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Proposed Campus Fee Adjustments

Student Learning Fee Adjustment

Introduction

Over a number of years, Chico State’s budgetary capacity to fund classroom, laboratory, field, and pre-professional student opportunities has steadily eroded.  We anticipate little let-up from this trend.  As a result, we are hard pressed to maintain and upgrade existing hands-on and technology-enabled experiences. Our students do not have access to the high-quality laboratory, studio, library, software, and other resources that they need in order to be competitive in their careers. Funding for such valuable services as tutoring and supplemental instruction, field trips, and student competitions have similarly diminished.  Students, faculty and staff are feeling this challenge as we try to preserve the quality of a Chico State education that includes hands-on, experiential experiences inside and outside the classroom.

Students have helped to support these needs.  In June of 2010, the CSU authorized the establishment of a Student Learning Fee (SLF) to support student learning. The initial fee was $46 per academic year, and it increased by $8 per year.  The annual fee today, in the 2017-18 academic year, is $76.  Thirty-three percent of the SLF is set aside for financial aid.  For this year, we anticipate about $865,000 in available SLF funds and $426,000 set aside for financial aid.

Challenges

A review of recent spending of SLF funds demonstrates our growing challenge in meeting classroom, laboratory and co-curricular needs that prepare students for the demands of today’s professions and disciplines. Unmet SLF need (e.g. requested vs. funded) has been growing, from $1 million in 2014-15 to $1.84 million in 2016-17. We expect the unmet need in 2017-18 to be near $2.4 million. These requests are critical to maintaining and upgrading experiential experiences and supporting student success. For example, in the current academic year, SLF funds are providing:

  • A large centrifuge to support the study of DNA by over 1000 students enrolled in 14 different biology courses.
  • An aquaponics production unit to engage students from 13 different courses in agriculture, biology, plant science, and mechanical engineering in learning about nutrient cycling, plant and fish growth, environmental control, quality management, and marketing.
  • Educational travel for political science and criminal justice students participating in the Community Legal Information Center to broaden their knowledge, outreach, and networks.
  • Development of remote observation equipment and space in the Associated Students Child Development Laboratory, which allows majors in child development to observe children without influencing their behaviors.
  • Additional free tutoring services offered through the College of Business Student Success Center.
  • Student leaders to support the production of the Chico Great Debate.
  • A Maker Space at the Meriam Library to support entrepreneurial projects from students across campus

The need to support state-of-the-practice student experiences continues to grow, driven by rapid and progressive changes in technology and knowledge.  A sufficiently resourced and responsibility managed environment will help to prepare our students for the opportunities and challenges of tomorrow.

Proposal

In order to make progress towards improving our students’ experiential learning and related support services, we are requesting an increase of $80 per year per student to the existing Student Learning Fee.  If approved, the 2018-19 annual SLF would be $156.  The other conditions – the $8 fee increase per year and the 33% financial aid set-aside – are proposed to remain the same as the original 2010 SLF authorization, with an extension to the 2022-23 academic year.  We estimate that the increased fee will generate about $2.24 million in available SLF in 2018-19, which more closely approaches estimated need.