Beyond tuition at UCSB, a portion of each student’s fees also goes towards Associated Students each quarter.

Of the $5239.13 in fees paid every quarter by undergraduates, $237.29 goes to Associated Students (A.S.), a student-run organization funded by these fees. Established in 1961, A.S.’s mission is to provide leadership, employment, cultural and growth opportunities to serve the campus community. The three branches — Executive, Legislative and Judicial — within A.S. manage a yearly budget allocated to a wide-range of student-run organizations, programs and services. 

This A.S. fee is distributed among various entities. It directly funds A.S. departments such as the A.S. Bike Shop and the A.S. Food Bank. It also supports independent-run student organizations such as the Daily Nexus and campus-wide programs including CLAS and Arts & Lectures. 

Student Fee Graph

The quarterly A.S. student fee for a single person has increased over the past ten years, from around 180 to now over 230.
(Bowie Chuang / Daily Nexus)

According to the A.S. budget, the main factors in budget allocation are staff salaries, supplies and rentals/leases. These funds are essential for enabling campus organizations — especially new clubs — to provide services and assistance for UCSB students. 

Newly founded in 2022, Data Science Collaborative aims to make data science accessible to everyone on campus by offering one-on-one mentorships, foundational workshops and career check-ins. 

Anabelle Gutman — treasurer of UCSB Data Science Collaborative — highlighted the importance of securing funding from A.S. for their club in an email statement to the Nexus.

“We initially secured funding for our club by applying for the $250 Start Up Fund via the UCSB Associated Students Finance and Business Committee. We used careful analysis of student-traffic patterns to conduct our fundraisers, selling products such as branded stickers or homemade egg tarts during peak hours for maximum profitability,” Gutman said. 

Gutman describes what the budgeting process for the Data Science Collaborative looks like. 

“When budgeting we first focus on assessing the needs of the club by seeing which events require funding and which can be done using supplies we already have. We then look into how much money we have available and estimate the costs associated with each activity,” Gutman said. “In addition, we effectively support the next generation of staff by allocating enough funds for next year’s start-off expenditures, such as tabling to advocate for our organization and fundraising.”

The Data Science Collaborative keeps track of the funds for long term planning to maximize profit. This is done through a spreadsheet that keeps track of supplies, money spent and estimates of future expenditures, which allows room for any emergencies. Although the process may seem straightforward, Data Science Collaborative has experienced many challenges along the way. 

“We’ve struggled to obtain funding for our club because although we’ve reached out to numerous companies and organizations in hopes of building partnerships, we haven’t yet secured any. However, we efficiently overcome these barriers by constantly working together to think of new fundraiser events. Having group participation in the facilitation, execution and promotion of our events, spearheaded by our outreach team, ensures effective fundraising measures that maximize our impact on the community and financially,” Gutman said.

Despite some obstacles in receiving funding for the Data Science Collaborative through partnerships, the officers work together to create events for the community at UCSB as a way to fund the club. 

“We also love analyzing trends such as certain bakeries or restaurants that are currently popular. We communicate with our staff about whether they are interested in them and think they’ll be well received by the club members,” Gutman said.

While various campus clubs and organizations such as Data Science Collaborate draw resources from these funds, the allocation and decision-making regarding funding requests for each club are still controlled by the AS Financial & Business Committee (F&B). 

Valerie Tran, a third-year economics and accounting major and a financial officer at F&B, provided insights into the process of making such decisions, which occurs during the committee’s weekly meetings on Mondays. Budget meetings involve evaluating funding requests submitted by campus organizations. 

“They’ll come to our Monday meetings and just present their request, and our criteria for giving them funds is: 1) they’re a registered campus organization (RCO) for more than one academic quarter and 2) they don’t have any stipulations or guidelines for any forms of membership like it’s based on gender and a monetary stipulation to be in this organization,” Tran said. 

Tran added that the F&B Committee takes into account the diverse needs and interests of the student body when evaluating funding requests, aiming to support a wide range of programs and activities to enrich the campus community.

“We have a financial policy, and as long as any of the requests they make are within the guidelines of our financial policy, then they’re basically good to go … we normally try to directly fund undergraduate programs since the undergrads are paying this A.S. fee, so that’s one of the stipulations that we’ll look for is just serving undergrads the best way possible,” Tran said.

In addition to overseeing funding for clubs and organizations, F&B also works to propose budgets for various A.S. departments across campus.

“We directly work with trying to propose budgets for things like the Food Bank. A lot of the [boards, committees and units] that you see if you go to the A.S. office are one of the departments that we have. Anything A.S. touches is the budget we help control/propose for the next fiscal year,” Tran said.

Budget Graph

Total A.S. Budget has drastically increased over the past ten years, with the current 2023-2024 school year having a budget near $16 million. (Bowie Chuang / Daily Nexus)

As of this 2023-2024 school year, the overall A.S. budget has drastically increased over the past 10 years. This increase correlates with a larger student body — from around 19,500 in the 2014-15 school year to around 22,500 in the 2023-24 school year. The increase in budget has resulted in increased funding for various A.S. departments.

Crystal Bach, a fourth-year sociology major and the Administration Coordinator for the A.S. Food Bank said that additional funding has greatly enabled the Food Bank to expand its services and better support the student community.

“In the 23-24 school year, the A.S. Food Bank had a budget of $740,000. This sum grew from the 2022-2023 school year by approximately $200,000, from $520,000. The year prior to that, we received $430,000,” Bach said. 

“The Food Bank has steadily increased in funding over the past few years to fund our growing operations. Thanks to this increase in funding, we have been able to increase our reach by operating and funding special programs,” Bach said. 

Bach highlights the impact of A.S. funding and how it has helped foster student organizations and programs on the UCSB campus. 

“A.S. funds help us maintain our operations to serve our student population … we hope that highlighting these aspects of our organization creates a sense of ownership for all students and de-stigmatizes utilizing our services,” Bach said.