In a meeting at the Chancellor's Office in Long Beach on Wednesday, the CSU Board of Trustees voted 11-3 in favor of a 5 percent tuition hike effective in the spring if voters don't pass Gov. Jerry Brown's Proposition 30.
The 5 percent increase would mean an additional $150 per semester for full-time undergraduates, pushing annual tuition up to $6,270. Campus- based fees typically add another $1,000 annually.
If Proposition 30 passes, the CSU would rescind the tuition increase and also rescind a 9percent tuition hike - $249 per semester - already in effect this year.
The 9 percent tuition rollback would mean that thousands of students would be partially reimbursed, requiring the system to reprocess financial aid packages, grant tuition credit or issue refund checks.
The worst-case tuition hike plan is meant to offset an anticipated $250million loss in state funding if Proposition 30 fails. The 23-campus system has lost nearly $1 billion in state revenue since 2007.
"It is clear that we cannot simply cut our way out of another $250 million hit to our budget," CSU Chancellor Charles B. Reed said. "We need to take a balanced approach in terms of cost reductions and revenue enhancements."
Reed said a tuition increase was the alternative to a grim proposal of 1,500 faculty and staff layoffs, reductions for thousands of courses and admission cuts that would force the CSU to turn away up to 20,000 qualified students.
Under the plan approved Wednesday, nonresident students will see a 7percent increase in the tuition supplement fee they pay on top of regular tuition.
Several people spoke before the board on Wednesday urging California's voters to pass Proposition 30, which would provide billions of dollars in funding for public education by temporarily increasing sales tax and income taxes on high earners.
About two dozen students for the group Students for Quality Education attended the meeting in protest of yet another tuition hike. The CSU has raised tuition by 23 percent in recent years.
Standing outside the Chancellor's Office, 25-year-old Natalie Dorado held a sign that read: "Shame on BOT (Board of Trustees) Stop Tuition Hikes!"
Dorado, an economics major at Cal State San Bernardino, said CSU leaders should work to find alternative ways to generate funding.
"We're so tired of seeing our tuition go up year after year," she said. "I really hope that Prop. 30 passes because that at least will generate more revenue from the state instead of generating revenue at the expense of students."
The student protest on Wednesday was peaceful compared to last year's events when more than 100 demonstrators flooded the CSU meeting on Nov. 16 to protest a 9percent tuition increase.
The situation turned chaotic when police forced dozens of protesters outside for disrupting the meeting and then used pepper spray to subdue the angry crowd.
Protesters pounded on the building's glass doors until one finally shattered, cutting a police officer's arm.
Police that day identified Seth Andrew Newmeyer, a 19- year-old UCLA student, as the protester responsible for shattering the glass door.
Newmeyer was arrested and charged with misdemeanor vandalism and failure to disperse. His trial is taking place in Long Beach Superior Court this week.
If found guilty, Newmeyer would be responsible for paying the cost to repair the glass door, which CSU officials said cost more than $32,000 to replace.