In order to pay their share of UC financial aid support, UCSB students will soon have to choose between completely cutting student lock-in fees or raising each one’s cost.
Students currently pay several per-student, per-quarter lock-in fees, such as the $3.33 per quarter lock-in fee for night and weekend parking or the $.75 per quarter lock-in fee to the MultiCultural Center. Because of state funding cutbacks to the UC system, however, the university needs to take out at least 25 percent of each lock-in fee to pay for its financial aid program, said Bill McTague, resource planning director for the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs resource planning director.
UCSB has decided to take out 33 percent of each lock-in to pay for its financial aid, McTague said.
As a result, students will decide in this spring’s campus-wide elections whether to increase the cost of lock-in fees that are up for reaffirmation, in order to maintain the amount of money each organization currently receives. While only four lock-in fees are up for reaffirmation this year, over the next four years all lock-in fees will be up for reaffirmation – and subject to the fee increase.
Campus Elections Committee (CEC) Chair Komal Mehta said the central UC office will continue to pay for the money owed to UCSB financial aid from the remaining lock-in fees not yet reaffirmed.
As an example of how the proposed reaffirmation process will work, if an organization currently receives a $3 lock-in fee, a “yes” vote on the ballot would multiply the fee by 1.5 times. Of the total new amount – $4.50 – the university would take 33 percent, leaving the group with its original $3. The extra $1.50 taken by the university would go to financial aid funds at UCSB.
However, if 65 percent of student voters plus one decide not to reaffirm a lock-in fee, it will cease to exist entirely.
The Intercollegiate Athletics (ICA) Scholarship per-quarter lock-in fee, the UCen Operations lock-in fee, the Recreational Sports lock-in fee and the MultiCultural Center lock-in fee are up for reaffirmation this year, Mehta said.
If reaffirmed, for example, the $9 per-student, per-quarter ICA Scholarship – excluding summer session – would increase to $13.50 per quarter. Because 33 percent goes toward financial aid, the University would take $4.50, leaving the scholarship with its original $9 per student.
McTague said the proposed surcharges cover the cost of the UC system’s “return to aid” program, in which 33 percent of student fees will be put toward paying qualified students’ financial aid.
Up until this year, the state budget has provided the necessary funds to pay for financial aid, McTague said. However, with state cuts, the UC Regents voted in November that campuses must take it upon themselves to provide the money.
The Regents mandated that at least 25 percent of the money received from student lock-in fees go toward return to aid.
On Monday, UCSB students, faculty and staff on the CEC discussed how they would present the surcharge on the spring elections ballot to students. Mehta, a fourth-year global studies major, said students will find the proposal disconcerting.
“There’s going to be a wide backlash to this,” Mehta said. “Groups are going to think that they are losing money.”
However, McTague said he believes the current solution of raising the lock-in fees will satisfy most students, while following the rules set by UC.
“The policy of many students has always been to fully fund financial aid,” McTague said. “We’re not doing anything the students don’t want us to do. … The Regents also mandated this. We’re just doing what the Regents said to do.”
McTague said each UC campus will decide what percent of their lock-in fees will go toward their own financial aid programs.
Physical Activities & Recreation Assistant Director Judith Dale said the spring ballot should make it clear to students that the return to aid surcharge will only apply to UCSB and not go towards other UC schools.
“We need to tell the students that the money that is raised at UCSB stays at UCSB,” Dale said. “I think that is a lot more palpable to explain that than to say it’s [going] to the black hole.”
Dale said she disapproves of increasing the lock-in fee amounts as opposed to charging 33 percent from the existing lock-in fees.
“I was a ‘return to aid’ kid,” Dale said. “I think it’s an absolute travesty to say that it’s one-third. It looks like fifty percent. I just feel it’s duplistic and not honest.”
A.S. Executive Director Don Daves-Rougeaux said he believes the university is re-calculating the student lock-in fees in an effort to ensure return to aid to its students, as well as funding for its various departments.
“I think the issue is for pre-existing fees that are subject to reaffirmation – [the university] wants to maintain the current level of resources,” Daves-Rougeaux said. “In order to do that, you have to create a formula. You have to add 50 percent to that in order for return to aid to be at one-third … otherwise there would be a cut. This is done in order to protect the integrity of the original fees.”
A.S. Internal Vice President Adam Graff said the amounts still seem unfair because the university is requiring all of its students to pay for return to aid.
“It seems to me that they are raising the fees on everybody, and the students in financial aid also have to pay those same fees,” Graff said. “Unless they are charging different fees for students who are not on financial aid from students who are on financial aid, I don’t see how it works. I don’t see where the extra money comes in.”