Common Student Questions About the Strike
Students have questions—we have answers!

Q: What do CSU faculty members get paid?

A: The average CSU faculty member earns $45,000 per year. More than 50% earn less than $38,000 per year. Even if all faculty were working on full-time contracts, the average salary for CSU faculty would only have been $63,000 in fall 2014. [1]

Q: Why isn’t that enough? It’s more than I make.

A: CSU salaries would be decent starting salaries for someone with a college degree and no experience, but are shockingly low for professional work requiring graduate degrees and many years of work experience. This chart shows the average salaries in California for other jobs, none of which requires an advanced degree. [2]

Firefighter                  $125,000
Police Officer               $97,500
Nurse                           $87,480
Car sales rep               $79,000
Accountant                  $75,870
K-12 Teacher               $73,396
Truck Driver                 $55,000

Q: Won’t my tuition go up even more if the CSU agrees to raise faculty salaries by 5%?

A: This year the CSU received a budget increase from the state of $216 million, more than enough to fund a 5% raise for faculty without increasing student fees. Even so, in good times and bad, when state funding was up and when it was down, when tuition was raised and when it wasn’t, expenditures on faculty salaries have remained essentially flat.

Student fees have risen dramatically (over 134%) over the past 10 years.  But the CSU has used these student fees primarily for facilities, technology, and presidents’ salaries, not instruction. Between 2004 and 2014, the average campus president’s salary went up 36%, from $219,000 to $314,000. The average faculty salary rose only about 10%, far less than the average cost of living, and most of that increase was between 2004 and 2006—faculty have not received a significant general salary increase over the last 10 years. [3] 

Instead of using student fees to improve instruction, the CSU has cut its per capita investment in instruction. That means you are paying more but getting less. [4]

Q: If faculty go on strike, will I still graduate on time?

A: If you are scheduled to graduate this semester, and you pass your courses, the strike will not prevent you from graduating.  This strike has been planned at a time that will impact students as little as possible, and faculty members will not penalize students for missing classes that have to be cancelled as a result of the strike.  We want you to succeed.  Of course, we expect you to keep up with readings and coursework!

Q: Why strike now?

A: The faculty have waited patiently for years for promised raises that never came. Raises due to be paid in 2008 were cancelled because of the recession. Wages temporarily fell by 9.3% in 2009 because of faculty furloughs. Tiny cost of living increases in 2013 and 2014 (less than 1.5% each) fell far short of actual cost of living increases (the real cost of living rose 15% from 2007 to 2016).  In reality, then, faculty are not asking for a raise, but simply a recovery of what we have lost.

Although the economy has recovered, the CSU has offered a raise of only 2%. K-12 teachers, UC faculty members, and community college faculty members are being offered raises of 5-6% to help recover lost earning power.  CSU faculty have waited too long for too little and deserve to be paid for the real value that they bring to California’s students.

Q: Where should I write to complain?

A: Email the Office of the Chancellor at, or call the office at (562) 951-4738.

Suggested message: “My name is _______, I am a Cal State student, and I want Chancellor White to know that my professors need a 5% raise. The CSU has the money.  It is a matter of priorities.  I cannot get the education I deserve unless my teachers are paid what they deserve.”

To get more involved, contact Students for a Quality Education at

[1] CFA “Race to the Bottom: CSU’s 10 Year Failure to Fund its Core Mission,” p.3. Please do explain to students what faculty members do with their time!  Students often do not understand that course preparation, grading, administrative and committee work, and research projects require most of us to work in the evenings and on weekends.
[2] CFA “Race to the Bottom: CSU’s 10 Year Failure…,” p.3 and footnote 6.
[3] The graph on page 5 of  CFA “Race to the Bottom:  CSU’s 10 Year Failure to Fund Its Core Mission,” illustrates these shifts.  Faculty raises have been far lower than the increase in the cost of living, which was about 26% between 2004 and 2016. CSU faculty raises averaged about 12% during that period.
[4] For more information, see CFA “Race to the Bottom: The Price Students Pay.”