warning Hi, we've moved to USCANNENBERGMEDIA.COM. Visit us there!

Neon Tommy - Annenberg digital news

After Budget Cuts, Hope For The California State University System

Kristen Villarreal |
October 6, 2010 | 6:02 p.m. PDT

Staff Reporter

(Creative Commons)
(Creative Commons)

Albert Cardenas, a history major at California State University, Los Angeles, had finally found a class that allowed more than 100 students to register. He quickly grabbed a spot in the philosophy class, only to spend most of the semester in a crowded classroom, with classmates sitting and standing in the back of the room because there weren't enough seats.

Students at CSULA, and at the other CSU schools, have been in a race the last few semesters to register for the classes they need before they fill to capacity. The number of classes offered has been reduced because of budget cuts and some students are finding it difficult to complete their degree requirements in the standard four years.  

The rush for spots in overcrowded classes is starting to affect the atmosphere at the schools, and students' attitudes.

"It has become a sad reality when everyone is eager to graduate," Cardenas said. "It's as if we're all trying to serve our time and get out of prison, just to deal with the next problem."

Cardenas is one of many across the CSU system who has experienced first-hand the results of higher education budget cuts. 

Paulina Celaya recalls the trouble she experienced in registering for her last required general education course.

According to Celaya, some classes were only offered in the summer quarter, which was extremely expensive to attend. Students who needed to take one of these classes to graduate or advance in grade level as they wanted were basically forced to pay for that summer quarter.  

Celaya knows of classmates who were forced to take out loans for portions of tuition or housing that their financial aid awards did not cover. She even has one friend who could no longer afford housing and eventually made the decision to move back home to San Jose.  

Cardenas was having similar problems. After feelings of depression and confusion, Cardenas hit the point where he realized he needed to do something to fight for his educational rights. Cardenas organized with the CSULA No Cuts Coalition, a student group on campus that is open to anyone willing to fight educational budget cuts.  

After the major protests on March 4 earlier this year, California activists have proposed October 7 as the next "National Day of Action to Defend Education."

CSULA students will gather Thursday at 2:30 in front of the LAUSD Building in downtown LA and march to the rally point in front of the Los Angeles Central Library.

Under Governor Schwarzenegger’s proposed budget, the CSU system would get $366 million more than last year to restore funding that was cut and expand enrollment.

Last year, the CSU system experienced a $500 million cut. CSULA specifically had a budget cut of $29.5 million leading the University to compensate the loss with faculty furloughs and student fee increases. Student fees this semester were increased $204 for undergraduates, $234 dollars for students enrolled in various credential programs and $252 for graduate students.

Last year, the CSU system did not accept student applications for the 2010 spring term as a direct result of the major budget cuts, forcing students to put off educational plans to the fall semester. As a result, CSU saw a record number of applicants and an increased demand in admission for fall 2010. For the winter/spring 2011 terms, up to 30,000 new students will be admitted across the system.  

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act will provide $106 million to begin a limited admission of new students and to start restoring course sections and student services for the 2011 winter and spring terms. This will allocate about $5,258,800 to CSULA to fund the admittance of 366 new students. More than 187,000 students out of a total 433,000 in the CSU system will pay no fee increase due to an increased number of state grants, CSU fee waivers and expanded federal tax credit, according to Paul Browning, CSULA’s Media Relations Director.

“We are hoping the governor’s commitment to education stays in the budget when it is signed,” Browning said.

After experiencing more than two years of budget and service cuts, students of the CSU system are hoping their fight to defend education is coming closer to an end.   

Reach Staff Reporter Kristen Villarreal here.

Sign up for Neon Tommy's weekly e-mail newsletter.



Craig Gillespie directed this true story about "the most daring rescue mission in the history of the U.S. Coast Guard.”

Watch USC Annenberg Media's live State of the Union recap and analysis here.