The University of California administration is helping to give students a hand-up in paying for their college education.
Last week, UC president Mark Yudof announced new efforts that would extend financial aid for undergraduate students and also raise $1 billion for student scholarships.
Yudof said he would ask the UC Board of Regents to raise the limit for the Blue and Gold Opportunity financial aid plan to include families with a yearly income of $70,000 or less. The current limit covers incomes of $60,000 or less and awards full coverage of university fees for undergraduates.
“This is an era in which a college education is absolutely essential to your economic and other wellbeing,” Yudof said in a speech at Sunnyside High School. “Our job is to give you every fair chance for admission to one of our 10 campuses – and to give you the means to pay for it.”
Yudof also unveiled “Project You Can,” a four-year fundraising effort by the 10 UC campuses to raise $1 billion in scholarship money. Though the UC Office of the President will not contribute directly to this plan, they hope to inspire the campuses to raise more money for students.
The money will directly support students by funding scholarships and fellowships rather than salaries or construction.
“It’s a wonderful program to really push this philanthropic effort to the highest priority,” said Fred Wood, vice chancellor of student affairs and spokesperson for the “Project You Can” plan. “All the colleges and professional schools have always been involved in trying to raise money for student support. But [the plan] basically doubles what we’ve been doing [in the last five years].”
Last fiscal year, UC Davis received $5 million from donors for various types of student scholarships or grants. The administration hopes to engage more donors this year in concert with the “Project You Can” plan to bring this number to $1 billion.
The regents hoped that the plan would assuage fears over the 32 percent proposed student fee increases, which would be implemented in the spring and fall of 2010. The regents will vote on the increases later this month.
“[The donations] will increase the amount of money given to students through undergraduate scholarships,” said Mark Foncannon, assistant director of financial aid for undergraduate scholarships. “It probably will also mean more awards to more students.”
Among the proposed fee increases to be voted on by the UC Regents in November are: a $585 mid-year increase for residential undergraduates, $633 for nonresident undergraduates, $654 for resident graduates, $681 for nonresident graduates and $579 for resident and non resident professional students.
For the 2010-11 fee increases, the regents propose a $1344 increase for resident undergraduates, a $1148 increase for nonresident undergraduates, a $1506 increase for resident graduates, a $1566 increase for nonresident graduates and a $1332 increase for all resident and non resident professional students.
Many university affiliates agree that Yudof’s “Project You Can” plan is a step in the right direction, but that it will not completely solve the University’s budgetary dilemma.
“President Yudof is doing the right thing by trying to obtain funding from private sources in order to keep students from giving up and walking away,” said Cristina Gonzalez, professor of UC Davis’ School of Education in an e-mail interview.
Professor Gonzalez expressed support for Yudof’s plans but sees long-term investment from the state as the solution.
“In order for the UC to fulfill its public mission, a considerable investment of state and/or federal funds will be necessary,” she said. “No country in the world has ever created and sustained a large middle class without a large investment in public higher education.”
The fee increases are part of an effort by the UC to cope with the state’s cuts to education. In 2008-2009, the state government reduced $813 million in funding to the UCs. In 2009-2010, an additional $637 million cut was made.
“Sometimes those dollars can really make a difference,” Wood said. “And I’m positive that the Regents will be talking to their friends [about donating to scholarships.] I wouldn’t be surprised if the regents themselves stepped up and donated.”
LESLIE TSAN can be reached at email@example.com.