UC’s board of directors met on Tuesday to discuss methods of making financial aid letters more accessible to students.
During the public comment session of the Investment Committee meeting, several speakers stressed the importance of budget allocation for diversity and inclusion purposes and expressed their opposition to the roughly $ 140 million spent on the UCPD. Speakers pleaded for the diversion of funding to students and campus employees.
Later, the Special Committee on Basic Needs focused on student financial aid, UC director of student financial support Shawn Brick outlining plans for the future of financial aid letters .
The Brick mentioned that his office wants to make sure that the financial aid information that students receive once it’s accepted is aligned across UC campuses, so students can compare offers. He added that his office is working on a mobile method for incoming and continuing students to access their financial aid forms and review their offers.
With the announcement that UC campuses will no longer consider SAT and ACT in the admissions process, The Brick said the UC Academic Senate will restructure merit scholarships that previously relied on these scores.
Several regents addressed the topic of making financial aid more accessible and understandable for first generation UC students, as well as creating a unified process for students to compare financial aid programs.
Former Regent Debby Stegura explained how financial aid emails and information sent by the UC system contain jargon that might not be easily understood. The regents also discussed the lack of available translations.
“Even a simple language barrier is a huge problem,” Alexis Zaragoza, designated student regent and UC Berkeley student, told the meeting.
Zaragoza shared his personal experiences and proposed improvements for the financial aid award letters in order to globally cover the costs of participation. She suggested including the cost of off-campus living and how the cost of rent differs between UC campuses.
In addition, Zaragoza mentioned the confusion that can arise when grouping financial aid offers with loan offers and the lack of explanation given to differentiate the two.
“UC Merced’s financial aid offer letter is cited in the New America report as a model for explaining work-study,” read the meeting’s agenda.
Zaragoza said it believes there is a need to extend UC Merced’s model to other campuses.
Cheryl Lott said that without a detailed explanation, many incoming students don’t have a clear idea of how to fund their education or future living expenses.
“I’m not sure if all of our students know this, coming as 18-year-old freshmen,” Lott said at the meeting.
According to the agenda, the next steps include meeting with the directors of financial aid from all campuses and reviewing the recommendations made.
Contact Kelly Nguyen at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @KellyNguyen_DC.