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Free (or nearly free) tuition available for many campus employees

22 July 2004

Mike Salcido and Susan Roach [see story ] are but two of a number of staff who will be attending classes at Berkeley for free this fall. Both staffers receive funds from a pair of programs that make attending the University surprisingly affordable.

The Reduced Fee Enrollment Program offers eligible staff a two-thirds reduction off registration and educational fees. To be eligible, the applicant must be a career-status UC employee who has passed his or her employee probationary period and works 50-percent time or greater. The applicant must also have been admitted to the University as a graduate or undergraduate. To offset the rest of their University fees, employees can apply for Career Development Opportunity Program (CDOP) funds, provided they are working toward “a legitimate career goal within the UC system,” says Steve Overcashier, CDOP program manager. Each employee can currently use $5,250 per calendar year to cover the cost of instruction, books, non-local travel, and career counseling. “The major hurdle,” says Overcashier, “is to get accepted into Cal.”

Many employees know they can apply for CDOP funds to cover the cost of career counseling or classes outside of the UC system. Few may be aware that those monies can also be used to complete a degree within the system itself.

“These programs are a way the University can boost employee morale in a time when staff are not getting raises,” says Helen Johnson, director of the Centers for Transfer, Re-entry, and Student Parents.

Although some staff may worry that CDOP funds will evaporate, Overcashier says that while there is always pressure to reduce costs, the campus administration and Office of Human Resources are committed to sustaining this popular program. “There may need to be adjustments made to the amount that people can apply for in a given year, but any changes will be announced in advance,” explains Overcashier. “In addition, CDOP monies are not drawn from a set fund, but are derived from an 0.45-percent assessment on all non-academic payroll.”

“It’s a scholarship and an amazing opportunity,” says Mike Salcido, who didn’t know about the existence of either program when he applied for admission to the University.

Though precise numbers of staff members who are taking advantage of these programs aren’t available, in 2001, 100 staff were enrolled as undergraduates or graduates at Berkeley. In 2002 and 2003, the number held steady at about 75.

For information on the Reduced Fee Enrollment Program and the Career Development Program, visit hrweb.berkeley.edu/learning/reducfee.htm and hrweb.berkeley.edu/learning/cdop.htm. For information on becoming a transfer or re-entry student at UC Berkeley, visit reentry.berkeley.edu.

Staff who are interested in resuming their education are invited to attend a brown-bag information exchange at The Centers for Transfer, Re-entry, and Student Parents on July 29 at noon in 105 Cesar Chavez Center. Contact Ken Gonsalves, Outreach Coordinator, for more information (kgun@berkeley.edu).
Undergraduate Admissions, Financial Aid, and The Centers for Transfer, Re-entry, and Student Parents are co-sponsoring a Prospective Student workshop. Sessions will be offered Sept. 15, Oct. 12, Nov. 9, and Nov. 18 from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. in 100 Cesar Chavez Center.