At this week’s California State University Board of Trustees meeting, the trustees will review an agenda item that will inform them of the CSU’s intention to change the terminology used to refer to certain charges assessed to students from “fees” to “tuition.”
“The change in terminology from ‘fees’ to ‘tuition’ will allow us to more accurately define the expenses charged to students, while eliminating confusion and improving our efficiencies in regards to financial aid,” said Benjamin J. Quillian, CSU executive vice chancellor for business and finance. “This will not impact students, but they should be aware that this change will be reflected on CSU websites and in the communications they receive from campuses.”
The concept of “tuition-free” education for California residents dates back to the founding of the University of California in 1868. However, the Master Plan, which established the California State University and mandates the current system of higher education in the state, defines tuition as “student charges for teaching expenses” and fees as “charges to students, either collectively or individually for services not directly related to instruction.”
The use of the term “fee” has also caused significant issues for federal financial aid assistance programs that are based on the amount of “tuition” charged to resident students. Because the CSU does not charge “tuition,” in 2009 GI Bill payments to CSU student veterans were threatened due to this issue.
As it is no longer accurate to claim that the CSU is “tuition-free,” the term “tuition” will now be used to refer to revenue which supports the basic needs of academic programs, student services, student financial aid, libraries, technology and other areas of institutional support as well as the maintenance of instructional facilities. The CSU will continue to use the term “fee” for those special charges that support health services, student government and student unions among other areas.
Prior to the end of 2010, the CSU Chancellor’s Office will issue an executive order providing policy direction to campuses regarding modified rules and guidelines affected by this change in terminology. To access the agenda item that the trustees will review, click here.