California State Universities are Overcharging

The California State Auditor’s June 20 report shows that the CSU system accumulated an undisclosed $1.5 billion surplus. Four of the CSU campuses—Fullerton, Channel Islands, Sacramento State, and San Diego State—argued that they needed the revenue for student tuition, but sat on the unused surplus. 

With a surplus of $456 million, San Diego State University was discovered to have the most significant extra revenue of the four campuses. While parking rates have increased by 29 percent, capacity has gone down. According to the school newspaper The Daily Aztec, “SDSU sold over 48,000 student permits during the 2017-18 school year, despite only having 14,197 available spaces.”

Furthermore, the university has failed to meet its policy requirement to plan for alternative transportation: to nurture a greater sense of on-campus community, reduce the number of vehicles on campus, and decrease carbon footprint. Rather than invest more in public transportation and shuttles or further develop a bike-sharing program, SDSU has continued the most costly and ineffective option for parking facilities. 

Also, the construction of a new parking structure is being paid for with students’ permit fees even though it does not add to the availability of student parking. The structure is intended for campus visitors and customers of the South Campus Plaza’s restaurants and other businesses.

University administrators responded in a statement published online, emphasizing the buses on campus and claiming a reduced reliance on cars overall. There was no explanation provided for why the university accumulated unspent tuition fees even as tuition rates increased for students. Starting this fall, SDSU students who live on campus will no longer be allowed to bring a car. The statement did not explain why revenue from students’ pockets is going into the construction of a parking garage for retail purposes.


Photo by Matt Ragland