UC regents approve 2018–19 UCOP budget, discuss financial aid

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The UC Board of Regents took a “deep dive” into both the UC Office of the President, or UCOP, budget for fiscal year 2018–19 and undergraduate financial aid on Thursday, the final day of the regents meeting.

The proposed UCOP budget asks for $876.4 million — a $33 million reduction from the 2017-18 budget ask — from the UC’s overall $34 billion budget, according to Zoanne Nelson, UCOP associate vice president of strategy and program management. Additionally, the budget redirects $8.5 million from UCOP toward supporting enrollment growth, as per requests from the state legislature in AB 97, and accounts for all funding sources and uses.

“Our goal was to clarify and simplify operations of the office of the president and to make them more transparent, and I believe we have made great progress,” said UC President Janet Napolitano at the meeting.

According to Napolitano, by approving the budget, the regents would satisfy “a key condition” required to receive $50 million from the state, which was taken from the UC’s 2017–18 funding.

45 percent of the proposed budget would go toward systemwide programs and initiatives, such as research and diversity efforts. 43 percent would support other UC-wide services, such as academic affairs and finances, in addition to internal UCOP operations. 15 percent is allocated for UCPath, a centralized payroll system, and the remaining 3 percent goes toward the Strategic Priorities Fund, which supports one-time funds and urgent issues.

Additionally, UCOP will distribute fund balances — savings to be used for one-time funding projects — for 2018-19, allocating $40 million to campuses. According to Nelson, each campus will receive $3 million to address campus housing strategies.

“We are trying to build as many beds as possible, and we are well on our way towards getting to 19,000 beds in the next few years,” said UCOP Chief Financial Officer Nathan Brostrom at the meeting.

During the undergraduate financial aid discussion, Regent Eloy Ortiz Oakley, chancellor of the California Community Colleges, said the UC is not covering the needs of all low-income students. Oakley emphasized the fact that a student’s assumed “self-help” financial contribution is often not an accurate number, as students have to work to support their families in addition to their own education.

“That’s what it means to be a first-generation, low-income student in this state,” Oakley said at the meeting. “While the charts look neat and nice, those brackets mean real pain for a lot of people.”

Given that nonresident undergraduate students do not receive need-based financial aid, Regent Hadi Makarechian proposed creating a special fund to support the cost of attendance. The UCOP vice president for student affairs, Robin Holmes-Sullivan, said although the university is not allowed to grant these students aid, nonresident students are allowed to take advantage of programs such as campus food pantries.

Regent Sherry Lansing said the financial burden on the “underserved population” in California is enormous, especially on the middle class.

“Whereas I know the out-of-state students offer tremendous diversity, our first responsibility must be to the residents,” Lansing said at the meeting. “We’re covering tuition, but not the entire cost of going to university. … That has to be our first and second priority, then we can look at other things.”

Contact Revati Thatte and Francesca Munsayac at [email protected].