Because of deep cuts to the state budget, Cal State University students saw their fees jump twice this year, up 32 percent -- causing some to barely hang on.
"I didn't buy my books this semester; none of them because they were so expensive. I just borrow them, make copies," said Cal State student Diana Martinez.
But a third tuition hike in one year is an option the chancellor is considering unless Governor Schwarzenegger and lawmakers give him the nearly $900 million he's requesting.
"We will have to evaluate this request based upon resources we have available, the other competing priorities in the budget and the size of the budget problem it has to solve," said H.D. Palmer from the California Department of Finance.
In other words, fat chance. On Tuesday, the governor estimated the budget deficit to be $14.5 billion over 18 months, making that third fee hike a very real possibility next spring.
"Maybe take a year off because I right now can't afford this situation. I can't afford school," said CSU student Lourdes Loyola.
University and mandatory fees have gone nowhere but up during this decade. In 2000, students paid just $1,800 a year. When Governor Schwarzenegger took office, it was up to nearly $2,600 and this year, without that third tuition increase, it's almost $5,000.
Fee hikes aren't the only answer to a tight budget. Enrollment limits are being implemented too, which means it's tougher to get into a CSU.
The chancellor says they'll accept 40,000 fewer students over the next two years at a time when the recession is pushing more people to further their education.
"I was really looking forward to going there, but now that I have seen the situation, my hopes are down," said CSU transfer hopeful Linda Yang.