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More fees at California's state universities

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Additional fees are being tacked onto the bill at California State Universities. The cost of tuition used to cover just about everything except books, food and housing at California's state universities. That is changing.

A new fee, dubbed a "student success fee" is already in place at some of the CSU campuses--East Bay, Long Beach, Los Angeles, Northridge, Pomona, San Bernardino, San Jose, San Luis Obispo and San Marcos. What the fee specifically covers and the legality of the this new "fee" is unclear.

The CSU system pledged not to raise tuition. They took a pretty bad beating on campuses and in the press not long ago when the salaries and perks of the top administrators at the Universities was disclosed.

After a round of attempting to justify the inflated salaries, which didn't go over well with students, teachers, or legislators, the pledge was made to freeze tuition costs in return for increased funding.

The increased funding has already taken place. The Board of Trustees now says that they have to make up for the years when they didn't get increases in funding.

Since 2006, tuition increases, coupled with fee increases, at Cal State Universities increased by 91%. University of California tuition and fees increased by 75%.

The fees that are in place cover such things as the student health centers, sports fees, parking fees, and have been in place for a very long time.

The student success fees range from $200 to over $800 per year. The cost of attending CSU schools, with tuition and other costs, can hit $25,000 for the year in more expensive locations in the state.

There doesn't seem to be any end to how much money a University is able to spend. It simply continues upwards, no matter what.

The new fee is seen by many as a thinly veiled attempt to circumvent the tuition freeze. It's a way to raise more money while saying that tuition hasn't actually been raised.

There is a precedent for tacking on a fee which doesn't require any kind of vote, whether it's a tax in disguise or a tuition raise in disguise.

In July of 2011, the Governor signed Assembly Bill X1 29, the "State Responsibility Area Fire Prevention Benefit Fee". The law approved the new annual Fire Prevention Fee to pay for fire prevention services within the SRA. The fee is applied to all habitable structures within the SRA.

Since it was called a fee and not a tax, there was no public vote on it. It is extremely doubtful that such a tax would have survived a public vote. The fight to get rid of the "fee" is on going.

Since this tactic worked, the precedent was set. How this student success fee will fare is unknown. The fight against it, and for it, has just begun, and should prove to be rather interesting.

How this will play out throughout the U.S. also isn't clear. It's a good bet that other states are keeping up with the entire process.

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