU will not incur a budget cut of $250 million and our share of that cut would have been $17.4 million,” he said. “However, we will have to refund the 9.1 percent tuition increase that students paid in Fall 2012, and will not be collecting that in Spring 2013. We have prioritized the importance of the curriculum so we are looking to relieve some of the stress over course availability in a number of majors by hiring faculty. That is, some students are having a very difficult time graduating in time because they cannot get courses required in their major.”
Wong also said that access and affordability are top priorities and that the tuition rebate provides some relief, but does not solve the problem.
“Structural deficits resulting from prior budget cuts still exist. I don’t know if tuition will go down or up,” he said. “We are doing our best to help students for example by hiring more faculty, raising money for scholarships and continuing to seek efficiencies which reduce our costs.”
Jocelyn Polanco of SF State’s Students for Quality Education sees the success of Prop. 30 as a win for all the sectors of public education in California.
“However, it is a small victory in the bigger picture toward an affordable, accessible and quality education in the CSU,” Polanco said. “The Board of Trustees approved a ($249) reimbursement to students if Prop. 30 passed that would either be refunded, credited or received in the form a revised financial aid package. For the first time in the past decade of rising tuition we are seeing a reversal on fees even if only for this academic year.”
Polanco said that the revenue, raised by Prop. 30 will be audited every year and will be open to the public to ensure that the money is being put into education.
“The Board of Trustees planned on increasing tuition by 5 percent, or $150, in the spring if Prop. 30 did not pass,” she said. “If it is decided that the Board of Trustees want to raise tuition next semester, we will not keep quiet about it as we know students simply cannot afford any more tuition hikes.”