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Phil Matier: Despite Tuition Freeze, State's College Students May Pay More With New Fees

SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS) — Tuition hikes at California campuses may be frozen, but that doesn't mean the cost for students isn't rising. Many campuses are now charging "student success" fees.

Back in 2012, when the budget was cut in Sacramento, schools were granted the right to charge these fees that add up to millions of dollars. So despite the not paying more for tuition, some of the fees can amount up to another $2,000 a year.

The success fees are not for individuals to be successful, but for the entire school. However, the amounts vary. Cal State East Bay, for example, charges only $240 a year, while San Jose State which is currently at $630 a year will likely raise it to $790 by the end of the year next year.

So students have to pay more—only it's not being called tuition.

Is this just a semantic shuffle—swapping out words like tax and tuition with endless amount of separate fees? I would call it a semantic hustle. The words "fee" and "tax" might have the same number of letters but they have completely different methods of being implemented: you don't have to vote on fee.

A call for a tax, or tax increase, has to be heard by the public, it hits everyone at the same time and people get upset about it.

Anyone who has received a parking or speeding ticket and then finds out about all the surcharges—that the state and counties have included—their jaw drops and their wallet empties.

There is measure moving through the legislature now to add a $75 filing fee when you refinance your house in order to pay for affordable housing in the state—that's because the funds for redevelopment were cut.

It's not something that you hear people talking about or campaigning about; it usually stays under the radar until something like these success fees arise.

It's likely not to change because everyone feels a tax at once, but with fees we fee it alone as individuals. It's much more difficult to form a group to fight separate and individual fees.

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