LARC to Increase Prices For Tutoring Services

Students voice their concerns as the LARC staff outlines the reasons behind the tutoring price increase.

Students and administrators from the Division of Undergraduate Education (DUE) gathered in Balboa Island Conference Room A on Tuesday, Jan. 22 to discuss the future of the Learning and Academic Resource Center (LARC) and how recent changes to the program will affect students.

The forum was the result of a collaboration between ASUCI and DUE to address student concerns about price increases for tutoring as well as future plans for the LARC program. The LARC tutoring service recently had to increase its price from $80 per quarterly class to $100, with an increase in class sizes due to budgetary constraints. According to the Associate Dean of DUE, Rudy Berkelhamer, the decision was unpopular but necessary.

“[The university] specifically told us that we needed to either make most of the tutoring services self-supporting or pass them onto the schools that they were serving,” Berkelhamer said. “The only portion of the LARC operation that we were told we could retain in our budget were the writing specialists and the specialist that does study skills.”

The LARC program had its budget cut over the years due to loss of subsidies for the University of California system from the State. The amount of money allocated to the UC system was decreasing every year before the passing of Proposition 30 in 2012. This amount was $3.3 billion a year in 2007, but was cut by $900 million in the period between then and 2012 despite rising costs to the University System during those same years. This cut in revenue caused the University to cut funding to programs on campus, including LARC.

As a result of the cuts, the price for LARC tutoring services increased. The amount for each LARC tutoring class was set to $100 per class because the $80 previously paid by students only covered 80 percent of the cost of the class for each person, while the remaining $20 was subsidized by the Division of Undergraduate Education. Once the funding from DUE had to be cut, this cost was passed down to the students to make the tutoring program sustainable.

Cost increases were a major concern for students at the forum. Many students in the audience voiced their concerns over increases in price and wanted to know more about LARC’s budget. Internal Assistant Dean and Financial Manager of EDU Jennifer Aaron tried to reassure students that the increases in price were necessary and that the program is efficient.

“The fees all go to run LARC which basically consists of salaries,” Aaron said. “Except for very little supplies that are needed, it’s really just salaries. It’s tutors, tutor advisors, it’s persons to help manage the office. We are running really lean,” Aaron said.

Even though her answer did not please everybody, Aaron again tried to assure attendees that the LARC program was still a good investment for students.

“We realize that cost is very sensitive, we’ve done our best to keep it at what it is right now, which is still a pretty good deal right now than if you were to get tutoring somewhere else,” Aaron said. “But it does 100 percent go to DUE, nothing goes to profit.”

Despite everything Aaron and Berkelhamer said, students requested to see LARC’s budget, which Aaron and Berkelhamer would not show. They both defended their stance, claiming that all funds that LARC receives goes to personnel. Berkelhamer felt that there was no reason to give this information to the students since it involved salaries of university employees.

“I don’t want to give you a budget on what we pay each individual, that’s private,” Berkelhamer said.

However, money was not the only concern brought up by students at the forum. Some members of the audience were also concerned with increases in LARC class sizes and voiced their concerns at the forum. Berkelhamer defended EDU’s decision to increase class sizes for LARC on account that she believed that it would not have a negative effect for students taking the course.

“We don’t have very good data that the older, smaller tutorials were very effective, our data suggests that most of them might have been effective but we can’t factor out that the students that signed up for them were motivated to sign up for them … the only tutorials that we were able to demonstrate clear effectiveness were the ones where the instructor was intimately involved with it,” Berkelhamer said.

Berkelhamer and Aaron feel confident that LARC will be able to support students with their academic efforts despite the changes to the program. Aaron also felt that the forum was a success because it allowed students to voice their concerns and gain insight into the LARC program.

“I thought it went really well, we got a lot of feedback at the end from students saying they appreciated what we presented, they felt like it was pretty transparent,” Aaron said.