A bookkeeping error cut money from some student retention programs earlier this year because they were mistakenly classified under outreach services, but the retention efforts will not be reimbursed by the recent agreement between the governor and the president of the University of California.
The Summer Transition Enrichment Program (STEP), coordinated by the Educational Opportunity Program (EOP) office, helps students from disadvantaged families adjust to university life, Student Academic Support Services Executive Director Yolanda Garcia said. Although STEP is not an outreach program, but rather a student retention program, its account was incorrectly labeled as an outreach program.
Retention programs help students already enrolled in the university to satisfy graduation requirements through course counseling and social programming. Outreach programs attempt to bring in students from high school who may not consider higher education be higher education an option.
As a result of the misclassification, STEP’s budget was cut by 50 percent at the beginning of this year.
It is unclear how the error occurred, Garcia said, but STEP was not the only program to be hurt by the mistake, and the recent agreement between Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and UC President Richard Dynes will only restore some money to outreach programs.
“This cutback should not have happened,” Garcia said. “There was not malfeasance about it though.”
Assistant Chancellor of the Office of Budget and Planning Todd Lee said the error has been corrected and the tie between outreach services and STEP was severed except for the funding cut that the program suffered initially due to the mix-up. Using sources other than state funding, the campuswide budgeting office is working to help programs whose budgets were accidentally cut because they were incorrectly classified.
“Were trying to soften the blow all around,” Lee said. “There are other programs that were affected besides STEP.”
The mistake was discovered last summer during the first day of classes during summer session, Garcia said. Instructors scrambled to work with a budget that had been cut by more than half and tried to save money for the next year.
Pete Villarreal, EOP executive director, said STEP would continue to function. EOP used rollover money from previous years to make sure important programs such as STEP could continue functioning despite heavy budget losses.
Villarreal also said that while there is no change in the number of students attending STEP for this year, in the future the amount of spaces offered would directly relate to the available budget.
“We are working on a development plan to try to make the program whole again,” Garcia said.