Financially safe for the time being

By Nita Gandi / News Editor

By Nita Gandi / News Editor

With the final budget report for the 2011-2012 fiscal year submitted, the Financial Services department at Riverside City College seems to not be affected by any cuts.  

Elizabeth Hilton, the director of Student Financial Aid Services at RCC said that Financial Services is not affected by the budget and will continue to serve students with their financial needs.   

“When it comes to the impact on the availability of funding from the state and federal government we try to have as minimal impact on students as possible,” Hilton said. “We are bound by what they provide for us.”  

The financial aid office processes awards of federal and state aid to students with waivers and grants.  

“The federal government did have some pretty dramatic cuts to some of our what they call ‘campus based funding,’ which is the work study program and the federal (state university) grant,” Hilton said. “That’s the cut on their side.”

“We try to work with the funds available to us to get it out to as many students as possible, try and keep it on-campus as much as possible,” she said.  

According to Hilton, the issues with state funding has not yet affected students.  

According to the fiscal year 2011-2012 budget, $49,337,725 is going to be given in student federal grants and $2 million from the state of California student grants.  

Hilton said that the department is a part of a categorical grant from the state and has to meet different obligations to get the funding. The department reaches out to people like the mayor of Riverside for a grant during the winter semester. They also work the students to get scholarships to pay for classes.

The National Guard put out a new grant program from the state that the department jumped on to give to students.  

Funding is based on the student population of the college. In the budget report, it states that a full-time student is defined as: “One full-time equivalent student represents 525 class (contact) hours of student instruction/activity in credit and noncredit courses.”  

The number of students attending the college is determined by the actual count for each class hour of attendance or by the census periods that they have.  

The budget report gives a gloomy outlook for the 2012-2013 fiscal year budget.  

In the budget report it states, “as suggested herein, the state’s budget situation is likely to deteriorate. Further, our budgetary problems are three fold. We must confront decreasing budgets from the state. We must confront built-in cost escalation in our expenditure budgets, most of which were introduced in better times. And, we must redress a budgetary imbalance whereby ongoing budget issues are being addressed by one-time budget solutions.”

Hilton said that the Financial Aid department watches the state legislatures very closely to make sure that students are receiving their aid.  

“We watch the legislature very closely to communicate back to them if we see any changes that they are proposing that are going to impact our students,” Hilton said. “We are very vocal with our region and through our associations that if we see something out there, proposals for the Board of Governors’ waiver or a state grant that we really fight on the students behalf to minimize the impact.”  

The Financial Aid department has had cuts. However, they have been working hard not to let the cuts affect the department from providing financial aid to students.  

“We haven’t, at Riverside, cut our hours additionally as far as students services as compared to the other colleges,” Hilton said. “We have actually increased our amount of customer services availability, counters to try and keep service available.”

“(We) really try and stream lining processes so that students aren’t impacted at all by the cuts to the college,” she said.  

Despite the cuts to the budget of each department, the cuts have not reached any grants given to students.  

Hilton said the department is trying to keep the impact of the budget cuts away from students who are receiving financial aid, and can keep serving the students financial needs.  

For more information on financial aid, go to http://www.rcc.edu/services/studentFinancialServices/.