State University Provides “Little Oversight” of Mandatory Fees

California State University campuses lack proper oversight over the use of student fees, the state auditor reported May 14.

The auditor reviewed campus-based mandatory fees at four campuses and found:

  • Unlike tuition, which is set by the Board of Trustees, “individual campuses establish and increase mandatory fees with little oversight and the fees vary considerably from campus to campus.”

  • For academic year 2019-20, Cal Poly’s mandatory fees at $4,201 were the highest while Fresno State had the lowest at $847 per year.

  • “Although campuses began significantly increasing mandatory fees in response to reductions in state funding over ten years ago during the last state budget crisis, they have not decreased mandatory fees despite increases in both state funding and tuition.”

  • “The campuses we reviewed regularly use mandatory fee revenue to pay for some of the same fundamental costs and core functions that the CSU primarily relies on state funding and tuition to support.”

  • Three campuses have spent millions of dollars of the mandatory fee revenue annually on salaries and benefits to hire more faculty, offer more courses, and support students academically.

  • All four campuses have used the revenue for instructional materials, equipment, software and improvements to academic spaces.

Although campuses must obtain approval from the Chancellor’s Office to establish new mandatory fees, campus presidents do not need approval to increase the amount of existing fees, the auditor found.

“Campuses have not sufficiently justified their needs when determining and setting proposed fees or increases to existing fees, and the Chancellor’s Office has not ensured that campuses adequately consult with students about proposed new fees or fee increases,” the auditor wrote.

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