President Barron outlined the details of funds this week from the Office of the President he promised in November to match the Student Fee Board’s allocation to CAPS. He also announced a new $7 million endowment created from corporate donations that will provide $315,000 annually to support CAPS.
Though Barron originally committed to $400,000 next year and $500,000 in subsequent years, the Office of the President will now provide $365,000 in new funding for CAPS. The Office will also take responsibility for an $85,000 position that’s currently funded by Penn State Athletics. Though UPUA President Terry Ford wasn’t sure of the specifics of this position, it’s safe to assume the person in this position provides some sort of counseling for student athletes.
If you’re counting, Barron’s total contribution is up to $450,000 per year. This funding is guaranteed for six years, but is “certain to continue thereafter” according to a press release from UPUA. Ford said they should have a better sense of the fund’s security after Barron reveals its source at the Penn State Board of Trustees meeting February 24.
The $7 million from corporate donors gave Barron some freedom in choosing how the funds could best be used, so he decided to create an endowment to support CAPS. The $315,000 in interest funds will be available each year beginning July 1, 2018. Another undisclosed funding source will provide $25,000 each year, bringing Barron’s total to $705,000 in new funding annually — $790,000 if you include the financial responsibility he’s taking over from Athletics.
Last year’s class gift and a matching fund from the Penn State Alumni Association will also support CAPS funding, though not to the extent CAPS needs at this point.
“To really get CAPS to where we need them to be, it’ll take upwards of $1 million, as they’ve outlined in their proposal,” Ford said.
Enter Student Fee Board.
At its first official meeting last month, the Student Fee Board heard a proposal from CAPS Director Dr. Ben Locke on what it would take to effectively eliminate the current wait list students encounter when they seek CAPS services. Locke said CAPS would use additional funding on programs like 24/7 access to a phone consultation, web-based self help, and centeralized tele-health services.
The proposal originally included a $15 allocation per semester from each student’s total fee. Now, Ford says it’s likely the Board will reduce that amount in light of these additional contributions from the Office of the President.
If enrollment ratios are maintained between University Park and the Commonwealth campuses, $215,000 in additional funding will be available for University Park beginning July 1, 2017 and that amount will increase to $415,000 on July 1, 2018.
Assuming enrollment at University Park also remains steady, about 82,545 students will pay student fees next year. In the original $15 CAPS funding proposal presented to the Student Fee Board, this would bring in $1,238,175 in student fee dollars for CAPS. However, the budget presented did not account for matching funds. But to what amount could the CAPS student fee allocation be reduced if the Student Fee Board still chooses to provide funding to meet the full proposed amount?
At $215,000 from President Barron — $12.40
At $415,000 from President Barron — $10
The Student Fee Board will meet Friday morning to vote on the Student Initiated Fee allocation to CAPS. Ford indicated it’s likely the Board will discuss various potential allocation amounts less than $15 and will vote on a specific amount when members reach a consensus.
“Mental health has been a conversation around here for so long,” Ford said. “Now it’s a matter of putting the resources where they need to be to help all students.”