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Twin efforts to increase student support announced

October 23, 2009

Seeking to help keep the University of California accessible and
affordable for California students, UC President Mark G. Yudof
today (Oct. 23) announced an ambitious fundraising effort that aims
to raise $1 billion for student support over the next four years.

Yudof also announced that he would be asking the UC Regents in
November to expand the reach of an ongoing financial aid plan to
ensure that eligible undergraduate students with family incomes of
$70,000 or less will pay no systemwide fees.

“Our message today is simple,” Yudof told an assembly of
students at Sunnyside High School in east Fresno. “If you can earn
the grades, you can get into the University of California. And if
your family needs help, you can get financial aid.

“We’re in the opportunity business, and even in hard fiscal
times we are going to be doing everything we can to preserve one of
the greatest attributes of the university — its rare
combination of world-class education and research and its high
proportion of students from low-income families.”

Through the fundraising effort, Project You Can, all 10 UC
campuses have committed to raise $1 billion in the aggregate over
the next four years – doubling the amount of private support the
system has raised for scholarships, fellowships and other gift aid
in the previous five years. The UC Board of Regents will be asked
to endorse the effort at its November meeting.

Likewise, Yudof will ask the Board of Regents in November to
expand the university’s Blue and Gold Opportunity Plan to include
California families with incomes below $70,000. The plan, approved
by the Regents in February, currently covers all systemwide fees
for resident undergraduates with financial need whose family
incomes are $60,000 or below.

Yudof made his announcement at Sunnyside High School, which for
10 years has propelled promising students toward health careers
through its Doctors Academy, a program sponsored by UCSF Fresno.
Despite facing social and economic barriers — 87 percent of
Sunnyside’s students are eligible for free or reduced lunch —
all Doctors Academy graduates have gone on to college, 43 percent
of them at UC campuses.

“You can get into UC, and you can get assistance if you need it.
That’s our message today,” Yudof told an assembly of about 250
students, with 50 participants in the Doctors Academy seated behind him.

“And it’s appropriate to deliver this message here in the heart
of the San Joaquin Valley, which is the heart of California.”

Yudof reminded the students of the story of the academy’s
founder, Dr. Katherine Flores. Raised by her grandparents, she left
the fields behind to earn her bachelor’s degree from Stanford
University and later graduated from UC Davis’ medical school. She
returned to the Fresno area where doctors are in short supply and
started the program as a way to help future generations follow her trail.

“The chancellors and I agree that we need to be working on all
fronts to maintain and enhance access and affordability even in
times of tight budgets and continuing state disinvestment,” Yudof
said in comments preceding his address. “Our goal is to increase
aid significantly for UC students receiving financial support and
to make sure no qualified UC student is shut out simply because of
a lack of resources.”

Even before Yudof called on the chancellors to embark on the
ambitious undertaking of raising $1 billion for student aid, UC
campuses had been ramping up their efforts to raise private support
as increases in student fees and other expenses have intensified
the need for additional student financial support.

For campuses already conducting comprehensive fundraising
campaigns, ambitious goals for student support have been set. On
other campuses, the goals may be smaller and more specific to
particular schools and colleges. On all campuses, however, there is
clear recognition of the need to focus fundraising efforts more
sharply on student support.

Project You Can and the Blue and Gold Opportunity Plan build on
ongoing aid programs for UC students that enabled the university in
2008-09 to provide gift aid averaging $11,100 per student to more
than half of all UC undergraduates, and to enroll more low-income
students (nearly one-third of all undergraduates) than any
comparable public or private institution.

Over the last five years, UC campuses collectively have received
more than $100 million each year in philanthropic support for
students. Privately funded scholarships and fellowships have played
a smaller role than government and UC grants in providing financial
support to students. In a typical year nearly 22,000 UC students
receive approximately $110 million in private gift aid, or almost 1
in 10 students.

Yudof said increasing private support is more pressing than ever
as UC has seen its state-funded budget slashed by $814 million in
the last two years, and state support for each student decline by
half over the last two decades. Bridging that funding shortfall has
forced the university to take painful actions, such as a proposal
to increase student fees over the next two years, and the
implementation of furloughs for faculty and staff.

At the same time, the university has been exploring potential
sources of new revenue in a variety of ways, including the recently
formed UC Commission on the Future.

“While what I have proposed today will allow us to preserve
access and help students with financial need, they are not a
substitute for adequate state support,” Yudof said. “We must
continue our relentless advocacy in Sacramento for increased state
funding, even while we explore new ways to increase support for the
university and our students. We must be creative and flexible,
except when it comes to one thing: the historic excellence of the
university. That is one area where I will not compromise.”

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