Promise of more scholarship money met with skepticism by some

Some California State University, Monterey Bay (CSUMB) students attending Wednesday’s Associated Students (AS) town hall didn’t feel assured when CSUMB President Vanya Quiñones promised more money for scholarships to alleviate the impact of the increased tuition. 

“I just think that they’re saying so many things about helping, but not actually helping,” said third-year Kalina Brouwer.

Quiñones stated during the meeting, which was attended by about 40 students, that she has nearly doubled the amount in scholarships from $7.7 million to $14 million. She is also finding money through donors and other venues to offset tuition costs.

“President Quiñones’ statement about increasing scholarships gives me no hope as there are definitely some students who fall between the cracks,” said Brouwer. “There are also some students who have applied for every scholarship and every loan possible and been denied every single one.” .

“I was further taken aback by these statements. Let’s believe that there’s gonna be more scholarships, so that the tuition increase won’t affect 60% of us,” said fourth-year Edwin Lopez.

“Financial aid is a great help, no doubt about it, but are we just supposed to accept that paying for education will never get easier?” questioned Lopez.

Quiñones promised that some of the alleviation includes expanding resources on campus and increasing affordable housing. Chief Financial Officer and Vice President of Administration and Finance, Glen Nelson, is tasked with finding alternative housing for students. 

Despite these promises, some students say they are having a hard time trusting the university.

“My main issue is that it feels like they don’t truly care. [They] need to stop raising the cost of housing and tuition and listen to us. But I don’t know if I’ll ever trust what they say, to be honest,”  Brouwer said.

Although the tuition decision was approved by the CSU Board of Trustees,  Brouwer feels  let down by Quiñones.

“I think she should’ve done more to fight for us. It seemed like she didn’t care that they were raising the price. I feel like she didn’t do anything to show she cares about the increase,”  Brouwer said.

“As a first generation student, the town hall has left me feeling a lot of things, and if I had to summarize, it’d have to be not surprised, angry and insulted,” Lopez said. “I wasn’t expecting real answers and solutions from the administration, but even then, some of the tone-deaf responses still took me aback. I chose to speak out anyway, more as an appeal to my peers rather than those who claim to support us.” 

Quiñones was open about the budget deficit which is currently affecting the CSU, and the funding gap – what the state receives in support, versus what the cost of tuition is. There is a 20% difference between these two. At CSUMB, it will result in a decrease in maintenance and cleaning personnel some students might have seen around campus.

“Even if we buy into the narrative of a deficit, what about the endless investments made by the CSU system?” asked Lopez. “There is a problem with how money is used on campus, but it’s not a deficit, and we’re smart enough to realize that all these problems are not isolated, but endemic to the root problem of our education system.”

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