With over $380,000 of state funding cut from its budget over the last three years, Counseling & Career Services (C&CS) is looking at instituting a lock-in fee of $5.85 per quarter per student for the first time this spring.

Micael Kemp, an associate director of career services, said C&CS survived a $233,000 cut in the 2003-04 school year and a $150,000 cut this school year by firing 12 staff members and instituting a $7.50 fee for career workshops. Kemp said an additional two psychologists and two career counselors would be let go if the new student lock-in fee is not approved, and C&CS may begin charging for therapy and career testing. He said the center might be forced to send students off campus for services.

According to the proposed shared budget for C&CS, the $5.85 fee would cover 17 percent of C&CS’ annual budget, with state funds providing 65 percent of its income, the remaining funds coming from employer fees, student fees and donations.

Jane Carlisle, another associate director of counseling services, said C&CS has consistently offered free personal and career counseling to both undergraduates and graduate students, while other campuses charge fees and have wait lists of 100 to 200 students.

“A counseling issue has a certain kind of importance that you just shouldn’t charge for,” Carlisle said. “We have always had this position that we would never charge, but now we’re just faced with this drastic situation.”

Kemp said the staff is currently working on getting the 2,700 undergraduate signatures they need by Jan. 31, the deadline to get the fee referendum on the ballot for spring elections. If the lock-in fee appears on the ballot, 50 percent of the UCSB student population plus one most approve of the initiative for it to pass. Most students have responded positively, Kemp said, and C&CS has collected more than 2,500 signatures as of Tuesday.

“It’s making us feel appreciated that they value what we do,” Kemp said. “That’s why we’re here … to help students.”

Kemp said C&CS offers hundreds of hours of free personal counseling to students with qualified psychologists. Drop-in services are also available every day to students who need help choosing a major or finding the right career. Kemp said C&CS is invaluable to any UC student.

“We’re a research institution,” Kemp said. “The applied side is generally missing, and that’s where Counseling & Career Services comes in.”

Becky Johnson, a career peer at C&CS, said in addition to career fairs, workshops help all career-minded students find internships, hone their interviewing skills, perfect their resumes, find the right graduate school or get employment straight out of college. Johnson said she believes they are one of the most important student services on campus.

“You can’t get that type of expert knowledge from any one source,” she said. “You need a facility like Counseling & Career Services to give students the edge they need to compete in today’s ever-changing market.”

Though the C&CS has been putting aside money in a savings account over the years, Kemp said those funds would run out after this school year. Carlisle said there will not be the same level of counseling and workshops if C&CS cannot pay its staff’s salaries.

The fee is relatively small considering all C&CS offers students, Kemp said.

“For just a cup of coffee and a muffin from Starbucks, you can keep all these great services,” he said.