The Irascible ProfessorSM

Irreverent Commentary on the State of Education in America Today

by Dr. Mark H. Shapiro

Breaking News - February 16, 2009.  Budget Crisis Forces Cal State Fullerton to Cut 2,000 "Students" -- System to Cut 12,000.

The Irascible Professor has learned that the current California budget crisis is forcing Cal State Fullerton to cut the equivalent of 2,000 students from its enrollment for the coming academic year.  The 23-campus California State University system as a whole will cut the equivalent of 12,000 students.  The Fullerton campus, which has engaged in a practice of enrolling more full-time-equivalent students than the target number established by the CSU Chancellor's Office each semester for the past decade or more, typically has been over-enrolled by about 6% more than target during that period.

This practice was followed to increase student fee income to the Fullerton campus.  Although the Chancellor's Office usually did not provide state funds to cover the costs of the additional students, the campus was able to capture the fees that each student is required to pay.  (These fees are a fraction of the state contribution.)  Typically, the Chancellor's Office would raise the campus enrollment target the following year to cover the over-enrollment from the current year.  By following the practice of over-enrolling again the following year, the campus was able to increase its total number of students dramatically.  And, in the past few years Fullerton has become one of the top two or three campuses in the system in terms of enrollment.  Unfortunately, because of this practice, the Fullerton campus also remained one of the poorest campuses in the system in terms of total income per enrolled student.  It typically ranked at or near the bottom of the 23 campuses in terms of dollars received per full-time-equivalent student.  The practice also has resulted in the Fullerton campus bearing a substantial fraction of the total reduction for the CSU system in the face of the current fiscal crisis.

Since it is too late to do much about the actual number of students enrolled at Fullerton for the coming academic year, the 2,000 "student" cut at Fullerton will be accomplished by reducing the number of available class sections.  This will translate into a reduction of some 900 class sections during the coming academic year.  With 900 fewer class sections being available, many students will be unable to enroll in classes that they need for graduation: and, some students likely will be unable to fill the 12-unit class load needed to maintain eligibility for financial aid.

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