To make the University of California’s financial aid programs
more transparent for families and encourage more low-income
students to apply, President Mark G. Yudof will bring to the next
meeting of the Board of Regents a proposal that establishes a
minimum level of gift assistance for financially needy California
undergraduates with incomes below the state household median of
$60,000 per year.
The proposal, known as the Blue and Gold Opportunity Plan, is
still subject to ongoing consultations with faculty and student
leadership and will be brought to the Regents for potential action
at their Feb. 3-5 meeting.
Under the current proposal, undergraduates in their first four
years of attendance at UC — or two for California Community
College transfer students — would receive enough scholarship
and grant assistance to at least fully cover their systemwide UC
fees if they have incomes below the median for California
households ($60,000) and meet other basic eligibility requirements
for need-based financial aid. With the income cut-off set at the
median income for California households, the plan will potentially
extend to half of all California households.
“Despite having a robust financial aid program and enrolling
more low-income students than any other top research university, UC
must be able to counter effectively the perception that our costs,
especially our fee charges, make us financially inaccessible to
students of modest means,” Yudof said. “The Blue and Gold
Opportunity Plan offers a straightforward financial aid message to
reassure low-income students and families that UC is financially
accessible, especially during these tough economic times. The
proposal’s goal is to make sure lower-income families no longer
need to worry about how they will cover UC’s basic student fees.”
The Blue and Gold Opportunity Plan establishes a minimum level
of gift assistance for 48,100 eligible California-resident
students. In addition to having their systemwide fees fully
covered, eligible students with sufficient financial need will
receive additional grant support to help defray other educational
expenses such as books, housing, food and transportation costs,
among others. In fact, UC currently provides grant and scholarship
assistance averaging $10,300 per recipient to 54 percent of its
undergraduates. The university also will continue to ensure that
grant assistance covers at least half of the annual increase in
systemwide fees for other financially needy undergraduates with
household incomes between $60,000 and $100,000.
The Blue and Gold proposal represents a new step in UC’s efforts
to address the concern among many families, especially in periods
of economic downturn, that pursuing a higher education might be out
of their financial reach. Financial aid reduces the “sticker price”
of higher education to a much lower “net price” for many students,
and the Blue and Gold proposal seeks to make this fact more clear
and understandable to families than ever before.
Last fall, all UC campuses launched interactive Web-based
financial aid estimatorsthat allow families and students to
obtain information about UC’s costs and ways to meet those costs
specifically based on their unique financial circumstances,
including their annual income, assets and family size.
Implementation of the Blue and Gold Opportunity Plan would cost
UC an estimated $3.1 million per year and would not reduce funding
available for UC’s existing aid programs. Under the proposal, this
cost increase would be funded by increasing the amount of new fee
revenue that UC sets aside for financial aid from 33 to 36 percent.
The program would be reviewed annually, and its continuation beyond
2009-10 for both new and enrolled students would be subject to the
university’s determination of financial feasibility.
The proposal complements other initiatives currently in
development at UC to broaden access to the university. A separate
proposal coming to the Regents in February would revise UC
eligibility requirements to give a broader array of high school
students the opportunity to have their qualifications considered by
UC campuses. And the university is working to expand access through
the community college transfer route — starting by expanding
transfer capacity by 500 students in 2009-10 even amid a reduction
in freshman capacity due to state funding constraints.
The Blue and Gold proposal is scheduled to be placed on the
agendaof the UC Board of Regents, which meets Feb. 3-5 in San Francisco.