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I graduated from San Francisco State University with a BA in Cinema Studies in May 2002 and remember vividly that I had to pay for tuition and housing, as well as graduation memorabilia and gowns.

However, if there's one thing I remember, I was NEVER charged a dime for graduating.  Not even a penny.

Then again, nothing surprises me anymore with these California State Universities.  Unlike other universities such as New York University (NYU) where my best friend (a graduate of Tisch's School of the Arts program) can still keep their school e-mail addresses.  Unfortunately, if you graduate from a CSU like San Francisco State or Sonoma State University, you cannot keep your old e-mail addresses.  Always thought that annoyed me.

Of course, it now costs an arm and a leg to enroll in classes and it's even more expensive to live on campus.  I used to live at the Village at Centennial Square with less than $900 a month for my room.  Nowadays, the costs have skyrocketed:

Oh and yes, it takes DAYS for you to even get a copy of your transcript and you cannot get it delivered in rush delivery or next day delivery.  Apparently the school doesn't have enough cash or manpower to do that, let alone even provide PDFs of transcripts.

Then of course once you graduate, after a six or eight month grace period, you have to be charged a yearly fee in order to access the career center, even though you are an alumni.

Now you have to be charged to graduate!

After scrimping, borrowing and sacrificing for years to pay for college, graduating seniors are finally preparing to celebrate. But at many California public universities, you don't just pay to get in. You pay to get out.

At Cal State East Bay, there's a $49 fee to graduate. At San Francisco State, it's $100 -- $60 more than it was two years ago. Across the state, 15 of Cal State's 23 campuses charge a graduation fee -- a long-standing and once-little-noticed tack-on that is raising students' anger. This year's graduates have absorbed tuition fee hikes nearly every year since they stepped foot on campus, and now they are discovering even the diploma isn't always included in the tab.

"There is a fee for everything," said Natalia Aldana, a Cal State East Bay communications major and journalist who graduates in June. "I think it's really unfortunate that they have to charge students for everything they do, including graduation."

Even before they are declared degree-worthy, most Cal State students must pass a writing exam -- with an additional fee of up to $38. UC Berkeley graduates don't pay a separate fee to graduate, but commencement tickets cost $10 a head -- even for graduates themselves. At San Jose State, some students recently learned they'd have to pay $75 to be honored in their department's own celebration.

"We already have to pay to be here, and we've got to pay to leave," said Donnisha Udookon, a Cal State East Bay
criminal justice and sociology major from Los Angeles.

Todd Brown, a Cal State East Bay business management major from Antioch, paid his school's graduation fee -- then discovered he was one class shy of meeting his requirements and had to pay it again.

Here's what the Legislative Analyst's Office says:
Turns out, the fees are so obscure that even Judy Heiman, an analyst in the Legislative Analyst's Office who specializes in higher education, hadn't heard of them.

"I do wonder why they chose to do it that way," she said.

Now get this coming from the a spokesman from Cal State:
Cal State spokesman Mike Uhlenkamp pointed to the state's Master Plan for Higher Education, a half-century-old law that has resulted in a complicated system of fees. The so-called "tuition fee" can only be used for instruction costs, he said, so campuses must find the money elsewhere.
Whatever the "spokesman" Mike Uhlenkamp says, let me put it plainly:  I NEVER as a 2002 graduate of SFSU got charged to graduate.  EVER.  So now you're telling students that there's a half-century-old-law that has resulted in a complicated system of fees?

Please stop giving excuses and just scrap this graduation fee.  It's bad enough that universities are making the stupid decisions of raising fees on students and cutting classes and complaining at the same time, "We're hurting for cash."

This is why I'm glad I'm pursuing my graduate degree in business at the private university system.  The CSU system really seems to have its head twisted on backwards.

If you want to vent and protest, here's the following contact information:

California State University
Office of the Chancellor
401 Golden Shore
Long Beach, CA 90802-4210
Phone:  (562) 951-4000


Are you or any of your sons or daughters going to attend a CSU?

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| 11 votes | Vote | Results

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Comment Preferences

  •  Fee is just another name for a tax... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    but with fees you can target them. Taxes are bad fees are part of the cost of doing business, right?

    I sing praises in the church of nonsense, but in my heart I'm still an atheist, demanding sense of all things.

    by jbou on Tue May 14, 2013 at 03:30:38 PM PDT

  •  Welcome to Texas ca 1993 or so :( (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    That being said, I could have walked the stage at U. London for free, if I had paid a ruinous amount to rent the proper gown. I couldn't afford it, so they sent my diploma on...a cheap copy on A4 paper, not even an effing gold seal sticker. What a swiz.

    You..ought to be out raising hell. This is the fighting age. Put on your fighting clothes. -Mother Jones

    by northsylvania on Tue May 14, 2013 at 03:39:31 PM PDT

  •  Most universities do that (4+ / 0-)

    last time I checked.  Some call it a "graduation fee," others a "transcript fee," others . . . etc.

    Dogs from the street can have all the desirable qualities that one could want from pet dogs. Most adopted stray dogs are usually humble and exceptionally faithful to their owners as if they are grateful for this kindness. -- H.M. Bhumibol Adulyadej

    by corvo on Tue May 14, 2013 at 03:59:36 PM PDT

  •  I graduated years ago (5+ / 0-)

    and I'm pretty positive there was a fee (I think it was $48) to graduate. Someone had to go through and confirm that you had actually completed all your requirements. I recall this because I had to attach a petition for a waiver for a certain class.

    My transcripts have always taken for freaking ever to obtain. I can get unofficial transcripts pretty fast. But official ones always take a long time. Think I'm kidding? I have a set of official transcripts that I obtained for a job.  But I ended up taking another job.  Anyhow, I've carried that sealed (with the university seal) envelope from house to house as I've moved over 15 years. It has about 2000 miles on it because it's SUCH a hassle to get my transcripts. My husband once saw it in my files and went to open it. "DON'T OPEN THAT ENVELOPE!" I blurted out at him.

    Access to the career center was similarly limited when I graduated a couple decades ago.

    I'm not sure why all of this is news. Maybe it's just news to you. Or maybe SFSU has had a slush fund that other schools haven't had, and it's finally falling in line with its sister schools.

    Fees have always been how universities in the CSU system works. Your quote explains it all:

    Mike Uhlenkamp pointed to the state's Master Plan for Higher Education, a half-century-old law that has resulted in a complicated system of fees. The so-called "tuition fee" can only be used for instruction costs, he said, so campuses must find the money elsewhere.
    Fees have exceeded "tuition" as long as I've been around.

    NYU is a private university, yes? It doesn't have this sort of strange state law (or any state law) that it has to comply with when it comes to tuition.  You're not just comparing apples to oranges; you're comparing apples to brussles sprouts.

    There are huge problems with how California funds its state colleges and universities. But picking out one or two fees (or turn-around times) seems rather unusual to me.

    We have to fix California. Food scarcity in Central Valley is the highest in the nation. Ever-increasing tuition and fees at our universities are making it hard for them to fulfill their charters. Our schools aren't fulfilling their roles in the community. Drive down I-5 lately? It feels like it hasn't been paved in 20 years when you drive through Stockton and LA.  We have lots of problems here.

    But honestly, the issues you've raised here are nothing new. I'm sorry if it's shocking to you, current students or recent graduates, but we've been doing this for years.

    © grover

    So if you get hit by a bus tonight, would you be satisfied with how you spent today, your last day on earth? Live like tomorrow is never guaranteed, because it's not. -- Me.

    by grover on Tue May 14, 2013 at 04:01:42 PM PDT

  •  I think your real beef is with the legislature (7+ / 0-)

    The CSU officials are just trying to keep the doors open however they can in the face of substantial funding cuts and increasing demand.

    Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

    by elfling on Tue May 14, 2013 at 04:04:47 PM PDT

    •  It's both, really (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      The administration is part of the reason the costs having been rising as drastically as they have been, along with healthcare costs. The corporatization of the university system here in California has been horrible for higher education and part of it has been spending stupid amounts of money on consultants and admin. Not office staff mind you, I mean the presidents and deans and such.

      Of course, we've got the dems in charge here and they were suppose to ride in on their white horse and fix these problems once they had a super majority in the legislature. Surprise, surprise, moonbeam decided to go third way and refuses to take on the prisons unions, which is a giant drain on our state.  Not to mention his talk of making our environmental law more business friendly. And gutting funds going to Oakland once he used us to get elected to the governorship.

      There's a lot of blame to go around here.

      If debt were a moral issue then, lacking morals, corporations could never be in debt.

      by AoT on Tue May 14, 2013 at 04:18:59 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  CSU has been dealing with this crap since 1999 (0+ / 0-)

      Hell, even in Fall of 2000, when as a SFSU student, I was forced to living in the Presidio or the Treasure Island for student housing when the damn incompetent SFSU Housing Department could not be able to give me and others priority housing (even though we already signed up to get priority housing) in Park Merced or Stonestown, housing communities that are in short proximity to the SFSU campus.  I remember the local news stations were reporting that two twin sisters from Denmark (I believe it was from Denmark) had already signed up for on campus housing and had been granted it show up in person all the way from Europe one day to find out that housing is not available for them?  This was 2000, before the draconian cuts ever came in 2008 and beyond.

      For me, nothing with CSU is ever new.  They always cut, hurt for cash or anything else.  Hell, even the SFSU housing department was notoriously incompetent because there were mold issues in the apartment complexes that were built long before the Village at Centennial Square.  And by the way, the Village at Centennial Square apartment complex was not built on time and the people running it were saying that the apartment community was off campus housing, even though the apartments were right on campus grounds.

      There's one great thing I can say about SFSU and other CSUs.  You get a live person on the call and you meet very intelligent people.  However, administration flat out stinks.

  •  This is not uncommon. (4+ / 0-)

    I work at the the University of Nevada, Reno and we've charged a graduation fee since I've been here, going on 14 years now.

    And I recall paying one when I graduated from Miami of Ohio way back in 1989.

  •  Sorry, no sympathy. (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    doc2, grover, nextstep, greengemini

     Taxpayers and teachers and poor people and old people and hungry people and sick people in the great state of California don't have enough -- and we have still paid property taxes and sales taxes and income taxes and voted for educational bonds and pushed for quality school boards for this great state.

    There are no free lunches.  

    If you want a party, pay for the speaker, the hall, the ceremonies, the gown and cap.   It's a bargain at 60.00 -- what would you pay for a rock concert that probably won't mean as much for you?  

    I've been by Cal State Hayward, and seen some of the Students -- pretty well dressed, driving nice cars, up to date computers and I-pads and clear complexions and straight teeth  like they have medical coverage to see dermatologists (all you have to do to see the advances in dental and dermatology is take a look at the pre-1970 college year books).

    Sorry, I'd rather pay my health care premium than pay for your graduation.  

    Oh, but hey, congratulations!  Be sure to thank your parents and the other taxpayers that started you on your road to success.  .....  

    •  That's why I stick to private schools nowadays (0+ / 0-)

      I'm tired of the B.S. with the CSU systems.  Although I'm transferring from one school to the next (Golden Gate University to University of San Francisco), I don't deal with nonsense such as classes being dropped or lack of funding for one program.

      There are so many ways CSUs and UC schools can get funding.  They're depending too much on the State of California.  On the other hand, tax revenue is increasing so we'll see over time how that effects the CSU system.

      But CSUs have also been dealt with controversy before.  In 1999, there were teacher walkouts in Fall 1999 at Sonoma State University.  This of course was when the economy was at lower than 5% unemployment and funding through the CSU and UC system was higher.

      How about this concept:  Lower fees for students by 40%?  Oh wait, that's going to kill the colleges.

      That's why I make this argument:  Go to public school for K-12 years, stick to private school for your college years.

      •  BS with the CSU systems? (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        Classes being dropped?

        Heh.  It appears you've never tried to walk into a lecture hall that was standing room only, with people lined up outside, and the crash lists was over 200 names long.

        The professor walks in and says, "Graduating seniors can stay. No guarantees."

        You're a graduating senior. So you stay.

        Repeat 8 times that day, the next and for evening classes. Same class, different professors, different books, different homework and quizzes... You have to keep up for all of them because you may get one and you can't be behind.

        Pray to God that you get ONE of these classes so you can, in fact, graduate that semester and not have to come back next year.

        I had to crash two classes to graduate. Plus I was able to get a class similar to one I needed to graduate, thus, my petition on my graduation application, which my Department agreed to accept.

        But I have a degree and a great education. I was able to afford it by working full time (and an extra part time job during summers) without incurring student loans.

        I have nothing but gratitude for the citizens of California.

         AND in job interviews, when they asked me what was the most important thing I learned in college, I always grinned and told them that I learned how to negotiate a confusing, complex, overcrowded, underfunded bureaucracy and graduate college in four years when it took most of my friends 6 years.

        They always loved that answer. Best part is that it was true.

        College is what we make it.

        © grover

        So if you get hit by a bus tonight, would you be satisfied with how you spent today, your last day on earth? Live like tomorrow is never guaranteed, because it's not. -- Me.

        by grover on Tue May 14, 2013 at 05:19:18 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I am sorry but that is ridiculous. I just moved (0+ / 0-)

          back to CA and it is a complete mess and no it is not just prop 13.  The taxes here are ridiculous and the people of CA get absolutely nothing for them.  I expect to see another tax revolt.  The schools are a mess, the roads are a mess....nothing works here.   I just don't understand where the money goes.  Governmor Moonbeam and our supermajority better get off their asses and get busy.

        •  You have not lived through California enough (0+ / 0-)

          I've been through public school systems most of my life through Berkeley and San Francisco and with all due respect, they always get the short end of the stick.  

          Private school systems on the other hand never have an issue with funds and when you go there, you concentrate on getting educated as opposed to fighting the system over classes that get cut that you really want.

          This whole notion on college is what we make it really is just naive.  That assumes that the CSU system is just like any other college in the public school system, when in fact, it always goes through cuts.  The system has been going through this crap since 1999 (even when the unemployment rate was less than 5% and the economy great) and to be frank, sometimes I don't know what to do:  Strangle the CA State Government or strange the Board that Oversees the CSU system or even the UC system.

          I don't doubt there is good education in public school system but when I pay for college, I shouldn't have to deal with B.S.  I expect to get an education and not deal with politics.  People can say in the public system, "You're lucky to get an education."  Yeah, but what kind of education am I getting?

    •  Who wants a party? (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      I paid $35 or so (above and beyond the cap and gown, which I paid for separately) to sit on crappy folding chairs the university already owned, in a building the university already owned (that would have been open for use anyway), to listen to some past graduate who now is some insurance exec in Australia babble on about business stuff I could care less about.

      It's the nickel and dime aspect that's annoying.  Just fold the damn fee into the yearly cost of tuition.

      •  The CSU system can't charge tuition (0+ / 0-)

        EXCEPT for course costs (professor salaries, classrooms, etc).

        It's state law that's been in effect forever.

        Well, over 50 years.  That's forever, right?


        © grover

        So if you get hit by a bus tonight, would you be satisfied with how you spent today, your last day on earth? Live like tomorrow is never guaranteed, because it's not. -- Me.

        by grover on Tue May 14, 2013 at 05:21:44 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  You paid to sit on (0+ / 0-)

        a folding chair that will have to be replaced eventually (where will that money come from?) that was set up by someone that had to be paid, in a building that had some sort of climate control, that had lights on (just the lights in the arena I managed cost $9.00 per hour in electricity ), that had to be cleaned after the ceremony was over, that had ushers and security and paramedics on hand for your safety.

        For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong. H. L. Mencken

        by MikeIa on Wed May 15, 2013 at 05:51:44 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  At Miami the graduation fee is ~ $30-35. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Popped up on my semester bill when I registered to graduate back in Jan or Feb or so.

  •  Why blame the university? (2+ / 0-)

    They are given an insufficient budget and have an enormous responsibility. They're nickel-and-diming the students because they have no choice but to do so. If you were the dean, you'd have to do the same.

    •  It hits too close to home for me (0+ / 0-)

      I've dealt with this crap since I was a student at SFSU in 2000 and now students are dealing with even more nowadays with CSUs.  If it's not the incompetent SFSU Housing Department, it's got to be something else.

      These schools, with their reputation, can go out and seek private funding.  Not sure why that is such an issue.  Supposedly they've got alumni in their network that help bring more funds to the school.  This is NOT that difficult if they are proactive.  What, does State Government prohibit CSU systems to seek private funding?

      If I were Dean of a CSU system and nickle and dime the students with no choice, I'd resign and get a different career.  Or I'd hold the State Legislature's feet to the fire and make them bleed until they provide funding.  Then if not success, I'd take my issue with the federal government or better yet:  I'd run for State Senator or Assemblyman.

  •  The UC and CSU systems (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    are stuck between a rock and a hard place. If they want to retain faculty (particularly the most notable ones) they have to be able to pay them somewhat comparably to places like Duke and the private east coast colleges, particularly given the cost of housing in CA, but the legislature has cut their budgets severely for several years. Plus the costs of everything else keep going up.

    Thus the students get charged for every little thing.

    •  That's why I would hate to be a Dean of a CSU (0+ / 0-)

      I have complete admiration for Deans and everyone else who are persistent and dedicated to being apart of the faculty that provides opportunity for students who need an education.   I would hate more than anything else for CSUs and others to not get additional funding.

      But this is where I draw the line for how I get my education.  In principle, I shouldn't have to fight for an education like I should have to fight to find a job.  This is the United States and particularly, this is California.  We aren't a third world country.

      It used to be college education, at least during my father's days, was inexpensive.  Now it's an arm and a leg for students.  However, with Elizabeth Warren in Congress and others fighting to put caps on student tuition, I'm hopeful the mood at CSUs and UC schools will change overtime.  Being a Bay Area native, this region needs to have a good education system and students shouldn't have to go to University of Phoenix or DeVry University for education.

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