ASUC scholarships, grant to offer students more financial opportunities

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Rising costs of higher education are an undeniable reality for UC Berkeley students, but measures recently announced by the ASUC may help lighten the burden.

The ASUC Office of the Academic Affairs Vice President has released two scholarship applications for the Textbook Scholarship Program and RISE, the Removing Impediments to Students’ Education scholarship. In addition, the office is implementing a new grant for the spring semester called the Arts and Creativity Fund, a revised iteration of a 2010 AAVP initiative.

The Textbook Scholarship Program passed through the ASUC Senate last year, but this is the first semester students can apply. The office plans to award about 40 $250 scholarships for students who intend to register for the summer and fall 2014 semesters. Scholarships will be awarded based not only on financial need, but campus involvement as well.

Academic Affairs Vice President Valerie Jameson worked last semester with Monica Ruiz, director of the textbook scholarship who helped author the bill last year, to garner more funding for the program so students from a broader variety of backgrounds could receive aid. Approximately $11,000 is allocated to this program, which includes contributions from the Berkeley Student Foundation, the ASUC and AAVP discretionary funds.

“It’s part of the ASUC’s job to provide as many resources as possible to students,” Ruiz said. “Everyone uses textbooks and other school supplies, so this is just one way to make school more affordable.”

Additionally, the office plans to award up to five RISE scholarships, each worth $1,000, for students who are not eligible for federal financial aid, such as undocumented students, although some can receive state aid under the California DREAM Act. The Berkeley Student Foundation is providing $5,000 to this program, and certain AAVP funds may be allocated to it as well, according to Elioth Gomez, a UC Berkeley sophomore and undocumented student who directs the program.

The office is also implementing its sixth grant, the Arts and Creativity Fund, directed toward students pursuing artistic and cultural endeavors on campus, which passed through the senate last week. The AAVP offers five other ASUC-funded grants each semester.

As she was “transitioning and reassessing the priorities of (the Office of Academic Affairs),” Jameson said she came across a 2010 initiative — originally proposed by previous CalSERVE AAVP Viola Tang — that outlined the arts fund, which Jameson then wrote into the AAVP bylaws with the help of Tom Lee, coordinator of the AAVP grants, and pitched to the senate.

“For me, the priority was to create something that would be sustainable and that would continue on,” Jameson said. “I saw this need and wanted to make sure we brought our attention back to exploring and increasing the artistic projects on campus.”

All applications can be found online. The deadlines for the Textbook Scholarship Program and RISE are March 21 and 22, respectively.

Contact Michelle Pitcher at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter @michellepitcher.