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The Daily Wildcat

 

Campus groups vie for share of $1.5 million in fee money

Will+Ferguson%2F+Arizona+Daily+Wildcat%0A%0A%0AThe+Student+Services+Fee+board+held+its+annual+allocation+meeting+in+the+Saguaro+Room+of+El+Portal.+The+board+discussed+funding+for+student+and+graduate+run+programs+at+the+University+of+Arizona.++
Will Ferguson
Will Ferguson/ Arizona Daily Wildcat The Student Services Fee board held its annual allocation meeting in the Saguaro Room of El Portal. The board discussed funding for student and graduate run programs at the University of Arizona.

The Student Services Fee Advisory Board granted $232,000 to Project RUSH, $225,900 to a new academic probation program and $161,500 to Scholarship Universe during its allocation hearings on Monday.

The Student Services Fee is an annual, $80 charge assessed to all UA students. The board then partitions out that money to campus groups. Based on conservative estimates for fiscal year 2013, the board will allocate about $1.5 million, though organizations have requested about $2 million. The board allocated $810,600 of that on Monday, easily passing some proposals while making changes to or denying others.

Project RUSH, a project that created jobs and a speedier process for students to call financial aid with questions, was granted their funding yearly for two years without much debate. A third year of funding was turned down to maintain flexibility of future funds, said Daniel Altomare, a senior studying business economics and history and co-chair of the board.

After much debate, the board passed a request for funding that will assist a pilot program, Pathway to Academic Student Success Probation Program, which is intended to help students on academic probation maintain good grades and stay in school. Many board members were concerned that the program requires students to take initiative and go to these classes, which is unlikely for students on academic probation to do unless their reliance on financial aid is enough of an incentive.

“I think that it’s a good start for a pilot program being that our retention rates are not as high as we would like them to be here at the University of Arizona,” said Blanca Delgado, a public health junior. “Even though it is a voluntary approach, I think that it may be a wakeup call for some students.”

Scholarship Universe requested $350,000 in funds to both maintain and expand its website. The program’s application focused on expanding Scholarship Universe and trademarking it for sale to other schools, something the board members found problematic. After discussing the effectiveness and common problems of the website, the members decided expansion was unnecessary and not something student should be funding.

“It (the application) seemed to be focused on expanding this to a marketable product basically making us pay for product development,” said Robert Jacobi, an aerospace engineering graduate student.

After the board amended the request to ensure that the funds are only used to maintain and improve the website by adding scholarships and not on marketing to other universities, Scholarship Universe was allocated only a portion of the funds requested.

Like Project RUSH, other programs requested two or three years of funding but were only granted one year. These decisions were made not only to maintain flexibility in future funding but also because the programs were fairly new and had no guarantee of success.
“Each application is really different and some of them are super easy to assess quantitatively … and then others … it’s just really hard in the nature of how it’s written and what the program is trying to do,” said Leo Yamaguchi, a senior studying physiology and nutrition.

A service initiative project proposed by the Associated Students of the University of Arizona was denied due to “limited funds,” board members said. Also denied was a request for $127,500 to go toward a program that would prepare students for internships.

The board is made up of seven undergraduate students and four graduate students. Four of these students go through an interview process to join the board and are representatives at large. The board will hold a second meeting on Friday to finish allocating student fee funds.

“We want to make sure we do the … best job using student money because they can’t be here for whatever reason,” Yamaguchi said.

Breaking down the numbers

Changes in funding from last year

Safe Ride
2011: $140,000
2012: $9,500

Project RUSH
2011: $112,900
2012: $232,000

Student Transitions
2011: $55,100
2012: $134,200

Next Steps Center
2011: $0
2012: $88,500

Source: Student Services Fee Advisory Board

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