The majority of revenue created by the Student Success Fee will go towards offering additional classes.
The majority of the money funded by Cal Poly’s Student Success Fee is once again going toward additional classes in 2014-15.
For the next fiscal year, Cal Poly is expecting about $14.9 million in revenue through the Student Success Fee. Of that amount, approximately $9.2 million will be spent on additional classes, Associate Vice Provost Kimi Ikeda said.
“Although we don’t have the report on how many classes were added for this year, last year an additional 30,000 seats were offered with funding in the fiscal year of 2012-2013,” she said.
The average unit load for students also changed from 14.34 in previous years to 14.39 last year.
“This means that students were taking, on average, more classes than they had in the past,” she said. “Those were the two indicators we looked at to see that we were being successful and offering more courses.”
While the $2 million added into the nearly $7.2 million continuing fund for additional classes will be spent on hiring 30 to 40 tenure faculty members, the university is not only measuring the effects of the fee by the number of professors. Cal Poly is specifically noting the effects of the fee based on the number of class seats and class sections added, Ikeda said.
“If you have one professor offering a course of 200 seats vs. one of 24 seats, you’re seeing the benefit of the 200,” Ikeda said. “We wanted to make sure that students actually saw how many class seats and class sections were being offered rather than just the number of courses, because there can be a significant difference there.”
The decision to spend the majority of the money on additional classes was because of student demand to do so, Associated Students, Inc. President and agricultural business senior Jason Colombini said.
“This is something that the students really expressed they wanted the most — both when the fee was passed and now,” he said. “At the start of the committee this year, we had six students on there — each student represented a different college — and most of the colleges said their students really wanted money to be spent on access to additional classes.”
The university, however, is still having difficulty determining students’ desires in terms of classes.
“We’re unclear if students want classes at certain times with certain faculty, or if they just want more classes offered,” Ikeda said.
Ikeda said there is space in many classes that students don’t want to take, such as those at 7 a.m. or on Friday afternoons.
“We’re trying to figure out what it really is,” she said. “If it’s really that we don’t have enough courses out there that students can’t take, or if it’s because they’re being specific in which ones they want to take.”
But Ikeda explained offering classes isn’t the only thing that will help students in the upcoming years.
“Helping students graduate by offering more courses is more than just about offering classes,” she said. “It’s having good advisors that help them figure out exactly what courses they need to graduate — having faculty to help students know what courses in their major to take. And all those things are also aided by the Student Success Fee.”
The fee, which was implemented over a three-year period, began as a rate of $160 per quarter and generated approximately $8.6 million in 2012-13. This academic year, the rate went up to $210 per quarter and generated approximately $11.7 million. In Fall 2014, the rate will go up to $260 per quarter. Budget director Victor Brancart said this will be the final increase.
Though no increased allocations will be made in the upcoming years, there will still be an active committee in the future to determine if the money should be divided differently.
“In future years, there won’t be increased allocations to look at,” Colombini said. “So now the committee will basically look at the charge of those annual reports, look through the website, get the reports back from each group that’s funded to make sure it’s still going to students’ priorities and it’s still going to the students.”