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What is the history of CSUSM's AE&SS Fee?

When was the fee proposed?

With the passage of Proposition 30 in November 2012, which resulted in $4.1 million in tuition refunds, and with continued cuts to state funding allocated to the CSU system, CSUSM's ability to provide a quality educational experience was at risk. As a result of budget cuts, the University reduced the number of course sections offered, put unit limits in place, and offered fewer academic options and support resources for students.

In order to provide quality programs and services to students, despite the economic challenges faced by the CSU system, the Academic Excellence and Student Success (AE&SS) Fee was proposed. The funds generated by the fee would be used to provide additional course sections in areas where students' time to graduation could be delayed by a shortage of seats, expand library hours and library resources, and expand academic support and career advising services. At the time, CSUSM was one of only two schools in the CSU system without a student success fee.

How were students given a voice?

Because implementation of an Academic Excellence and Student Success fee would  impact a broad array of constituents across the campus and community, it was determined that the alternative consultation process would provide the greatest opportunity for input.

Per Executive Order (EO) 1102 (supersedes EO 1054), campuses may elect to use alternative consultation methods when a fee referendum is determined to not be the best way to reach a broad audience. The importance of the proposed fee necessitated greater participation than would be expected from a referendum process. Then campus President, Dr. Karen Haynes, determined that the use of alternative consultation was more appropriate than a student fee referendum. This decision was based on the consistently low voter turnout the campus has experienced during ASI elections and other fee referendums. Alternative consultation ensures that students from all aspects of campus life have an opportunity to participate in decisions regarding fee increases and the use of those fees. Since such actions also impact faculty and staff, it was appropriate to use alternative consultation to solicit their feedback as well.

During the alternative consultation process for the AE&SS fee, which included an informational website, open forums, focus groups, campus announcements, and social media campaigns, students had an opportunity to learn about how the fee would contribute to faster graduation times. By graduating even one semester earlier, students would be able to save $8,000–23,000 in tuition, fees and expenses, and start their careers earlier. One of the most important aspects of the AE&SS fee is that 100% of the fee—unlike tuition or other payments—stays on our campus for its intended use

How was the fee implemented?

The fee was officially established by Executive Order (EO) 1086 on June 18, 2013. After consultation with the Student Fee Advisory Committee (SFAC), the President approved the following structure for implementation effective fall 2013. 

  • $100 per semester for the 2013/2014 academic year.
  • $150 per semester for the 2014/2015 academic year.
  • $200 per semester for the 2015/2016 academic year.
  • $250 per semester for the 2016/2017 academic year and thereafter.

The President, in consultation with SFAC and the President's Executive Council, has the authority to change, suspend or eliminate this fee at any time. Changes can also be recommended to the President by SFAC at any time.

These changes may impact not only the amount of the fee itself but also how to best use the fee; including possible reallocations of funding among project areas. The funds are allocated as shown in the AE&SS fee reports.

How are the funds managed?

This is a local campus-based fee that is managed independently by CSUSM.

In accordance with the CSU Student Fee Policy outlined in Executive Order (EO) 1102, the Student Fee Advisory Committee reviews and recommends approval of requests to increase or waive Category II or III fees. The committee is chaired by the Vice President for Student Affairs and is advisory to the President of CSUSM. It is comprised of students, faculty, staff, and administrators.

SFAC meets on a monthly basis and members of the university community are welcome to attend meetings. SFAC may request an overview of how any student fee is being allocated at any time.

What does the fee support?

The fee has been used for additional course sections, undergraduate advising, career support, academic support, and student life and recreational opportunities. It has preserved our student-centered mission, vision and values, and provides students increased opportunities for success.

Since the implementation of the AE&SS fee, CSUSM has been able to decrease course bottlenecks by increasing sections, expand library hours to accommodate more student research and group meetings, and provide additional academic support and career advising resources for our growing student population. All of these factors contribute to increased four- and six-year graduation rates; which in turn, result in tuition savings for students.

Can students opt out of fees? How are fees paid?

Students may not opt out of the AE&SS fee. The AESS fee is a mandatory fee required to enroll or attend the university.

While campus-based fees, which would include the AE&SS fee are not covered by State University Grants or Cal Grant tuition awards, the fees would be included in the student's estimated cost of attendance. Thus, other types of aid, such as Pell Grant and federal loans, may be used to cover the fee.

Learn more about how fees are paid, how to file an appeal, and the student financial responsibility agreement on Student Financial Services' Fees and Payment FAQ's website.