Jade Tamyo doesn’t think she will have to borrow money from her grandparents to pay for her $231 campus parking pass this quarter.
The third-year sociology student commutes to campus about four times a week, often going straight to class from her job as a law firm clerk in Marina del Rey. Though she said she tries to pay for all her expenses, the entire cost of a parking pass is difficult for her to front each quarter.
Tamyo is one of the 10 undergraduate students who received the first transportation scholarships from the Undergraduate Students Association Council Financial Supports Commission last week. Commuter students were eligible to apply for the scholarship, which aims to ease the financial burden of transportation costs that some commuter students face, USAC Financial Supports Commissioner Heather Rosen said.
The $100 scholarship can be used to pay for parking passes, bus passes, gas or any other cost of transportation. The current transportation scholarship is a pilot for a future scholarship program, which the Financial Supports Commission hopes to expand, Rosen said.
The $1,000 distributed among the 10 winners came from the UCLA parking reserves, a fund containing revenues from parking permit sales and daily parking fees, said Lisa Koerbling, UCLA Events and Transportation director and parking administrator, in an email.
Rosen said she worked with Koerbling over the course of a few months to secure funding for the pilot program, but she thinks the parking reserve is not a sustainable source of funding for the future.
About 450 students applied for the scholarship, and organizers picked 10 winners through a lottery system based on three tiers of financial need.
Of the 10 winners, five came from the tier receiving the most financial aid. Three winners came from the middle tier and two came from the tier of applicants receiving the least amount of financial aid, Rosen said. The UCLA Financial Aid Office placed applicants into the three tiers based on the amount of financial aid UCLA gave to each student.
Raymond Mai, the USAC Financial Supports Commission chief of staff, said the commission used the three tier system because members thought it was important to open the scholarship to all commuter students, but still place an emphasis on students in need of the most financial aid.
Instead of making the scholarship a subsidy for parking permits, the commission gave the winners $100 checks to give them flexibility in what transportation expenditures they use the scholarship to cover, Mai said.
“I think this scholarship is a great way for USAC to make more resources available to commuter students who might be struggling to pay for their transportation to or from school,” Rosen said. “Parking and gas can be expensive, so I hope this can help ease some of that burden.”
Tamyo, who plans to put the $100 scholarship aside to pay for next quarter’s parking pass, said she plans to apply for the scholarship again if it is offered in the future.
The main goal of this year’s scholarship was to set a foundation for the program’s future by gauging demand and working out logistics, Mai said.
“Our main goal moving forward is to find a sustainable funding source for the scholarship,” Mai said. “Based on the number of applications and the buzz around it, I think the scholarship has a lot of potential for the future.”
While the USAC Financial Supports Commission does not yet have a set plan to institutionalize the scholarship within the commission, it hopes to expand the program through private donations from alumni and businesses, Rosen said.