UC is Best Top-Ranked University at Enrolling Low-Income Students, Study Says
Six University of California campuses enroll more low-income students than any other top university in the country, public or private, according to a new national study.
The study by Tom Mortenson of Postsecondary Education Opportunity, a national newsletter on access to higher education, looked at the top 50 national universities as ranked by U.S. News & World Report and ranked them according to the number of Pell Grant recipients they enrolled. Recipients of Pell Grants come from low-income families whose earnings are usually below $35,000 a year.
The six UC campuses that made the U.S. News & World Report list fill all the top slots in Mortenson's study. UCLA enrolled the highest percentage of low-income students in the nation, with 35.1 percent of its students qualifying for Pell Grants. UC Berkeley follows, with 32.4 percent; UC Irvine is third with 31.5 percent; UC Davis, fourth with 28.5 percent; UC San Diego, fifth with 28.3 percent; and UC Santa Barbara, sixth with 24.8 percent.
UC's own analyses reveal that its other two undergraduate campuses also enroll high percentages of low-income students: UC Riverside (40.9 percent) and UC Santa Cruz (26.7 percent).
Mortenson's study supports the findings of a James Irvine Foundation report and subsequent UC analysis that showed UC has achieved its goal of remaining financially accessible to all the students it admits.
The University of California's success in this area has stemmed from the following:
- A strong state grant program: The state of California's commitment to low-income students through its Cal Grant Program, which until recent proposed budget cuts, guaranteed fee coverage for students attending UC.
- A strong institutional grant program: Until recent budget
proposals, UC returned one-third of its new fee revenue to its
financial aid programs.
- The California Master Plan for Higher Education: California students know that they will have a place in the state's higher education system, regardless of family income, if they prepare academically.
- Academic preparation programs: Award-winning academic preparation programs such as the Mathematics, Engineering, Science Achievement program Early Academic Outreach Program and Puente Project help build a college-going culture among low- and middle-income Californians.
- A focus on California resident students: Unlike many comparable public institutions, the University of California's mission and its state funding allow it to focus on serving the students of California rather than residents of other states who can afford out-of-state tuition.
However, this success story is in jeopardy. Both the state's Cal Grant program and UC's institutional grant program are being cut at the same time that fees and other educational costs are rising. The key to maintaining California's commitment to all its students rests on its investment in financial aid.
UC continues to press its case in Sacramento, and will do everything within its means to preserve a strong financial aid program for its students.
The Mortenson study findings can be found at:
Copies of the complete Mortenson study can be provided to reporters who call UC media coordinator Hanan Eisenman at (510) 587-6194.
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