LONG BEACH, Calif.—Trustees of the huge California State University system on Wednesday were to consider another tuition hike, this time a 9 percent increase that would raise student costs $498 to $5,970 a year.
It would be the 23-campus system's ninth tuition increase in nine years.
With campus fees added in, the total cost for undergraduates would be more than $7,000 for the full year.
As trustees discussed overall budget issues, about 40 students demonstrated outside the meeting, holding signs with slogans such as "Make Banks Pay."
Elaine Nadalin, a sociology student at CSU Long Beach, was among several dozen students arriving at the meeting to oppose the hike.
"Students are the least able to subsidize these increases. Some of us will be barred from accessing higher education," said Nadalin, a member of the group Students for a Quality Education. "Banks are making record profits at a time when there are record cuts."
University officials said the proposed tuition increase for 2012-2013 is necessary because of continuing cuts in state funding. The CSU budget has been slashed by $650 million in recent years and another $100 million cut is possible next month.
The board plans to ask the Legislature for an additional $138.3 million in state funding. If approved, the tuition hike wouldn't be needed.
Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, a member of the CSU board of trustees, said he opposes a tuition hike.
"We have an obligation to our students and their families to send a strong message to Sacramento that our higher education system and economy cannot meet its potential unless this catastrophic trend is reversed," he said.
There are about 412,000 students enrolled at Cal State campuses.
Cal State officials said the availability of financial aid means about 45 percent of the university system's students won't be impacted by the tuition hike.
Protesters were expected outside the CSU board of trustees meeting. The demonstration was expected to be largely driven by members of ReFund California, a coalition of student groups and university employee unions seeking to make big banks and wealthy individuals pay higher taxes to help fund public education.
Tuition rose 23 percent and enrollment was slashed by 10,000 students in the past two years because of the cuts in state funding.
The tuition hike vote comes as faculty from two campuses made plans to walk off the job Thursday to protest Cal State's withholding of contractual pay raises for faculty members.