The average college graduate is $20,000 in debt – but the Cal Aggie Alumni Association has a plan to ensure their fees don’t add to the weight on recent graduates’ shoulders.
Currently, CAAA dues are paid after a student graduates – should they choose to become a member. New alumni can choose either to pay a $50 yearly fee, or a $700 lump sum for a life membership.
Kalen Gallagher, a member of the CAAA Membership Committee and former ASUCD president said the current system has led to a less than ideal membership.
“As a group, we decided that our membership numbers would greatly improve if we developed a system that is friendlier towards students,” Gallagher said.
A student may elect to join CAAA for networking purposes, as the association offers many programs to connect UC Davis alumni.
The proposed solution is the “optional student check-off model,” which provides students with a third choice – to pay a $35 quarterly fee while they are undergraduates. The option to make a payment to CAAA for future membership would appear in a checkbox while the student or their parents make their regular tuition payments.
CAAA would then keep track of how much a student has paid into the system throughout their college career – and the student could pay the remaining balance off after graduation.
“We want to make sure that it’s an option for students to pay-as-they-go, so to speak,” said Richard Engel, executive director of CAAA. “And also that they can opt out and discontinue fees at any time.”
Engel is optimistic that CAAA’s goal of having the option approved and available by the beginning of the 2009-2010 school year is attainable.
“We did some pre-work with the chancellor when the students brought it to us, and she was supportive,” Engel said. “As long as the final resolution passes through Student Affairs then getting approval shouldn’t be a problem – the chancellor knows it’s coming.”
“The CAAA board of directors has already passed their resolution in support of it,” Gallagher said. “We just need to get the senate’s support first and then go through university regulations.”
The plan was introduced to ASUCD last Thursday and was expected to be heard in their budget finance committee meeting Tuesday night, said Engel.
Committee members believe that the plan will generally go over well with students, despite recent disapproval of university expenses.
“We know that raising student fees isn’t popular and isn’t ideal, but because it is optional, it doesn’t put pressure on the students,” Gallagher said.
According to their website, CAAA has nearly 29,000 members. Gallagher said he expects the payment model to increase the association’s numbers, and stressed that because the payment model is completely optional, there is no downside for a recent graduate.
“Allowing students to pay into CAAA a little bit at a time makes the cost much more manageable.” Gallagher said. “This should help our numbers grow and put more money back into CAAA – which will lead to more programming and networking opportunities for alumni and students of UC Davis.”
MIKE DORSEY can be reached at email@example.com.