Registration Fees Pulled from Student Services

Over $1 million in student registration fees have been reallocated from student services to compensate a campus funding shortfall of $84.2 million. An additional $2.5 million has been set aside in anticipation of future funding cuts.

Each UCSD student currently pays $900 in annual registration fees — funds intended for a variety of student service programs, ranging from counseling and psychological services to the Career Services Center and campus sports facilities.

However, due to cutbacks in state funding, the Office of the Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs is now channeling $1,316,672 — or 8 percent of the $19 million total registration-fee budget — toward other areas such as the Registrar’s Office, the Office of Admissions, classroom maintenence, staff salaries and equipment.

Last year, the Registration Fee Advisory Committee released a report recommending where registration fees should be reallocated.

“[In] normal years we go through and we decide what we want to allocate for new programs and initiatives, but this past year was essentially a unique one,” former committee chair and graduate student Garo Bournoutian said.

Since July, the Vice Chancellor departments have reduced their operating budgets to remedy the $84.2 million budget cuts. The changes amount to roughly $20 million in cuts, while the newly implemented faculty furlough plan will save an additional $75 million.

The remaining gap of about $40 million was filled by a loan from internal funds, Assistant Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs Ed Spriggs said.

The Office of the Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs determined the final registration-fee budget and allocations, using the committee’s report as a guide.

“Because we’re trying to protect the academic mission, all of the vice-chancellor offices contributed,” Spriggs said. “The reg. fee committee’s recommendation is the best evidence of what is important to students, so that of course gets a lot of weight.”

Programs that suffered the largest cuts included intercollegiate athletics, which lost $139,314 — or 15 percent — of its registration fee funding. Career services and sports facilities lost 10 percent each — or $107,219 and $40,245, respectively.

The committee said these departments would have sufficient funds to fall back on, while still being able to maintain services because they do not rely heavily on support from registration fees.

“We didn’t know what the final numbers were going to be from the [UC] Office of the President, so we went through everything and just prioritized it from highest to lowest,” Bournoutian said. “That way we would have information to make informed decisions on what we think are the services that would really impact the students the most.”

The committee chose to vary the level of cuts by program rather than simply cutting all programs evenly across the board.

“We looked at everything to see what was the highest priority based on number of students served, other funding sources, basically its relationship with the mission of the university, whether or not other programs exist on campus that can serve those same needs,” Bournoutian said. “We try to preserve those things that only exist with that registration fee funding.”

Next year, the campus expects to face similar cuts, leaving the committee in a similar position.

“More cuts are going to be coming down the pipeline next year,” Committee Chair Erik Van Esselsytn said. “We’re going to have to do the same sort of priority list for those as well.”

On Oct. 23, UC President Mark G. Yudof officially announced a proposal to raise student fees 32 percent by Fall Quarter 2010.

“In the next couple years, all the fees are going to go up by a substantial amount,” Van Esselsytn said. “The cuts coming through the state are huge, and they’re not expected to let up anytime in the next two years. Really the only way to make up lack of funds is to raise fees.”

He said the Registration Fee Advisory Committee will aim to protect valuable student services despite the reductions.

“For the benefit of all students, I think the [registration] fees should only be used for things related to student life,” Van Esselsytn said. “One of the dangers is that the UC system as a whole in raising its fees is going to start to use the registration fees to cover the stuff that has lost funding because of the state cuts. I don’t agree with that, but that’s not to say it’s not going to go happen. It’s not within a single committee on one campus’ power to keep that from happening.”

Readers can contact Ayelet Bitton at [email protected].

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