The Cal Poly College Based Fee
Student Aid and Learn by Doing Plan


Current College Based Fee Information

Currently, most if not all funds from the College Based Fee are directed towards access to courses. There has been some level of student involvement in decisions in most cases. Colleges have historically used the CBF to:

  • hire more faculty to teach courses, expand access to major courses and otherwise promote opportunities that enable students to get the classes needed to graduate on time;
  • support academic retention and graduation initiatives;
  • promote student development; and
  • enhance educational quality and experience for students

Below are examples of the ways in which this support of student opportunities has materialized:

  • Providing access to classes in support of progress to degree/graduation
    • hiring faculty, staff, student and teaching assistants (salaries and benefits)
    • provide diverse course offerings
    • offer high demand courses
    • ensure sufficient and reasonable breadth of choice in courses
  • Addressing instructional technology and equipment needs (includes, but is not limited to)
    • scientific instrumentation and equipment
    • lab equipment
    • computing equipment
    • printers
    • purchasing, maintaining and repairing instructional equipment
    • updating classroom electronic equipment and computers
  • Creating/expanding practicum experiences, laboratory-equivalent, and other opportunities that allow for Learn by Doing and career development.
    • discussion sections
    • hands-¬on work with primary sources and/or acquisition of sources (e.g., databases and other library resources)
    • bringing in outside researchers or speakers for talks and presentations, and career speakers or events
    • class projects
    • organized workshops/visits to industry
    • senior project supplies
    • course projects
  • Enhancement of student experience
    • student research, (including travel to conferences)
    • support of instruction-related activities
    • Student scholarships for study abroad opportunities
    • Staffing for advising and mentoring programs to support students in getting connected and graduating on time
  • Supporting and enhancing instruction programs
    • collaborative spaces
    • library resources
    • lab improvements
  • faculty development

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Cal Poly's Accessibility and Affordability

For many low income students, Cal Poly is not accessible.

Due to the lack of financial aid, Cal Poly currently has a lower percentage of students from a lower socioeconomic status than other public universities in California.

Percentage of Students by Parent Income Level

$0-20,000 $20,001-$60,000 $60,001-$90,000 $90,001-$120,000 $120,001-$150,000 $150,001+
Percentage of First Year 5% 16% 10% 10% 9% 49%
Percentage of Transfer 11% 26% 16% 13% 11% 23%

Distribution of students by parental income; data provided by Cal Poly Office of Financial Aid.

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Cal Poly is not able to offer enough financial aid to make attending Cal Poly affordable for lower income students.

The average financial aid grant/scholarship amount for students receiving financial aid at Cal Poly is less than the cost of attendance. Cal Poly is the only public university in California where that is the case.

2019-20 Tuition & Fees Avg financial aid grant/scholarship Diff Avg grant to fees
Channel Islands$6,802$8,548$1,746
Dominguez Hills$6,946$8,755$1,809
East Bay$7,000$8,312$1,312
Long Beach$6,834$8,722$1,888
Los Angeles$6,768$10,159$3,391
Monterey Bay$7,143$8,725$1,582
San Bernardino$6,886$9,621$2,735
San Diego$7,510$9,481$1,971
San Francisco$7,266$9,251$1,985
San Jose$7,852$8,729$877
San Luis Obispo$9,943$6,996($2,947)
San Marcos$7,717$8,250$533
2019-20 Tuition & Fees Avg financial aid grant/scholarship Diff Avg grant to fees
Santa Barbara$14,391$18,590$4,199
Santa Cruz$13,991$17,161$3,170
UC Irvine$13,727$18,273$4,546
UC Riverside$13,853$16,159$2,306
UC San Diego$14,415$18,914$4,499

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Competitor Universities

When it comes to competing based on our student profiles, our most relevant competitors are the UC campuses. Evidence of this competitiveness with the UC comes from several sources. The most important source is the National Student Clearinghouse Competition Analysis. The data from the National Student Clearinghouse allows us to see where students ultimately enrolled after they were admitted to Cal Poly. The graphs below show the data for fall 2020 for first-time first years. The top graph shows the top five schools where students attended if they did not enroll at Cal Poly. The second graph shows where students who were admitted to Cal Poly but chose not to attend eventually enrolled. The last or lower graph shows the top five locations for enrollment for students who were not selected by Cal Poly.

Top Five Schools for Freshman

Not Selected Selected
University of California San Diego 1,460 1,068
University of California Davis 1,303 953
University of California Berkeley 755 1,366
University of California Santa Barbara 991 1,099
University of California Santa Cruz 1,628 236

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Top Five Schools for Freshman Selected

University of California Los Angeles 1,413
University of California Berkeley 1,366
University of California Santa Barbara 1,099
University of California San Diego 1,068
University of California Davis 953

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Top Five Schools for Freshman Not Selected

Not Selected
University of California Los Angeles 1,628
University of California Berkeley 1,460
University of California Santa Barbara 1,306
University of California San Diego 1,303
University of California Davis 1,102

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The UCs have significantly more financial aid and scholarships to provide to students than Cal Poly and the CSU.

Unmet Financial Need (19-20) by Income Ranges for UC, CSU and Cal Poly

$0-$30,000 $30,000-$48,000 $48,000-$75,000 $75,000-$110,000 $110,000+
Average CSU $8,351 $9,612 $13,161 $19,372 $20,734
Average UC $9,182 $10,485 $13,709 $20,349 $30,339
Cal Poly $12,173 $13,194 $17,340 $22,744 $27,740

This graph (source) shows that unmet financial need (or the cost of attendance after financial aid is awarded) is higher for Cal Poly than the average cost of the CSU and the UC except for those students in the highest income bracket.

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Supporting the Academic Mission

Cal Poly's statewide polytechnic mission requires enhanced investment because we have a significantly higher percentage of STEM majors than all other CSU campuses (other than Cal Maritime). We have evaluated extensive models to determine the cost of instruction for each major at Cal Poly and are providing an average annual cost of instruction for each college as shown below. As shown, costs are highest in the three colleges already noted as high investment programs and which necessarily have a slightly higher CBF.

Total Annual Cost Per Student, 2019-2020

CAED $20,038
CAFES $19,740
CENG $19,115
CLA $17,353
CSM $17,660
OCOB $17,741

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As for faculty salaries, two different salary comparisons illustrate the need for a robust equity plan for faculty. As shown in the graph below, Cal Poly is significantly below the highest salaries across the CSU for Assistant, Associate and especially -- Full Professors. Average salaries for lecturers, however, are the highest in the CSU.

Faculty Salaries 2020-21 - Top Eight CSU Campuses

Lecturer Assist. Prof Assoc. Prof Full Prof
San Diego $62,578 $94,287 $104,685 $130,010
San Francisco $60,823 $92,102 $100,402 $119,548
San Jose $65,222 $90,285 $102,844 $120,950
Cal Poly $68,646 $87,973 $100,760 $116,514
Los Angeles $57,955 $90,031 $98,281 $115,031
Long Beach $64,598 $86,355 $99,597 $116,026
Pomona $62,200 $86,871 $98,095 $117,127
Fullerton $59,438 $88,337 $99,832 $113,605

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As noted previously, the CSU has compiled a list of comparator universities for comparison of tuition and fees. Using this same framework, average salaries for Full Professors at Cal Poly are significantly lower than all but two of the comparators. As an added note, while our competitors for students are the UCs, it is difficult to compare salaries for faculty who teach only undergraduate and masters and not PhD or professional school students. With these caveats in mind, average faculty salaries for the UCs are significantly higher than Cal Poly, the CSU and the comparator universities shown in the graph below.

Faculty Salaries 2018-19 - Cal Poly and CSU Comparator Universities

Assistant ProfessorsAssociate ProfessorsFull Professors
Rutgers University (New Brunswick, NJ)$77,801$98,400$149,892
Arizona State University at Tempe$88,582$106,057$147,776
University of Connecticut (Storrs, CT)$82,552$100,853$147,066
George Mason University (Fairfax, VA)$79,921$92,789$138,420
University of Nevada at Reno$82,291$95,709$132,312
University of Colorado at Denver$88,902$99,327$132,131
Wayne State University (Detroit, MI)$83,628$99,148$131,562
North Carolina State University$82,271$94,434$128,640
University of Texas at Arlington$86,042$94,902$128,369
Georgia State University at Atlanta$75,727$81,577$119,620
University of Maryland, Baltimore County$77,385$88,809$119,332
State University of New York at Albany$73,964$89,867$118,123
Cleveland State University$82,463$85,373$111,160
Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo$86,117 $96,496 $110,529
University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee$73,652$79,966$103,750
Illinois State University (Normal, IL)$75,861$78,679$96,324

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Impact of the Plan

Importantly, our initial projections show 60% of revenue dedicated to financial aid and scholarships. It is important to balance lowering the net cost of attendance for lower-income students with providing adequate funding for Cal Poly’s high investment comprehensive polytechnic (and statewide) mission. If, for example, we are not able to recruit and retain faculty and staff then the student experience will be diminished. We are confident that this plan will create greater access for all students to the excellent education we provide at Cal Poly.

As shown below, revenue increases steadily during the first few years as we phase in the fee increase through a cohort model. This process provides predictability and transparency for new students and for the campus. The result is that expenditures are divided into two primary areas:

  • Financial aid and scholarships
  • Academic mission

Funding is not sufficient to both close the financial aid gap with the UCs and enhance delivery of our comprehensive polytechnic mission. So, at least 60% of revenue will be used to provide financial aid and scholarship through the first four years. Additionally, an aggressive fundraising campaign will be initiated to further augment support for financial aid and scholarships for all students at Cal Poly.

The remainder of the funding (40%) will go towards the academic mission.

Revenue Generated for College Based Fee Breakdown by Distribution, Current Fee Pre-Implementation Only

2022-23 2023-24 2024-25 2025-26 2026-27
Total Revenue $4,282,603 $12,540,590 $24,182,711 $38,748,465 $52,515,146
Academic Mission 40% $1,713,041 $5,016,236 $9,673,084 $15,499,386 $21,006,058
Student Aid 60% $2,569,562 $7,524,356 $14,509,626 $23,249,079 $31,509,088

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The projected impact on net cost of attendance after aid by family income level is shown in the following graphs. These graphs show projected change in net cost of attendance with (bars representing cohorts) or without (solid line) implementing the increase in the CBF. Contributors to cost of attendance include tuition, fees, room & board, books and travel. For contributors other than tuition, costs increase each year due to cost-of-living adjustments, salary adjustments and cost of inputs (e.g. room and board). The various bars represent different cohorts following the implementation of the proposed plan. The difference between the line (status quo) and the bars represents the reduction ($150,000 parent income and below) or increase (>$150,000 parent income) in net cost of attendance.

Projected Net Cost of Attendance $0-$20,000 Parent Income

Cohort One Cohort Two Cohort Three Cohort Four Cohort Five Status Quo
2022-23 $13,752 $14,176
2023-24 $13,958 $13,958 $14,695
2024-25 $14,179 $14,179 $14,179 $15,268
2025-26 $14,365 $14,365 $14,365 $14,365 $15,900
2026-27 $14,565 $14,565 $14,565 $14,565 $14,565 $16,550

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Projected Net Cost of Attendance $20,001-$60,000 Parent Income

Cohort One Cohort Two Cohort Three Cohort Four Cohort Five Status Quo
2022-23 $14,978 $15,323
2023-24 $15,378 $15,378 $15,842
2024-25 $15,666 $15,666 $15,666 $16,415
2025-26 $15,952 $15,952 $15,952 $15,952 $17,047
2026-27 $16,319 $16,319 $16,319 $16,319 $16,319 $17,697

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Projected Net Cost of Attendance $60,001-$90,000 Parent Income

Cohort One Cohort Two Cohort Three Cohort Four Cohort Five Status Quo
2022-23 $22,642 $22,827
2023-24 $22,945 $22,945 $22,945 $23,346
2024-25 $23,254 $23,254 $23,254 $23,919
2025-26 $23,750 $23,750 $23,750 $23,750 $24,550
2026-27 $24,150 $24,150 $24,150 $24,150 $24,150 $25,201

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Projected Net Cost of Attendance $90,001-$120,000 Parent Income

Cohort One Cohort Two Cohort Three Cohort Four Cohort Five Status Quo
2022-23 $26,309 $26,414
2023-24 $26,696 $26,828 $26,933
2024-25 $27,117 $27,269 $27,401 $27,506
2025-26 $27,574 $27,749 $27,901 $28,033 $28,137
2026-27 $28,024 $28,225 $28,399 $28,551 $28,683 $28,788

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Projected Net Cost of Attendance $120,001-$150,000 Parent Income

Cohort One Cohort Two Cohort Three Cohort Four Cohort Five Status Quo
2022-23 $28,092 $28,117
2023-24 $28,491 $28,611 $28,635
2024-25 $28,926 $29,064 $29,184 $29,209
2025-26 $29,399 $29,558 $29,696 $29,816 $29,840
2026-27 $29,867 $30,049 $30,208 $30,346 $30,466 $30,491

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Projected Net Cost of Attendance Greater than $150,001 Parent Income

Cohort One Cohort Two Cohort Three Cohort Four Cohort Five Status Quo
2022-23 $30,139 $29,363
2023-24 $30,657 $31,433 $29,882
2024-25 $31,231 $32,006 $32,781 $30,455
2025-26 $31,862 $32,638 $33,413 $34,188 $31,087
2026-27 $32,513 $33,288 $34,063 $34,839 $35,236 $31,737

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