The California State University Board of Trustees Tuesday boosted tuition 12 percent for this fall and approved a roughly $400,000 pay package for San Diego State's new president.
Trustees insisted the tuition hike is needed to make up for cuts in state funding.
"The enormous reduction to our state funding has left us with no other choice if we are to maintain quality and access to the CSU," Chancellor Charles B. Reed said. "We will focus on serving our current students by offering as many classes and course sections as possible.
"We will also be able to open enrollment for the spring 2012 term, which is critical for our community college transfer students," he said.
The 12 percent hike will add $294 to the one-semester cost of attending a CSU school, beginning in the fall. The increase means a full-time undergrad will pay $5,472 per year, with campus fees expected to bring the total cost to about $6,422.
"Wow, it's going to really impact us as students because, I mean, it's already expensive, ridiculously expensive," said Evelyn Echegaray, who majors in women's studies at SDSU.
Like many other students, Echegaray said she thinks the tuition hike is balancing the state's budget on the backs of the younger generation.
According to CSU, the recently adopted state budget cut funding to the university system by a total of about $650 million. Funding for 23-campus university system could be reduced another $100 million in December if state revenues fall short of projections, CSU officials said.
Compensation for SDSU President Elliot Hirshman was approved on a 12-3 vote of the trustees despite a letter of opposition from Gov. Jerry Brown, and comments against the package by Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, who serves as a trustee.
Hirshman, who took over for Stephen Weber July 5, will get a salary of $350,000, plus university housing and a $1,000-per-month car allowance. He will also receive $50,000 per year from the university's foundation.
Brown sent the board chairman, Herbert Carter, a letter criticizing the "ever-escalating pay packages" given to top CSU administrators.
"I fear your approach to compensation is setting a pattern for public service that we cannot afford," Brown wrote.
The governor said it is not right to raise administrator salaries when public school teachers are being let go and senior centers are closing.
Hirshman's pay would be well above the nearly $300,000 former SDSU President Stephen Weber was paid annual and just below Cal State Chancellor Charles Reed's salary of $421,500.
Student Jesus Anaya told 10News he was angry over the tuition hike and claimed paying for school without the benefit of financial aid is already a struggle. He was even more frustrated to learn Hirshman's salary package.
"So we're basically paying for him. I mean, he's getting a raise while we have to pay more for our tuition. That's not helping at all," said Anaya.
"It leaves a bad taste in my mouth," said Stephen Ordway, a student who was trying to sign up for the classes he needs to graduate. "I really don't know much about this new president, but for him to make that much money and never been a president before? It doesn't seem right. We could really use that money for our classes."
The median total compensation for public college presidents in 2009-10 was $375,442, according to the Chronicle of Higher Education.
Newsom, who cast one of the dissenting votes, warned his fellow trustees that the combined tuition increase and salary hike will make for rough newspaper headlines.
"What feels good here, and feels responsible here, doesn't necessarily translate around the state," he said.
Trustee Peter Mehas, however, said he would not apologize for Hirshman's pay.
"We cannot pay enough for quality leadership," Mehas said.
Students on financial aid will not have to pay for the tuition hike, according to Ethan Singer, associate vice president for Academic Affairs. Singer said more than a third of San Diego state students get some form of financial aid.
Singer also said this is the first year in which student fee revenue will be a greater portion of the university's budget than the general fund.
Even with the tuition hike, Singer said San Diego State students pay "significantly less" than the national average.
"It's still a terrific buy," he said.
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