UC Regents Set To Discuss Financial Aid, Pension Funds

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Poised to discuss new financial initiatives and systemwide policies, the UC Regents will meet in San Francisco starting tomorrow.

Key agenda items will include the proposal for increased financial aid for lower-income students and reinstating employee contributions to the university's pension fund.

The regents will vote on UC President Mark Yudof's proposed Blue and Gold Opportunity Plan which, if passed, would waive UC tuition fees for California undergraduates from families making less than $60,000

annually. In total, the university estimated that 48,100 students will be eligible for the aid.

Student Regent D'Artagnan Scorza said he believed that the new aid proposal would increase accessiblity to the university, especially in light of the regents' decision to curtail enrollment by 2,300 for the coming school year.

"This new plan is going to improve some of the affordability aspects (for students) when they come to the UC," he said.

While Yudof said that student fees in general will likely increase next academic year, Scorza does not believe the systemwide increases will be officially addressed this week.

"One of the reasons why they're not on there yet because we just received the governor's budget ... There's so many budget calculations right now," Scorza said.

He said the issue would probably be voted on at the next meeting in March.

Also on the agenda is a proposal to reinstate employee contributions to the university retirement plan. The regents suspended contributions in the pension fund in 1990.

According to university documents, the pension fund has declined in the past eight years, especially last year, due to failing financial markets.

Unionized university employees are expected to protest at this week's meeting.

According to University Professional and Technical Employees member Paul Brooks, the contributions themselves are not the issue for workers.

"What we actually want is faculty and staff representation on the board as trustees," Brooks said, citing the protest's slogan: "no contributions without representation."

Employees also protested the management of the retirement fund at an earlier regents' meeting last November.

In the past week, the university has signed contract agreements with the union representing service workers and the California Nurses Association.

Although the U.S. House of Representatives passed an $819 billion stimulus package last Wednesday-including $142 billion allocated for education-Scorza says the university is not holding its breath for immediate aid.

"It will be a significant help if we have this funding through the stimulus package but I think we can't plan based on whether or not the stimulus package is going to come," he said.

Tags: UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA, UC REGENTS, BUDGET


Leslie Toy covers academics and administration. Contact her at [email protected]



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