In a time of economic uncertainty and budget cuts, financial aid has become one of the ways that many UC Davis students have been able to afford their education.
For students, financial aid often provides a means of breathing room for parents to pay for their child’s education. It also provides a means of survival for independent students who are dependent on their financial aid checks for other means besides textbooks and tuition expenses. Without financial aid on campus, nearly 71 percent of students would not have the opportunity to study here all four years, according to Katy Maloney, interim director of financial aid at UC Davis.
“For me, getting a scholarship was the reason I came to UC Davis, or else I would not have been able to come here,” said Laura, a senior psychology major, who declined to give her last name. “I would have had to transfer from a community college instead of coming here my freshman year. My scholarship doesn’t cover everything, but it is a big help for my parents when it comes to college expenses.”
In the daily lives of students, financial aid is enormously positive and it allows almost anyone to get an education, Maloney said.
“Financial aid increases the diversity of the UC Davis student body, allowing underprivileged students to attend college. As such, it benefits not just the aid recipients, but the community as a whole. I know I was able to meet many interesting people and broaden my horizons because financial aid allowed these people to attend UC Davis,” said Artem Raskin, a junior political science major.
Some of the most common forms of financial aid available to students are grants, loans, fellowships and work-study. For undergraduates, grants are given to 60 percent, loans are given to 47 percent and fellowships are given to 6.5 percent of the population, Maloney said.
“I have full financial aid through grants for all the years I am attending UC Davis,” said Natalia Kresich, a fifth-year senior American studies major. “However, I do not think that grants alone are enough. Most students have to supplement grants with student loans.”
One financial aid opportunity that is available from the university is the Blue and Gold opportunity plan, which covers tuition and student services fees for qualified California residents who have a household income of less than $70,000 in 2010-11 year. In 2010-11, over 9,000 UC Davis students qualified for this program, according to a fact sheet for tuition fees.
For many students, the college years are the first time students are confronted with being independent, and that means concerning themselves with a budget and manage their finances, Maloney said.
“It’s very important because some people are dependent on financial aid in order to stay in school, even to the extremity of survival,” Laura said.
During the 2010-11 academic year, UC Davis’ population was near 31,000. Of those attending UC Davis, 76 percent (24,000) received some form of financial aid, which is around $479 million dollars paid, Maloney said.
Funding sources for financial aid primarily comes from federal, state, university and private individuals or corporations, Maloney said.
“Financial aid has given me the opportunity to receive a higher education by helping me to pay for tuition and textbooks,” said Cindy, who declined to use her last name, a senior Spanish and sociology double major.
As tuition fees increase, more financial aid money is returned. Out of all the undergraduate tuition fees, one-third of it goes toward financial aid for other students. All students contribute toward this, Maloney said
“UC Davis claims that the fee increases do not affect those who are receiving financial aid, but that is not the case. The reality is that more students are saying that they cannot afford to study here anymore, and we are seeing that manifest in higher drop out rates,” Kersich said.
In the 2010-11 academic year, California based undergraduate students paid $11,959 each year. Out of state students paid $33,980, according to a fact sheet for UC Davis tuition fees.
“I always wanted to get a second major in statistics, which is essentially a prerequisite for any serious political science research. Unfortunately, absent of any financial aid, staying for another year to receive another major is not really another option for me,” Raskin said.
It is often a misconception that only low income families can qualify for any form of financial aid when it comes to college expenses. However, Maloney said that medium or high income families can qualify for loans.
Financial aid has met changes throughout the recent years, such as implementing the use of direct loans. However, UC Davis financial aid has not really changed, Maloney said.
“We were already participating in direct loans since its beginning. This year, President Obama changed loans to where they would be done through the federal level rather than through the bank. This did not affect us,” Maloney said.
One change that UC Davis did face was the end of Cal Grants for summer school, which were implemented for the last two years. According to Maloney, Cal Grants will not be offered for Summer 2012.
“The recent changes in financial aid have not affected me, but the changes in tuition have, because that means more money that my parents have to pay now than before when I first started,” Laura said.
Students should file the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) each year. To receive priority consideration for state and university funding, students should be sure to apply between Jan. 1 and March 2, Maloney said.
ALICIA KINDRED can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.