Regents review Governor Newsom’s 2023-24 January budget proposal
Members of the Finance and Capital Strategies Committee reviewed updates to the final 2023-24 state budget during the UC Regents July 19 meeting. The budget — a total of $310.8 billion — will provide over $215 million to the UC system.
Upon the signing of Senate Bill 101 and Assembly Bill 102 on June 27 and July 10, respectively, the state budget of 2023-24 provides funding to allow the UC to significantly increase its California resident undergraduate enrollment in 2023-24, expand services to students and cover operation costs included in the UC budget plan for the upcoming academic year. Such new funding includes a 7.5% increase in new ongoing support from the 2022-23 academic year and one-time funding of $142.5 million to support UC programs.
In total, the final state budget accumulates to $310.8 billion, maintaining investments in public education, health care, climate and public safety.
Associate Vice President David Alcocer outlined the various inclusions and exclusions of the budget plan for the 2023-24 academic year for ongoing support and one-time funding.
“Most of that amount — just over $215 million — is provided as a 5% increase to the university’s permanent state appropriation,” Alcocer said. “That’s consistent with the compact, and it’s essential to cover a portion of the cost increases that we expect next year, including costs associated with enrollment growth.”
These considerations for 2024-25 are categorized into the multi-year compact with Governor Gavin Newsom and the need for additional capital investments. The compact suggests that Newsom proposing a 5% budget adjustment annually through 2026-27 should the UC grow the California resident undergraduate enrollment by 1% annually and increase graduate student enrollment and policy progress. The proposed additional capital investments would compensate for future enrollment growth.
Alcocer addressed Newsom’s proposal to defer a number of planned one-time funding investments by one year, saying this would maintain the $100 million in the current year but delay the other $100 million until 2023-24.
“The timing is adjusted due to the changed tangential circumstances that the state now finds itself in,” he said.
This would also result in three other one-time investments originally planned for 2023-24 to be delayed until 2024-25. Projects that would be impacted by this proposal are related to various clean energy and expansion initiatives at UC Los Angeles, UC Berkeley, UC Riverside and UC Merced.
This deferring strategy of investments would also impact two student housing-related programs.
One is a state-funded housing grant program, established in 2021-22 to subsidize new student housing costs with savings passed to students as lower rents, that will now receive its final $750 million of the total $2.2 billion investment over two years instead of one — meaning there is $500 million available in 2023-24 and $250 million deferred to 2024-25.
The other is a student housing revolving loan program that would lower capital costs for public institutions seeking housing expansions. Its planned $1.8 billion investment would be deferred to 2024-25 instead of 2023-24.
Alcocer assured that despite these deferrals, Newsom will fully fund the Cal Grant program and continue expanding the Middle Class Scholarship program.
“The administration has signaled its intent to provide the same aggregate funding for these programs which has previously been planned, which, from our perspective, is a very good thing,” Alcocer said.
Striking workers at UC-owned hotel advocate for better conditions
Members of the UNITE HERE Local 11 union — representing hospitality workers across southern California — spoke in favor of workers striking at the UC-owned Laguna Cliffs Marriott Resort & Spa at the Regents’ July 20 Board and Governance meeting.
UNITE HERE Local 11 authorized a strike on June 8, demanding a major wage increase to support the high cost of living for hotel workers. The Laguna Cliffs Marriott hotel is owned by the University of California pension fund, and union members took to the Regents’ meeting public comment period to advocate for the issue.
According to a statement from Local 11, the Laguna Cliffs hotel temporarily hired a number of Black workers through a third-party agency in response to the strike, though few Black workers exist on permanently hired, unionized staff.
“The UC should enshrine their commitment to the public good by negotiating a fair contract immediately, and hire the Black workers hired to break the strike as permanent union staff,” Local 11 community organizer Mary Entoma said.
Local 11 research analyst Jordan Fein said the union recently met with several Congress members to discuss the strike, who then wrote to the Board of Regents regarding practices at the Laguna Cliffs hotel. He shared some of the requests from the co-signed letter to the Regents.
“We would like answers to the following questions regarding hotel management’s approach to complying with federal statute and regulations regarding fair employment,” Fein said, reading the requests to the Regenst. “What steps is the UC’s operator Aimbridge Hospitality taking to negotiate and settle a fair contract? What steps will the hotel take to ensure permanent jobs to all African Americans who the hotel hired as temporary strike breakers?”
The lawmakers requested a response to the letter by July 31.
“It’s been three years since we had your support when these workers were just organizing their union,” Entoma said. “Now they are fighting for what they deserve, and we are demanding that we have your support once again.”
UCOP, NASFAA provide updates on improvements to financial aid letters
Representatives from the UC Office of the President and the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators presented to the Regents’ Academic and Student Affairs Committee on July 19 about the UC’s efforts to improve financial aid offer letters.
UC Office of the President (UCOP) Provost and Executive Vice President of Academic Affairs Kathryn Newman, alongside UCOP Executive Director of Student Financial Support Shawn Brick, outlined the improvements the UC has already made to financial aid letters.
These improvements have included updating and standardizing the language used in letters, such as replacing the phrase “room and board” with “housing and meals” for clarification.
“We can have the very best policies in the world and still fail to attract and retain low-income students if we don’t clearly communicate our policies to them,” Newman said.
Brick emphasized that while UC financial aid offer letters have been significantly streamlined, they do not yet align with national standards set by the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators (NASFAA) and other higher education associations.
NASFAA Vice President of Public Policy and Federal Relations Karen McCarthy spoke to the committee about what those national standards for financial aid letters look like and how the UC should adopt them.
McCarthy said that the national standards include providing clear and accurate information, remaining transparent and using standardized language, among other principles.
“The primary emphasis here is on the understandability, accuracy [and] consumer-friendliness for students and families,” McCarthy said.
Regents receive Student Academic Preparation and Educational Partnerships new ongoing funding update
Members of the Academic and Student Affairs Committee were updated on new ongoing funding for Student Academic Preparation and Educational Partnerships, focusing on transfer student support, at the July 19 UC Regents meeting.
The 2022-23 Budget Act allotted $22.5 million to Student Academic Preparation and Educational Partnerships (SAPEP) funding. This, combined with ongoing SAPEP funding, provides a budget of $47 million to be allocated toward academic preparation, educational partnerships and enrichment programs at the K-12 and undergraduate levels.
Vice President for Graduate and Undergraduate Affairs and Vice Provost for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Yvette Gullatt detailed the SAPEP mission to reduce learning gaps in California’s education system. Their mission ranges from providing students at the preschool level with a more diverse selection of online courses through the UC Scout program to offer undergraduate students degree and transfer preparation support.
“SAPEP programs are critical for enhancing representation at UC for students who are low income, first generation and/or from underrepresented groups,” Gullatt said during the July 19 UC Regents meeting.
SAPEP currently focuses on 69 community colleges throughout California in which students who participate in SAPEP programs see an 18% higher admission rate to the UCs than students who do not participate in SAPEP programs. Their goal by 2025 is to see a 35% increase in the number of participating public colleges and a 50% increase in California public 9-12 schools.
SAPEP is dedicated to restoring the educational environment and opportunities that were disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic, which particularly impacted lower-income students of California. Gullatt said their goal is to bring back previously cut enrichment programs and reverse students’s unfinished learning with an emphasis on experimentation and individual talents.
“We bring different kinds of learning — experiments, project based learning, academic enrichment — so that students are able to show their talents and express their talents in so many different ways,” Gullatt said.
SAPEP’s growth initiatives include summer programs, internships and campus visitation opportunities. Gullatt also brought attention to newly implemented peer advising programs which have proven to be successful.
“Sometimes our students are more effective than professional staff at reaching students,” Gullatt said. “Some of our experiments include Riverside and Santa Barbara experimenting with near-peer advising initiatives to better understand and potentially scale the role that neer-peer engagement plays in promoting academic preparation and transfer going behaviors.”