Financial cuts hit students

EOPS funds drop

Reduced state funding and past student behavior have resulted in Equal Opportunity Programs and Services altering some benefits for recipients.

EOPS, a state-funded program that supports students from low-income backgrounds, has cut the amount of money students get for textbooks and parking permits, but has added a monetary incentive for those who stay in school.

In the past, students in the program have received free parking permits, which cost $40 this semester, and a $300 book voucher. This year EOPS students will pay $25 for a discounted parking pass and in addition the voucher has been reduced to $125.

According to Assistant EOPS Director Steve Freeman the budget, which comes from the state, has been reduced by about 5 percent a year in the recent past. Although EOPS would like to serve every student in need, reduced funding means either helping fewer students or cutting the money they get.

In addition, some past recipients would enroll classes and sign up for the program but never complete the semester.

“Before a lot of students were coming into EOPS and would take the voucher, the permit, and we would never see them again” he said. “That’s thousands of dollars leaving our department and we can’t sustain that.”

To combat that problem, EOPS has added a cash grant to help successful students make up for the cuts.

“Some people may think ‘you’re taking away my book voucher money,’ but we’re giving you that money back if you fulfill your contract,” said Freeman.

EOPS students are required to meet with a counselor three times during the semester, maintain a 2.0 GPA and take advantage of priority registration for the next semester.

LMC student Rodney Kelley, who both works for the program and as an EOPS recipient said it is easy to “to tell which students are just here for the vouchers and other benefits, they would sit in orientations, get what they need and never show up.”

The changes will mainly impact them and the money saved will allow EOPS to help more students on limited funding.

“Reducing the book voucher means we’re able to serve more students, and that’s a great thing,” he said.