The University of California Board of Regents convened for their September 21 meeting at UC San Diego; discussing federal loan forgiveness, a new dual admissions program, UC military equipment and transfer student reports, among other topics.
Student loan forgiveness and federal funding
Federal Governmental Relations Associate Vice President Chris Harrington lauded President Biden’s recent student loan forgiveness announcement, which aims to forgive up to $10,000 of student debt per borrower, during the public engagement and development committee.
Approximately 61,000 current UC students are expected to benefit from the student relief program per University of California Office of the President (UCOP) estimates, expecting the relief for current UC students to total up to $513 million, according to Harrington.
Additionally, nearly 200,000 former UC students are expected to receive some level of debt forgiveness, totaling up to $2.4 billion — though the estimates may run high, Harrington said, as UCOP lacks exact data of the extent to which alumni have repaid their loans.
“Our currently enrolled students are well positioned to take advantage of this benefit, since their FAFSA is on file with the department,” Harrington said. “We’ll be monitoring this closely and working with our financial aid colleagues across the system to ensure that students see their debts forgiven.”
Completion of the annual federal appropriations process, which is set to provide more than $12 billion to the UC, has not been completed with only 10 days until the fiscal year’s end.
“Unfortunately, we are less than 10 days away from the end of the federal fiscal year on October 1st, and while the House and Senate have taken some action on their respective bills, none of the individual appropriations bills have been signed into law,” Harrington said. “We expect short term spending bills over the course of the fall to get us through and keep the government operational.”
New dual admissions program
The University of California discussed debuting a new dual admissions pilot program, offering some students ineligible for full admission a conditional three-year admissions offer if they complete their first year of studies at a California community college.
The pilot program will go into effect for admissions in the 2023-24 academic year through the 2025-26 academic year, providing resources until the last students in the cohort are prepared to transfer.
The new admissions program aims to increase UC access “for prospective underrepresented students experiencing limitations in high school curriculum offered, geographical constraints, or financial challenges,” according to the executive summary.
Currently, the UC employs a dual admissions program for California high school students who fall in the top 12.5% of their graduating class — a metric of guaranteed acceptance to at least one UC campus — but do not meet the grade point average (GPA) and overall requirements for admission. These students may simultaneously apply to a California community college and for conditional admission to a UC campus.
The new dual admissions program, however, will target students who were fully ineligible for admission. Over 50% of ineligible applicants from recent admissions cycles with over a 3.0 GPA were members of an underrepresented community, including low-income and first-generation students, the executive summary stated.
The program will utilize current resources for students at California community colleges, which currently provides the “opportunity to obtain a conditional guarantee to a selected campus and major [and] to prepare academically for campuses that currently do not offer a guarantee,” according to the executive summary.
Provost and executive vice president of student affairs Michael Brown discussed some of the potential challenges of the pilot program at the Regents’ academic and student affairs committee, contemplating what he referred to as “the challenge of coordination” for the program.
“We have 116 California community colleges and nine undergraduate UC college campuses,” he said. “If we really want to attain greater regional equity, we’ve got to reach beyond the nine community colleges that essentially constitute about 40-50% of our enrollment. That takes outreach and coordination, and all these community colleges require something different from the UC.”
“I think it’s important for the future of California that we be more regionally inclusive,” he continued.
Compliance with State Assembly Bill 481
The Regents discussed compliance with State Assembly Bill 481 — a bill that requires increased transparency with usage of police equipment — and approved a military equipment use policy and list of UC military equipment.
The compliance and approval process commenced in April 2022 and includes measures such as an extensive list of military equipment at each campus, a draft military equipment use policy and approval of the draft policy by a governing body. Additionally, a report on use of equipment will be annually presented to the Regents for approval, and each campus will hold at least one community engagement meeting timed at the release of the report.
“Looking ahead, the annual process of community and Regent engagement is critical to UC efforts for continuous improvement for public safety,” said UC Director of Community Safety Jody Stiger.
Stiger said compliance with AB 481 is linked with the Community Safety Plan, a system-wide plan that is implementing changes in policing and tiered response, that adheres to the bill.
According to the agenda, each UC campus reviewed its military equipment and eliminated equipment that was outdated or had replacements considered to be more cost effective. Some eliminated equipment included hand-thrown chemical agent canisters and less-lethal 40mm impact munitions to replace 12-gauge less-lethal bean bag launchers.
In response to questions on equipment usage, UC Chief of Police Joseph Farrow said that the equipment currently cannot be used without training, even with approval of the policy.
“We cannot operate any equipment we have without a policy, procedure and training,” Farrow said.
The meeting concluded with a passed vote of approval on the military equipment policy and list of military equipment.
State Governmental Relations update
Associate Vice President for State Governmental Relations Kieran Flaherty provided updates on key legislation that was reviewed in the 2021-22 legislative session during the Public Engagement and Development Committee.
With the state legislature being in recess after finishing the second year of the 2021-22 Legislative session on Aug. 31, the deadline to take action on the legislation from the governor is Sept. 30.
This year, State Government Relations reviewed approximately 2,400 introductory bills and 3,900 amended bills to assess which legislation would significantly impact the University.
The following bills were assessed to have significant impact, among them bills the University-sponsored and Women’s Reproductive Health Legislation that the University supported. Flaherty requested signatures from Governor Gavin Newsom for all of the following legislation.
The University-sponsored legislation — all of which were passed by the California legislature — are SB 883, SB 912, SB 960 and SB 1299. SB 883 extends the date of completion on UC Davis Health’s Umbilical Cord Blood Collection Program from Jan. 1, 2023, to Jan. 1, 2027; SB 912 requires a health care service plan contract to cover biomarker testing and expands the Medi-Cal schedule of benefits to include this coverage; SB 960 eliminates the citizenship requirement to serve as a peace officer in California; and SB 1299 extends the date of completion for the University-operated California State Summer School for Mathematics program until Jan. 1, 2028.
The Women’s Reproductive Health legislation that the University supported — all of which were passed by the legislature — are AB 2091, AB 2223, AB 2626 and SB 1375. AB 2091 prohibits health care providers, health care service plan, prison staff contractors or employers from releasing medical information regarding abortions; AB 2223 prohibits civil or criminal liability on actions omissions regarding pregnancies; AB 2626 prohibits California’s healthcare licensing boards from denying or imposing discipline on a California licensee for performing abortions; SB 1375 expands training options for nurse practitioners and certified nurse midwives to perform abortions; and AB 1242 prohibits peace officers from arresting individuals for performing or helping the process of a lawful abortion.
“[We’re] very pleased to be requesting signatures on these bills, and feeling enthusiastic that hopefully we may have these approved,” Flaherty said.
Transfer Task Force presents final report, makes recommendations to Regents
The Transfer Task Force submitted its final report to the UCOP [date submitted?], including transfer student data and eight actionable recommendations aimed at closing equity gaps, increasing educational access and bolstering degree completion rates.
The UC heavily relies on its California Community College (CCC) to UC transfer pathway. Ninety-four percent of transfer students enrolled at a UC come from a CCC, with a roughly 75% acceptance rate for these students to a UC.
The task force formed in 2018 after the signing of the Enhancing Student Transfer — a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the CCC and the University of California.
The report compiles data including the number of transfers, majors, accumulated units, time-to-degree and student demographics.
“The MOU’s overarching intention is to initiate a collaborative effort to guarantee admission to all qualifying CCC transfer students to UC, and, in doing so, to increase inclusive access to a four-year degree program at UC for CCC students,” the report stated.
The report evaluated the successfulness of MOU in achieving six goal areas: guaranteeing UC admission to all qualified CCC students; advancing academic preparation for transfer students; highlighting access and affordability; serving the professionals who serve students; coordinating transfer policy; and building a transfer-affirming culture and research agenda.
The task force described itself as “satisfied” with the gains the UC has made toward tangibly improving the transfer student experience over the last four years and moved forward with its joint UC and CCC recommendations to UCOP.
“The end of the MOU presents an opportunity for a thoughtful examination of what actions UC and the CCCs can take to improve and strengthen California’s transfer pipeline,” the report stated. “Enhancing transfer opportunity is a shared aim of all three California public postsecondary institutions so that more students have the opportunity to complete bachelor’s degrees to meet the state’s workforce demands and achieve economic mobility.”
Among the recommendations are to increase the number of students who meet UC transfer admission requirements and increase the percentage of CCC applicants who enroll at UCs.
The task force also recommended the streamlining of lower-division general education transfer requirements and creating and promoting new financial resources for transfer students through scholarships, financial literacy education and cross-enrollment opportunities.
In addition, the task force called for improving articulation of major preparation courses between CCC and UC by addressing challenges relating to specific courses and evaluating the requirements of Transfer Admission Guarantee (T.A.G.) and other programs.
Looking forward, the task force recommended that UCOP establish a new MOU so that a next phase of objectives can be outlined in order to continually support transfer students and expand equitable transfer outcomes.