CSU trustees consider fee hike

BERKELEY -- California State University trustees have tentatively approved a budget for next year that could mean higher student fees.

Trustees haven't taken a formal vote on fees and won't until next year. But a budget proposal for 2008-09 approved by the board's finance committee Tuesday includes the possibility of a fee hike unless the state provides more funding.

Leaders of the University of California system were scheduled to take a similar step today with consideration of a budget request that includes a potential fee hike unless there is extra funding.

As at CSU, UC leaders are not expected to formally vote on fees until next year.

University administrators will get a clearer picture of the funding outlook in January, when Gov. Schwarzenegger presents his budget to legislators.

However, early forecasts are that the state is facing a deficit of at least $6 billion.

CSU Chancellor Charles Reed said Tuesday that CSU's proposed budget is the responsible way to go.

"I only think it's fair for students to get early warning," he said.

The committee, whose actions were scheduled to go before the full board for ratification today, approved a proposed budget of about $4.7 billion.

The request includes $322.7 million more than last year, as laid out in a long-term agreement reached earlier with the governor. In addition, CSU is asking for $155.2 million above the agreed-on figure to pay for enrollment growth and other priorities.

The budget includes $73 million that could come out of extra state funding or through raising student fees about 10 percent.

Trustees said they will decide on fees no later than the March board meeting.

CSU, the nation's largest four-year system with 450,000 students, now charges undergraduates about $3,400 a year.

An increase would be highly unpopular since CSU fees have gone up steadily in recent years.