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CSU's proposed fees target 'super seniors,' course repeaters

Trustees with California State University will consider this week a tiered fee structure that would require students to pay extra if they repeat courses, enroll in 18 units or more per semester or are "super seniors," those who take too long to graduate.

Officials with the 400,000-student system said the added fees will encourage more students to complete their degrees, free up 18,000 enrollment spots a year, and generate an extra $30 million annually.

"It is critical that we provide additional opportunities for eligible students to be admitted to the CSU," said Ephraim P. Smith, the system's executive vice chancellor and chief academic officer. "These changes are meant to provide more access for incoming freshmen and transfer students by helping current students to graduate in a more timely manner."

Students now pay $5,472 annually. The tiered tuition system was unveiled at the CSU's September trustees meeting. Here is a breakdown of the proposed tuition and fee increases:

Graduation incentive fee: Most degrees mandate that students complete 120 units in required coursework. About 6 percent of seniors are "super seniors," students who have completed at least 150 units of coursework.

Beginning in fall 2013, students who have earned 160 semester units would pay an extra $372 per unit. The threshold would be reduced to 150 units in fall 2014.

Course repeat fee: CSU estimates 1 in 10 students enrolled in each class is repeating the course. As part of the proposed plan, students who repeat a course would pay an extra $100 per unit starting fall 2013.

Third-tier fee: Most students enroll in 12 units per semester. The CSU bases its annual tuition on this average, with students enrolling in six or fewer units are considered part-time. Next fall, students enrolled in 18 units or more per semester would pay an extra $200 for each additional unit. Student tuition at the nation's largest four-year university system was just reduced by $249 per semester following the passage of Proposition 30 last week.

Students for Quality Education, an advocacy group of students from across the system's 23 campuses created after a string of tuition increases, have come out against the proposed fee increases. The group said the fee increases would prevent even more students from graduating on time, and discourage students who want to graduate early from taking on extra workloads.

"The main reason these students are taking longer to graduate is because the system has cut so many courses and other services over the past few years," said Kevin Nguyen, a five-year senior at Cal State Fullerton.

Trustees are scheduled to vote on the tiered tuition proposal Wednesday.

Contact the writer: 714-796-2258 or

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