The Student Success Fee: Pros and Cons

As Cal Poly nears the final decision on whether to increase tuition through the not-so-subtly-named “Student Success Fee,” I will be finishing a month-long beat. It’s been my job to stay up to date on everything going on with the fee and be one of the most knowledgable people at Cal Poly about it. Next Wednesday, students will cast their ballot in an advisory vote before President Jeffrey Armstrong decides if he will recommend the fee increase to CSU Chancellor Charles Reed.

Though Reed has the ultimate decision, I think we at Cal Poly like to pretend we have some say over it. Even though the final outcome is not in my hands, I’d like to make a vote that will benefit the university and CSU system Wednesday. But despite the fact that, because of my weeks of┬áresearch, I know more about the fee than I ever wanted to, I am still at a loss for what my vote will be.

For my own reference as much as yours, here are the pros and cons:


  • Cal Poly is in a dire fiancial situation, and one time reserves have been used up. Administration has already started cutting costs, but primarily ones that do not affect the students. If we don’t get more money soon, students will begin to feel the cuts.
  • The fee really isn’t that much money. After I graduate, it will cap out at $260 per quarter, or $780 per academic year. In my senior year, it will be $210 per quarter, or $630 yearly. I’m willing to pay that for actual benefits like more classes and funding for student services.
  • As Armstrong told me last week, the revenue could have an exponential effect. If we are able to prove we can remain financially durable in tough economic times, donors will be more likely to invest.


  • There is no guarantee on what this money will be spent on. ASI President Kiyana Tabrizi and Armstrong both went on record saying classes are at the top of their priorities, but no word on how much will spent on them or which departments will be helped.
  • The committee that advises Armstrong how to spend the money will probably not represent the “average student.” Though I’m sure they have the students’ best interests at start, it will be administrators, faculty and ASI-type students.
  • Though I am personally able to pay for the fee, I recognize it will limit accessibility for some students. I’d like an analysis of those numbers on how many potential students would not be able to afford Poly.
  • Voting yes on this shows the CSU we are willing to keep paying more for our education, and they’re sure to take advantage of that in the future. We’ve already seen multiple tuition raises in recent years, and this would be signaling to the CSU we’re fine with that and are, in fact, willing to pay even more.
  • The fee will probably not advance us too much in the short term, as we are predicting approximately $11 million more in cuts next academic year. The fee would bring in less than $9 million next year, and just $14 million per year when it is fully implemented.

In the meantime, I’ll be working on a plethora of SSF stories over the next few days. Check back at for info as it comes out on the fee and its future.

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2 Responses to The Student Success Fee: Pros and Cons

  1. Pingback: Why are we fixing what’s not broken? | To be continued…

  2. Pingback: Cal Poly semester decision is out of students’ hands | To be continued…

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