UC Berkeley Summer Sessions considers $2.5M cut in financial aid

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With a mandate from the recently unveiled campus fiscal year 2018 budget to reduce spending by 3 percent among UC Berkeley Summer Sessions, UC Berkeley Study Abroad and the UC Berkeley Osher Lifelong Institute — or OLLI — academic division, Summer Sessions is considering, among other measures, cutting $2.5 million in financial aid, exploring the development of additional minors and expanding the campus’s programming associated with pre-collegiate and international students.

The campus’s finalized 2018 budget calls for more than $20 million in cuts to academic, research and administrative division expenses to meet a goal of reducing the campus’s $110 million structural deficit by about $53 million over the next fiscal year.

As part of last week’s announcement by the campus of its fiscal year 2018 budget, the Office of the Vice Chancellor, Chief Financial Officer provided draft “divisional dashboards” that contain “key financial information for each school, college and auxiliary unit” within a number of campus divisions.

The campus’s finalized fiscal year 2018 budget called on Summer Sessions, Study Abroad and OLLI academic division to reach a budget improvement target of $785,000 through a combination of cuts or increased revenues.

“We’re going to hold people accountable to their targets,” said Vice Chancellor and Chief Financial Officer Rosemarie Rae in a Friday sit-down with The Daily Californian.

The elimination of $2.5 million in contributions to Summer Sessions financial aid “that are beyond the minimum required by UCOP regulations … presents an opportunity to shore up the structural deficits within VCUE (Vice Chancellor for Undergraduate Education),” according to the divisional budget dashboard.

UCOP, according to university spokesperson Ricardo Vazquez, sets a minimum level of 30 percent of summer session revenue that campuses must use for financial aid for state-supported undergraduates enrolled in summer.

Enrollment for Summer Sessions, which totals 16,000 students overall is currently up 6 percent for campus undergraduates compared to the same time last year, according to Campus Vice Chancellor and Chief Financial Officer Rosemarie Rae. “The hope is that enrollments will not drop” as a result of cuts to Summer Sessions aid, according to the Summer Sessions, Study Abroad and OLLI dashboard.

“Since Summer Sessions is still in session, final figures are not yet available and a final decision regarding financial aid has not yet been made,” Rae said in an email.

In addition to the proposed reduction in financial aid, the Summer Sessions, Study Abroad and OLLI dashboard considers additional programming options as new revenue streams for its division.

Study Abroad is holding “active conversations” with the Haas School of Business and the College of Engineering to expand UC Berkeley Global Edge — a study-abroad program for incoming freshmen — in summer and fall 2018, according to the Summer Sessions, Study Abroad and OLLI dashboard. The dashboard also proposes growing departmental offerings of summer minors and developing additional minor programs in 2018, which could provide $500,000 in additional revenue for the division.

In a June sit-down with The Daily Californian, Chancellor Carol Christ cited UC Berkeley Summer Sessions as one of the campus’s “main sources of increased revenues.”

“I define myself as a chancellor at a very, very critical moment in Berkeley’s history, a moment in which we have to change the financial model for the Campus,” Christ said in the sit-down. “We also are as opposed to the across the board approach that we had last year.”

Rae said campus administration will perform quarterly reviews with academic divisions as “part of an ongoing dialogue” to review the divisions’ progress in meeting campus budget improvement targets.

Rae added that campus will examine “leading or lagging indicators” — such as student enrollment — within divisions for administrators to make “corrective actions” as quickly as possible for instances in which actual divisional revenues do not meet projected targets.

“The divisional dashboards facilitate conversation as divisions review opportunities, discuss strategic trade-offs, and consider multiple revenue sources to support the academic mission,” Rae said in an email. “Each division’s priorities may shift as strategies are re-aligned.”

Bobby Lee is an assistant news editor. Contact Bobby Lee at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter at @bobbylee_dc.