The student news site of California State University - Los Angeles

University Times

The student news site of California State University - Los Angeles

University Times

The student news site of California State University - Los Angeles

University Times

As room and board costs increase, quality decreases

News of tuition increases hit CSU campuses recently, and what most students don’t know is that increased dorm costs have also made matters worse.

 

Although CSU officials claim that tuition hasn’t increased much in the last decade–just 5%– according to a statement from public affairs, higher housing costs can be a hidden fee affecting many students.

 

The University Times looked at data from the National Center for Education Statistics, which found that on-campus room and board costs increased for six of eight CSUs examined in Southern California over four years, from the 2019-20 school year to 2022-23.

 

Those costs increased nearly 23% at Cal State Dominguez Hills and around 13% at Cal State Long Beach and Cal State LA.


With inflation on the rise, 39% in the last decade according to an article by the UT, room and board is another thing to add to the list of expenses for CSU students. 

 

“I noticed the difference in room and board. I know all the prices for the singles, doubles and triples increased,” said Janet Huynh, a third-year psychology major and South Village resident living in a double spring of 2022. She said she has to dip into her savings to make ends meet. 

 

“I ended up taking that second job. It pays more than the first one I have,” Huynh said.

 

In January 2023, the university changed dining hall food service providers from Aramark to Chartwells. It was reported that there wouldn’t be a price increase for meal plans in spring of 2023, but some students have said that during the fall, they’ve had to pay more for room and board despite not making changes to their meal plan or housing arrangements.

 

“It’s gotten more expensive for me personally,” said Emily Sartin, a third-year English major and Phase II resident living in a double. “I originally only had to pay $7,000 my freshman year including housing, tuition and meal plan and now I’m paying $10,000 and I don’t know how it got to that point because I didn’t change anything.”

 

The CSU-approved tuition hike of 6% per year for five years takes effect next academic year. Over the past four years, in-state tuition for has only increased 0.55% at Cal State LA, according to the data on the NCES database.

 

Several housing residents noted that the price they’re paying for meal plans doesn’t match the quality of food they’re served at dining halls. 

 

“I don’t really like the food so it kind of feels like a waste spending that much money,” said Erin Romo, a fourth-year natural science major and Phase I resident living in a triple. “When they switched companies that they get all their produce and stuff from, the quality decreased even more.”

 

Ericka Hayes, a third-year psychology major, agreed the meals are overpriced.

 

“The quality of food doesn’t match the price I’m paying for the meal plan, definitely. We’re only paying this much because they switched companies because of complaints of food last year,” said Hayes, a South Village resident living in a double. 

 

Hayes was originally a commuter from South Central, but having to take public transit an hour and a half each way made her decide to live on campus.

 

“I don’t utilize the dining hall as much, because I don’t believe the food is quality, healthy or sustainable,” she said. 

 

Other students said they like dining hall food.

 

“I’m not really that much of a picky eater so I’m not the best person when it comes to judging quality of food,” said Residential Assistant Daniel Ozorio, a first-year grad student and computer science major living in a Phase II single. “I still think it’s good.”

 

Some students had a similar stance on the correlation between quality of housing and the price they pay. 

 

“I feel like they put us in poor living conditions. The quality decrease from the dorms compared to the apartments is significant,” said Sartin, adding the lack of safety and cleanliness in the apartments is what adds to the decrease of quality. Taken all together, she said, “Me and all my roommates pay $10,000 a month to live here.”

 

Some students said they’re fine with their housing situation. 

 

“I think the housing is pretty affordable in comparison to other places here in L.A.,” Romo said.

 

“If the services we were promised in our contract were kept up-to-date with and looked after and actually being done, then I believe our room is a fair amount,” said Huynh, who added that the cleaning in the dorm restrooms and other areas aren’t exactly up to par. 

 

Like Huynh, some students have had to find ways to pay for the increased room and board costs. 

 

“I try to work as much as I can just cause it’s so expensive but if I didn’t work then I wouldn’t have any money for my gas or if I needed to buy any school supplies,” Romo said.

 

Others see their debt growing. “I actually pay nothing out of pocket presently, however, I have taken out loans to cover some costs,” Hayes said.

 

Whether students live in South Village, Phase I or Phase II, they’re feeling the pinch of higher prices without an increase in quality.

 

“If there are continuous spikes then it might be something that a lot of people look into before they even apply to housing,” Ozorio said. 

 

The University Times reached out to Cal State LA for a comment but have yet to hear back.

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