Tuition increase stirs controversy at Student Fee Advisory Committee meeting

Jacquelyn Moreno

The Student Fee Advisory Committee (SFAC) facilitated a conversation between students and members of the administration on Tuesday. The meeting was held via Zoom and had over 100 attendees. It commenced with students expressing their disappointment toward issues such as tuition increases and ended without answers for many of their concerns.

Kaylah Breiz, an incoming fourth-year SF State student, voiced her consideration for the well being of student workers and their overall financial support.

“We as students demand that the school find more innovative ways to lower our tuition and eliminate student fees while still protecting our student jobs,” Breiz said.

Associate Vice President for Student Affairs Eugene Chelberg, who oversees the student health service and guides the Student Health Advisory Committee, explained to the conclave that most student-related services will go online for the fall semester. Services that typically require face-to-face interaction, such as student counseling, will be conducted remotely on an appointment basis.

“The services and products that we need to be able to operate the various units… we did include that as part of the proposal that was approved last spring,” Chelberg said. “So, the fee itself right now is $157 a semester. In the fall, it’s slated to increase to $207 a semester. So that’s $60.”

The student health fee was last increased in 2015 according to the Student Health Counseling Services and Student Health Advisory Committee.

Students disagreed with these increases, but Chelberg insisted on their importance.

“It’s a lot, but it’s because we hadn’t increased it for so long. And also, if we wanted to do anything new that students wanted us to do, we needed to have some dollars available to do that as well,” said Chelburg.

Alondra Esquivel Garcia, vice president of external affairs, suggested students do their own research of reading into their tuition fees and audit.

“I know that there is fear that independently, institutions can lower their own student fees, and then other students from other campuses will catch on and demand their institution to lower these fees. But I still think it’s really important that we have these conversations, especially with the state audit that came out on student fees,” Garcia said.

Garcia encouraged other students to become aware of the data used to re-evaluate their fees and overall tuition. Garcia says it is important for students to re-familiarize themselves with what to expect.

“So for an example, with the material service and facilities fees that we administered for students, we charge students roughly around $696. But, the average is $173. So it’s like, why is that? Why are we paying?” Garcia said.

John Gates, interim associate vice president and finance vice president, said Gator Passes, which previously afforded students unlimited Muni rides and a 50% discount for BART via a $180 semester fee, would be reduced within a $5- $10.

Students asked if there would be an option to opt out if they would not be using public transportation. Gates stated the fee could be reduced to $0 if approved, however the prospect of that looks grim.

“Muni won’t allow that– that’s in their contract terms. It’s this kind of an all-or-nothing kind of thing. So we could decide not to charge the students anything and pay Muni, but they’re not going to allow students to opt out,” Gates said.

SFAC offered students a Google Doc doc for the unanswered questions that students had and would follow up on these issues.