CSU budget gets major boost from Assembly, Senate

Months of hard work by CFA activists and students is paying off again this week as the Senate and the Assembly agreed to increase CSU funding and reopen the doors to thousands of Californians who were eligible but denied access to the People’s University.  

On Tuesday, members of the Assembly Budget Subcommittee 2 on Education Finance voted to increase funding for the CSU by an additional $307.8 million for the 2018-19 fiscal year.

There was more good news from the Senate Budget & Fiscal Review Subcommittee 1 on Education, which voted last week to approve increasing CSU funding by an additional $317.6 million.

Both budget proposals include $50 million in dedicated funds for tenure-track hiring, and a 3 percent enrollment growth, which would increase access to the CSU for 10,923 full-time-equivalent students.

“This is a great day for the CSU, and a testament to the power of our faculty and students, who have been fighting for this budget since January to improve the state’s reinvestment in our university system,” said CFA President Jennifer Eagan.

In January at the Capitol, CFA held a pop-up art installation of empty chairs signifying a need for enrollment growth. That event coincided with Gov. Jerry Brown’s release of his proposed budget, which called for just $92.1 million in additional funds for the CSU.

On April 4, more than 1,000 faculty, students, staff, and allies held a landmark event and rallied at the State Capitol, urging lawmakers and the governor to increase critical funding for the CSU.

And in recent weeks, activists have sent thousands of messages to lawmakers urging them to increase funding and end years of disinvestment by the state.

Lack of adequate funding has had dire impacts on the People’s University, including access for California’s qualified high school graduates and community college transfer students. Last year, more than 31,000 qualified students were denied a spot in the CSU. California’s Master Plan had promised them a place if they worked hard and got the grades, but still they were denied.

“The message they are receiving is that no matter how hard they work, they aren’t good enough. And for our students, who are increasingly students of color, low-income, and the first in their families to attend college, that is a devastating message. Our students and those seeking an education in the CSU deserve every opportunity that was given to those who came before them, when the majority of CSU students were white. Make no mistake—this is an issue of racial and social justice,” Eagan said.

“We are so appreciative of our champions in the Legislature, who understand the critical need to improve access to the CSU, and who believe in investing in the future leaders of our state.”

The CSU’s budget request asked for funds to increase enrollment by a meager 1%, but CFA has aggressively advocated for additional enrollment increases to meet the rising demand of California’s prospective students.

A recent California Budget & Policy Center analysis pointed out that between 7,000 and 8,000 of these qualified-but-denied student applicants were not found in any national college databases. The research also highlighted the state’s potential financial loss due to those students not getting degrees. California stands to lose $1.4 billion during those students’ working-lifetimes.