When there was once a feeling of accomplishment in graduating college, now it’s filled with anxiety and fear of the real world.

When the California State University system was started, the intention was to provide a cheaper and more geographically pragmatic educational opportunity for neighborhood students. Whereas private schools charged an arm and leg, the local Cal State schools brought quality education at an affordable cost. But then things got complicated, and they had to raise tuition and become more selective in student acceptance. The reason they could raise tuition is because the Department of Education allows students to take out massive loans to pay for a college experience that might have more to do with partying than studying. Now that we found out the Cal State University system was secretly stashing away over $1 billion but raising those semester rates, we must wonder why they hurt the very students they promised to help.

Essentially, the narrative is that the California State University system, which includes California State University, Northridge, and California State University, Channel Islands, created a secret stash worth $1.5 billion and still raised tuition and hired lobbyists to pressure the legislature to increase state funding.

What hurts the most is that they continued to keep funds while making local parents and students pay more.  

Auditor Elaine Howle wrote a report claiming that CSU collected the surplus between 2008 and 2018, with the chief source being student tuition.

Between 2008 and 2018, the CSU system almost doubled student tuition at its 23 campuses, but they did not notify legislators and students about the surplus. Here’s the breakdown: Tuition went up from $3,048 in 2008-2009 to $5,742 in 2017-18. This could be considered fraud, especially since government funds were being used to grow the secret stash.

Remember, the schools get government money from students who applied for student loans. And as the tuition went up, the loan availability increased. I went to CSUN almost 20 years ago, and my semester tuition was under $2,000. Sure, parking wasn’t great, and we didn’t have a football team, but it was quality education.

“By failing to disclose this surplus when consulting with students about tuition increases or when projecting CSU’s resources and needs to the Legislature, the Chancellor’s Office has prevented legislators and students from evaluating CSU’s financial needs,” the report said. The report also added that CSU increased the cost of parking permits for their new expensive parking facilities for as much as $236 per semester. They then turned around and took that money to pay for these new structures at campuses in Sacramento, San Diego, Fullerton and Channel Islands.

The reason this is so outrageous is that much of those costs were passed on to our Ventura County community. So many of our young people, over the past decade, were the victims of tuition raises. Now plagued by debt, our recent college students are hurt in their ability to move, buy new cars, and qualify for homes and other properties.

It feels like colleges and their requirements to enter have been at the forefront of scandal recently. Whether it be USC and the “Aunt Becky” scandal or sports breaking recruiting rules, our educational institutions must strive to be better.

When I was an English major in college at CSUN, I remember having engaging conversations with likeminded students. We didn’t need fancy buildings or big parking lot structures. All we needed was a professor who cared and a room to stay warm in the winter and cool in the spring.

With colleges becoming a laughing-stock amongst people over 30, what with their protests of invited speakers not “woke” enough to get on campus safely (Bill Maher to Ann Coulter), or safe space rooms (with stuffed animals to squeeze), or graduation majors with no real future attached, it seems like our students are the victims of much more than just getting the short end of the tuition stick.

Not only did the Cal State’s pass the financial buck onto the students, they seem to have passed the educational buck onto them too. When there was once a feeling of accomplishment in graduating college, now it’s filled with anxiety and fear of the real world. The fact that colleges have been hurting students isn’t new; it’s just finally being brought to light.