Addressing Off-Campus Centers' Fixed Costs, $5.2 Million
Off-campus centers provide instructional services where demand cannot be readily accommodated at the main campus, and where access to higher education might otherwise be denied to the regional population. The state has supported the establishment of these CSU centers because they serve a critical access need, and because they can be used to target specific degree programs. The state has recognized the important role these centers play in providing student access by appropriating (1) enrollment funding for the students served there and (2) capital outlay funding in some cases. The state, however, does not provide funding currently for the higher fixed costs associated with these facilities such as leasing and maintaining the instructional space, providing library and other academic support services, providing local student services including admissions and record keeping, providing administrative and non-faculty staff support, improving technology, and enhancing curriculum development. These fixed costs represent a disproportionate share of total costs, given the small size of these institutions, and are therefore not adequately met through marginal cost funding of enrollments.
The CSU has implemented several management policies and procedures to accommodate all eligible students seeking enrollment, and off-campus centers have been an important method to diminish enrollment pressures at the main campuses. The CSU assumes all variable costs for these centers until they reach the 500 full-time equivalent students (FTES) threshold. After the 500 FTES threshold has been reached, the centers are eligible for permanent status and must be funded for associated fixed cost increases.
This budget requests $5.2 million to support fixed cost requirements at five centers that either exceed 500 FTES at present or will exceed that threshold in 2009/10:
- Antelope Valley (Bakersfield)
- Palm Desert (San Bernardino)
- Concord (East Bay)
- Irvine (Fullerton)
- Imperial Valley (San Diego)
Based on standards recognized by the state through the marginal cost methodology for funding enrollment growth and referenced by the California Postsecondary Education Commission in addition to state recognized standards for supporting assigned square footage, the 2009/10 cost formula identifies $1.04 million in additional fixed cost need as a center grows between 500 and 1,250 FTES. By funding these fixed costs, the state can encourage the efficient utilization and growth of state-approved off-campus centers, which are an effective way for the state to meet its higher education objectives in parts of the state that lack campuses.