Officials at California State University have received approval to hike tuition fees a total of 15 percent by fall 2011, sparking complaints and debate among students and university officials.
Effective Jan. 1, 2011, students will pay an additional 5 percent for each semester of study, bringing the total to $2,220 per semester, up from $2,115. In the fall semester, students will add another 10 percent on top of the five, for a total of $2,664.
"The unfortunate reality is when there's insufficient state support, that increases the burden on students," said Erik Fallis, a spokesman for the CSU system.
He said students generate one-third of university revenue, and the other two-thirds come from federal and state support.
"When the state is unable to provide that support, that only leaves the CSU with one other avenue," he said.
But students don't necessarily see tuition hikes as an effective means of supporting state universities.
According to a statement on the website of a student group, the California State Student Association, "Students pay more for college each year, but the cost has not resulted in improved classes, more course sections, better advising, or faster time to graduation."
Fallis said protesters of tuition hikes should note, "Half of our undergraduates do not pay tuition. It's covered by financial aid."
He said the financial aid that undergraduates receive is typically in the form of grants -- Pell Grants, State University Grants and Cal Grants -- that do not have to be paid back.
"Those three sources are not going to be impacted by the fee increase. They automatically adjust," Fallis said.