Not surprisingly, San Francisco State University students are scrambling to get into the few classes that remain in the wake of state budget cuts. California’s financial crisis has essentially bulldozed higher education across the state, and student learning is suffering because of it. Overcrowded classes are especially troublesome for seniors who need take that one class in order to finish their major and graduate this year.
Still Popular, But Crowded
San Francisco State University is one of the most popular and crowded campuses in the 23 campus CSU system. With budget cuts that seem never ending, tuition has risen steadily, as students and parents cut back again and again to pay for pulic education. At the current $6,422 a year tab, the cost of public education has gotten pretty high.
In spite of an ever shrinking budget and repeated tuition increases, some positive thinkers at the university seem genuinely surprised at how resilient students and faculty seem to be. Professor Michael Goldman, chairman of the SFSU biology department said, “I’m actually very surprised at how well we’re doing for students in view of the kinds of cuts we’ve seen. There’s been a conscious effort from the highest levels of administration to minimize the impact on students.”
Well, that view helps keep a optimistic eye on a situation that could be seen as worse, especially recognizing how far the university has fallen in just a few years, all due to the state’s financial troubles.
Within the last five years, while the number of classes offered and instructors to teach them have declined at the university, the number of students enrolled has stayed the same. Over 300 classes have been cut over that time period, or 8 percent; 61 tenured-track faculty, along with 216 lecturers, have been eliminated during that five year period, a 16 percent decline. Yet, at just under 30,000 students, this number remains about the same from then to now.
Looking at costs from 2009, San Francisco State has lost $8 million in state funding. Tuition increases have restored some of those lost dollars, and that route is how the system operates now. Higher tuition and mandatory fees lessen dramatic losses due to funding cuts. Students now pay 19 percent more than last year; they now are the go-to contingent to compensate for state financial woes passed on to public higher education.
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