Sunday, December 20, 2009

STATE UNIVERSITY FEE HIKES ARE A TEST MANY FAMILIES CAN'T PASS: As California's promise of affordable higher education slips out of reach for many, some parents urge making a noise in Sacramento.

By Carla Rivera | LA Times |

December 20, 2009 -- The budget crisis afflicting California State University could not have come at a worse time for Berenice Vite and Rafael Curiel, whose son Alonso is a sophomore at Cal State Long Beach. As the university was imposing a 32% student fee hike this year, Curiel underwent two shoulder surgeries and lost his job at a medical equipment firm.

The family has missed three house payments to scrape together tuition to continue educating their son, who does not qualify for financial aid. They are frustrated and worried, and believe that their voices have not been heard as fast-moving decisions have been made to raise fees, cut enrollment and eliminate programs.

"All of these things are coming at the same time, and I'm really concerned," said Vite, 46, an instructional aide for the Los Angeles Unified School District. "I was raised learning about the importance of education, and I want my children to be educated. But we don't know if we're going to have a house or not."

Vite and Curiel echo the voices of families throughout the state who are being severely tested by the budget cuts at the Cal State, University of California and community college systems.

The fee increases, as well as mandatory staff and faculty furloughs, steep reductions in enrollment (40,000 otherwise eligible students will be turned away in the next two years at Cal State) and elimination of programs and majors have spurred student and faculty protests on many campuses.

But now there is an emerging movement of parents who are speaking out and assuming a bigger advocacy role. (whole story:

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