UC introduces system to alter allocation of state funds

State funds distributed by UC to each campus this academic year (2012-2013):
Not currently receiving rebenching funds:
UCLA: $6,413
UC Davis: $6,129
UC Berkeley: $5,749
UC San Diego: $5,499

Currently receiving rebenching funds:
UC Riverside: $5,401
UC Santa Cruz: $5,215
UC Irvine: $4,975
UC Santa Barbara: $4,275

University of California officials have agreed that the process by which individual campuses get state funding isn’t transparent enough. A newly introduced budget model called rebenching aims to remedy that.

The new system will allocate funds for UC campuses based on enrollment figures, according to a recent rebenching proposal. Extra state funds will not be redistributed among all the campuses, rather, to those schools that typically receive less funding. UC Riverside, UC Santa Cruz, UC Irvine and UC Santa Barbara are currently receiving these rebenching funds.

Setting enrollment goals for UC campuses is the next phase in the rebenching proposal. Upon receiving campus input, UC officials are expected to set the enrollment targets by June, which will eventually determine the rebenching fund amounts for next year.

A numbers game
Previously, the state funding structure was based on an algorithm that took into account graduate student population and when the campus increased enrollment. This favored older campuses, like UCLA, which receives the most state funding at $6,413 per year.

“It was by default, the way the distribution took place, [that] tended to favor campuses who had been established a long time ago,” said Jean-Bernard Minster, Chair of the Committee on Planning and Budget for the Academic Senate.

According to UC spokesperson Dianne Klein, the goal of rebenching is to more equitably allocate state funding to campuses based on the numbers and types of students enrolled.

“Currently, UCLA receives the largest allocation of state funds. Is that fair? Is that equitable? Under rebenching, other campuses will see their allocations of state funds increase,” Klein said.

Klein stated that rebenching is scheduled to take place over the next six years. However, the six year plan may be adjusted, depending on whether or not the UC receives enough additional state funds each year.

Funding for the rebenching plan would require about $36 million annually.

Less confusion means more transparency
According to Kelly Ratliff, a representative of UC Davis Budget and Institutional Analysis, the rebenching process aims to create a more consistent and uniform approach for allocating state funds in place of many years of incremental allocations.

“An important goal is to have a simple methodology which will improve transparency,” Ratliff said.

Minster agrees that rebenching is important for transparency.

“[Rebenching] truly is a step towards transparency, away from an old system that had become extremely complicated and impossible to explain even by learning from administrators,” he said.

Ratliff explained that rebenching is one of the two major efforts that have been made to simplify allocation of funds. The first was funding streams, which were implemented in the 2011-12 school year and replaced a series of complex and incremental allocations with a simple tax on all expenditures. Unlike funding streams, rebenching focuses on how the state funds are allocated.

“[Rebenching] is based on increased state funding and is paired with the new model of allowing campuses to keep all the revenue they generate,” Klein said.

Budget shortfall remains
According to Klein, state funds to the UC have been reduced by nearly $1 billion in the last five years. While the passage of Proposition 30 prevented an additional $250 million cut in state funding, the UC continues to face challenges to its budget.

“While we are certainly happy that [Proposition] 30 passed, it is not a panacea for higher education and we will continue to pursue efficiencies and cutbacks and revenue-generating measures. We did not raise tuition last year and are not planning to do so for the upcoming academic year. So we still have a budget shortfall that we must close,” Klein said.

JESSICA GRILLI can be reached at campus@theaggie.org.