Key Takeaways

  • A portion of certain USAC fees goes to student groups.

  • Inflation has caused a decrease in the purchasing power of fees.

  • New fees are automatically adjusted for inflation, but most older fees aren’t.

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Our previous post showed that student government fees have risen significantly over the past decades, but certain fees have decreased in purchasing power because they haven’t been adjusted for inflation, ultimately resulting in less funding for student groups.

Each fee the Undergraduate Students Association Council has added since 2005 is automatically adjusted for inflation every three years, but most fees instituted prior to 2005 are not.

Portions of many fees go to funding bodies, which provide money for student groups. A large percentage of fees, such as the membership fee, goes to funding bodies. Although the membership fee increased from $7 to $10 in 2001, the purchasing power in 2015 dollars of the money USAC gets from the fee has dropped from $1.2 million in 1982 to around $900,000 in 2015.

An increase in the number of undergraduates has brought in slightly more income for USAC in recent years because there are more people paying the same fee, but for most of USAC’s history, inflation has resulted in a net loss in purchasing power for many of the fees that don’t get adjusted for inflation.

The graphs below explore the change in purchasing power for each fee that was instituted prior to 2005, at which point any newly created fees became adjusted for inflation automatically. See our previous post for a breakdown of all fees that does not take into account purchasing power.

The graphs are annotated each time a fee was increased manually, showing the previous cost per student per quarter and its new cost per student per quarter. Some fees started being adjusted for inflation after a certain year, indicated by a vertical orange line.

Membership Fee

The membership fee supports the administration of the undergraduate student government and provides funding for each commission and office. The leftover funds – after all administrative expenses are calculated for – go toward two funding bodies: 80 percent to the Student Organizations Operational Fund and 20 percent to the Student Government Operational Fund. Only student groups are eligible to apply for funding from SOOF, while only offices in the student government can apply for funding from SGOF.

Entertainment Fee

The entertainment fee is distributed between the Campus Events Commission and Cultural Affairs Commission, and only funds events programmed by them.

Academic Affairs Commission Fee

The Academic Affairs Commission fee supports the administration of the commission, the events the commission programs – such as its Fight for Education Week – and a funding body the commission supervises, the Academic Success Referendum Fund. At least 20 percent of the Academic Affairs Commission budget must be allocated to the fund. However, under Allyson Bach, last year’s Academic Affairs commissioner, the commission was able to allocate 40 percent of its budget to ASRF. For the upcoming year, Academic Affairs Commissioner Trent Kajikawa has budgeted 40 percent of the fee to go toward the fund.

Community Service Commission Fee

The Community Service Commission fee funds the administration of the largest student-initiated community service organization in the nation and the 33 student-run service organizations that fall under it. The service organizations do not receive the fees directly – instead, the Community Service Commission provides the resources for each organization using funds raised from the fee.

Student Welfare Commission Fee

The Student Wellness Commission fee goes toward the staff and the 12 committees under the commission, such as the Sexperts and the Body Image Task Force. Five percent of the budget goes toward a funding body the commission oversees, the Student Wellness Programming Fund.

External Vice President Fee

The External Vice President’s office focuses on student advocacy at the local, state and national levels. The fee funds the staff of the office and the programs it organizes to educate the student body on political issues affecting the University of California. After the student government voted to withdraw from the United States Student Association, the External Vice President’s office had an extra $25,000 in funding available. The office launched a program in early September called Bruin Defenders, which will fund student groups that want to lobby. Bruin Defenders will have about $50,000 available in funding.

USA Programming Fee

The USA/ASUCLA programming fee supports a funding body that the undergraduate student government supervises, the USA/ASUCLA Programming Fund. Student groups can only make purchases of advertising, graphics, honoraria and supplies for their program using allocations from the USA/ASUCLA Programming Fund.

Community Service Mini Fund

The Community Service Mini-Fund, which is not affiliated with the Community Service Commission, funds student group events that have a community service initiative.

Campus Retention Committee Fee

The Campus Retention Committee fee supports the Student Retention Center, which aims to ensure students are able to stay in college and graduate, in the UCLA Community Programs Office. The Student Retention Center houses six projects targeted toward specific communities that assist students struggling in academics or the transition to college. The center also manages the Test Bank, the CPO Computer Lab and the CPO Food Closet.

Community Activities Committee Fee

The Community Activities Committee fee supports one of the largest funding bodies on campus – it aims to allocate $400,000 for its regular funding period each year. The amount the commission receives from student fees only represents about 20 to 30 percent of the entire budget of the committee, said Jonathan Tam, chair of the committee and a graduate student in education.

Student Initiated Outreach Committee Fee

The Student Initiated Outreach Center fee supports the Student Initiated Outreach Center, which falls under the UCLA Community Programs Office. The center supports seven projects that provide educational programs to students from low-income backgrounds and underserved communities.

UCSA Contribution Fee

The UCSA contribution fee funds membership to the UC Student Association, which represents the interests of students and student governments in the UC system. UCSA has lobbied extensively at the state level for increased funding to the UC.

UCSA and USSA Travel Fee

The UCSA and USSA travel fee funds the travel costs associated with traveling from UCLA to other campuses, UCSA conferences and Sacramento. Although it also used to fund travel to Washington, D.C., when UCLA was a member of the USSA, the travel fees have since been redirected to the Bruin Defenders program.

About the Data

Inflation data is from the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ CPI Inflation Calculator.

Enrollment data is from the UCLA office of Academic Planning and Budget (APB).

Historical fee data is from the Undergraduate Students Association Council.

Note that the numbers in the post assume that every undergraduate counted in APB’s enrollment history table pays USAC fees. In reality, a portion of undergraduates do not pay USAC fees including those who are not full-time, studying abroad or nursing students.

Story by Nick Yu and Harrison Liddiard. Graphics by Harrison Liddiard.