May 17, 2004 Vol. VIII, No. 17

Governor, Universities Reach Accord on Education 'Compact'

Proposal Will Give Systems Ability to Plan, Manage Resources for Students, Campuses

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, California State University Chancellor Charles B. Reed and University of California President Robert Dynes reached agreement last week on a six-year "compact" that will help ensure quality, access and affordability at the nation's top public university systems.

"The coming year promises to be a tight one for the university's budget, and future challenges lie ahead," said Northridge President Jolene Koester. "But at last, we now see the renewed promise of state financial support and commitment to our mission of educating students and serving our community."

General Fund Increase

Recognizing the overwhelming demand for student access, the higher education compact proposes a 3 percent state general fund increase for the CSU in 2005/06 and 2006/07. From 2007/08 through 2010/11, the state will provide an increase of 4 percent to the prior year's base budget for basic needs including salary increases, health benefits, maintenance and inflation.

In addition, the governor has committed to another 1 percent increase in the CSU budget in 2008/09, 2009/10 and 2010/11, to address annual budgetary shortfalls in state funding for other instruction and research support such as instructional equipment, instructional technology, libraries and building maintenance.

Still, campus officials agree, the compact does not solve all of CSUN's budget challenges. Though Gov. Schwarzenegger has committed to limit CSU 2004/05 budget cuts to the $240 million (9 percent) level he proposed in January, those cuts alone will leave Northridge with a projected $15.6 million general fund budget shortfall that must be addressed. Without significant structural changes to the CSUN budget, some level of that shortfall is expected to persist in future years.

Reduced Enrollment Target

Due to the budget cuts, Northridge has been given a reduced student enrollment target for the coming academic year, down 5 percent to 23,172 full-time equivalent students. The cuts will require divisions to tighten their budgets, in addition to which the campus will rely on available one-time funds to minimize the impact on its programs.

Such approaches, together with a continuation of the university's conservative fiscal policies, should enable the campus to maintain its tenure/tenure-track faculty and permanent staff in 2004/05. The Educational Opportunity Program and outreach efforts also are expected to be preserved.

Intended to provide educational opportunities for an additional 8,000 CSU students per year, the compact will help the system stem student enrollment decreases caused by the state's fiscal crisis.

By providing fiscal stability in the initial two years of the compact, the state will prevent further erosion of support for higher education. Funding commitments in the third year and beyond reflect the governor's belief that the state will experience moderate economic growth. This will allow the CSU some recovery, such as improving salaries and addressing under-funded core programs.

In exchange for the commitment of funds, the CSU will make annual reports on a series of accountability measures to the governor, the secretary of education, fiscal committees of the Legislature, the Legislative Analyst's Office and the Department of Finance.

The compact proposes a three-year level of fee increases for undergraduate students. In 2004/05, student fees will increase 14 percent, and in 2005/06 and 2006/07, they will increase 8 percent each year.

For the years 2007/08 to 2010/11, the governor has recommended that any fee increases be tied to an annual California per capita personal income. However, he has agreed the CSU trustees can exceed that number if fiscal circumstances warrant, but not above 10 percent in any given year. CSU graduate fees—in contrast to a 40 percent across the board hike originally proposed by the governor for the 2004/05 budget—will increase by 25 percent in 2004/05. Teacher credential candidate fees will increase by 20 percent. For the following two years, graduate fees are expected to increase by no less than 10 percent.

A vote on the 2004/05 annual fee increases is expected at the May 19 meeting of the CSU trustees. If approved, annual undergraduate fees would increase by $288 (14 percent), qualified credential program participants by $450 (20 percent) and all other post-baccalaureate and graduate students by $564 (25 percent). One fifth of the revenue from these fee increases will be set aside for State University Grant financial aid.

The Schwarzenegger administration expects CSU graduate student fees eventually to be 50 percent higher than undergraduate fees in recognition of the costs of graduate programs and the expected higher salaries of students with advanced degrees.

CSU currently enrolls about 410,000 students but will decrease enrollment by up to 5 percent in 2004/05 (a non-compact year) because of cuts proposed in the governor's January budget.

@csun | May 17, 2004 issue
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