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.Here's what the Legislative Analyst's Office says:
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.
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.Now get this coming from the a spokesman from Cal State:
"I do wonder why they chose to do it that way," she said.
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