UCSB Financial Transparency Act

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UCSB Financial Transparency Act  



INTRODUCTION
Rising tuition costs for public education is a growing concern that has transcended its way to become a major political and national topic of discussion and debate. For us, as students, I believe it's vital we be informed about and involved with how our tuition and “student services fees” are being allocated. I’ve structured this petition in an effort to clearly and honestly represent not only my (as well as my petition’s supporters’) views and goals, but also to unbiasedly represent our (UC and UCSB) administrations’ willingness and efforts towards financial disclosure.  With this in mind, I welcome any participation, recommendations, or any other dialogue to further support the effort of the petition as well as my mission to objectively and comprehensively reflect our current situation.

STUDENTS’ REQUESTS TO INCREASE TRANSPARENCY, ACCOUNTABILITY, AND STUDENT PARTICIPATION.

These goals are presented (likely without the necessary policy vernacular and/or structure) in an effort to provide consolidated, understandable, and simplified versions of steps we believe necessary to increase financial transparency within our public institution. While these are our current requests, we welcome dialogue with the administration to reform these requests in order to work together to achieve our goals to increase transparency, accountability, and student participation.

 

Request 1.) Have the UCSB Office of Budget and Planning (in conjunction with any other UCSB and/or UCOP department) develop a projected budget for each quarter. This budget should have a percentage and numerical breakdown of how students’ mandatory fees (Student Services Fees and Tuition) are being allocated. Additionally, we desire that each category projected to receive funds from mandatory student fees have a 2-3 sentence description of what specific elements within them the funds will improve and/or sustain.
Request 2.) With all of the same structural elements as the projected budget, we ask for there to be a second and final budget at the conclusion of each quarter. In addition to all of the same qualifying and necessary elements listed in the first request, we ask that this budget also numerically demonstrate any discrepancies between the projected and the actual budget as well as a descriptive reason why each discrepancy took place.

Request 3.) We ask for there to be an avenue in which students can requests more details, give their opinion, or simply create dialogue with the administration about the allocation of their fees.

Request 4.) We ask that Chancellor Yang (and any Chancellor to follow) signs/certifies the legitimacy of each quarterly projected and actual budget as a mark of his approval and their accuracy.

Request 5.) We ask that these budgets be clearly displayed and easily accessible online for all students to access.

 

 

COSTS

In an effort to minimize confusion and narrow our focus on what’s most important and widely applicable to the whole student body, I will focus my cost analysis around tuition, student services fees, and campus based fees. I will use figures from 2016-2017 since these are the most current and available figures.

https://www.finaid.ucsb.edu/cost-of-attendance/Index :

Undergraduate Tuition: $12,294

Undergraduate Non-Resident Tuition Fee: $26,682
Campus Based Fees: $1,779
http://registrar.sa.ucsb.edu/RegForms/Fees_2016-17.pdf :

The above figures for tuition include the $1,074 of student services fees.

 

 

 

 

 

CURRENTLY AVAILABLE TRANSPARENCY

1.)  Campus Based Fees

http://registrar.sa.ucsb.edu/RegForms/Fees_2016-17.pdf

This PDF gives a quarterly breakdown of how our campus based fees are allocated. While this list is comprehensive, the fees and allocation are “subject to change”. It is also important to understand that campus based fees (unlike tuition and student services fees) are not mandatory and the expenditures are “initiated or modified by student referendum” and so this disclosure doesn’t provide insight as to how our administration spends our mandatory and campus wide fees.
http://policy.ucop.edu/doc/2710528/PACAOS-80
This site provides the academic legislation regarding policies for campus based fees and is provided by UCOP not UCSB directly.

2.)  Tuition:

http://regents.universityofcalifornia.edu/governance/policies/3101.html
This site, also provided by UCOP not UCSB directly, broadly describes why we have tuition and even more broadly describes what tuition is used for: “Tuition may be used for general support of the University's operating budget. Revenue from Tuition may be used to fund all costs related to instruction, including faculty salaries.”.
http://bap.ucsb.edu/budget/permanent.budget/2016.17.subaccount.and.fund.group.permanent.budget.pdf
http://bap.ucsb.edu/budget/permanent.budget/2016.17.function.and.fund.group.permanent.budget.pdf

These two sites provide a permanent budget by subaccount/function and fund category (as of July 1st 2016). They give some insight as to how some student service and tuition fees (although they make no distinction between them) are spent. That being said, it gives broad allocation categories such as “special items” and “general assistance” and it is far from comprehensive or truly informative.

http://bap.ucsb.edu/budget/budget.manual.pdf
This is a basic manual to the budget but again gives no insight as to how the money is being allocated.

http://www.ucop.edu/operating-budget/_files/rbudget/2016-17budgetforcurrentoperations.pdf
This is the 236 page “Budget for Current Operations” for 2016/2017. As you can imagine there is more detail within this breakdown, but still does not give a percentage breakdown of how tuition is spent at UCSB (as this is a UCOP document).

 

3.)  Student Services Fees

http://regents.universityofcalifornia.edu/governance/policies/3101.html
This site, also provided by UCOP not UCSB directly, broadly describes the policy procedures around student services fees. It also states the money is used for a variety of services and programs which is prefaced by “These services and programs include, but are not limited to...”. While better than nothing, it admits to not being a comprehensive list, it absolves any obligation for the administration to inform students if their money is being spent on other services, it also gives no insight as to how much money is being given to each of the listed services. http://www.sa.ucsb.edu/parents/StudentServices.aspx

This site provides a list of student services at UCSB (each with a description) but has no financial disclosure whatsoever.
http://bap.ucsb.edu/budget/permanent.budget/2016.17.subaccount.and.fund.group.permanent.budget.pdf
http://bap.ucsb.edu/budget/permanent.budget/2016.17.function.and.fund.group.permanent.budget.pdf

These two sites provide a permanent budget by subaccount/function and fund category (as of July 1st 2016). They give some insight as to how some student services and tuition fees (although they make no distinction between the two) are spent. That being said, it gives broad allocation categories such as “special items” and “general assistance”. It is far from comprehensive or truly informative.
http://bap.ucsb.edu/budget/budget.manual.pdf
This is a basic manual to the budget but again gives no insight as to how the money is being allocated.

 



 

CONCLUSION AND CALL FOR ACTION

 

Without this information, it is impossible to analyze, challenge, oversee, and/or improve our educational system's financial decisions. Financial transparency should not be withheld from the student body, but rather, it should be proudly, openly, and honestly displayed as evidence of our administration's desire (and in my mind obligation) to demonstrate their competency to handle and allocate our money for the betterment of us all. This, like any form of financial transparency, is a prerequisite platform for us all to be informed and most importantly to have a voice.

We, the students University of California Santa Barbara, stand united and resolute in our desire to increase financial transparency within our educational institution. Currently, we believe that the limited financial transparency between our public institution and the students/general public is not satisfactory. We stand together in our request for UC Santa Barbara to fully, honestly, and publicly disclose how our students’ tuition and campus fees are being spent. While we stand firm in our goal of and humble request for financial disclosure, we welcome conversation about this topic from any and all who wish to speak to us at ucsb.fta@gmail.com.



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