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UC Serves More Low Income CA Families

University of California system-wide admissions data shows that a record-breaking 39 percent of all undergraduates enrolled for the Fall 2010 term come from low-income families.

Commissioned by the UC Office of the President, the results are drawn from data for the 70,000 students who received UC Pell Grants this year — nearly eight percent more than had been awarded the scholarships in 2008-09. Pell Grants are awarded to students from families with total annual incomes of less than $50,000.

UC President Mark G. Yudof presented the analysis last Friday at Grant High School in Sacramento, publicizing the data as representative of the university’s efforts to keep public higher education an option for state students from all socioeconomic backgrounds.

“The numbers in this analysis demonstrate that UC remains true to its charter as a public institution,” Yudof said in a press release. “Despite devastating budget cuts and higher student fees, we have managed not only to maintain, but to increase access for low-income students, and to enroll our most economically and ethnically diverse freshman class.”

According to Mike Miller, acting director of UCSB Financial Aid, Yudof requested the admissions statistics in order to evaluate the effects of recent fee increases. The resulting analysis, Miller said, reflects a reality seen firsthand in UCSB’s Office of Financial Aid.

“President Yudof’s recent comments regarding the changing socioeconomic makeup of students across the University of California System are truly reflective of the situation the Office of Financial Aid and Scholarships at UCSB faces on a daily basis,” Miller said. “We have seen unprecedented numbers of applicants and financial appeals. Our families are needier than they have ever been.”

UC spokesperson Leslie Sepuka said Yudof held the press conference at Grant High to emphasize the continued availability of a UC education for all California residents.

While a lingering economic recession and student fee increases have forced some students out of the UC system, the university has mandated that 33 percent of revenue from recent fee increases be used for financial aid purposes.

The UCOP analysis revealed that funding for scholarships and grants has tripled over the past decade — from roughly $430 million in 2000-01 to over $1.5 billion in 2010-11 — with more than 90 percent of the designated aid being awarded to undergraduate students.

Miller said the analysis reaffirms that the UC has remained dedicated to enrolling a student body representative of California’s socioeconomic diversity.

“As a member of the University of California system, we are fortunate to be able to use the federal Pell Grant funding, Cal Grant awards and funds from our University Grant program to ensure low-income students can achieve their dream of gaining a world-class education here at UCSB,” Miller said.

The analysis also reports that the percentages of first-generation college students and underrepresented students admitted to UC have increased over the last two years. Moreover, the academic quality of the incoming freshman class has also steadily improved.

According to Yudof, a broad range of students’ socioeconomic backgrounds is essential to the UC’s continued operation.

“Being a public university is about more than what we charge for tuition, although we are still a bargain by any measurement. It’s also about who we teach,” Yudof said in a press release.  “Making sure students of modest means and first-generation college students can attend UC brings to our campuses different backgrounds and perspectives that enrich the educational experience of all students.”

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One Response to UC Serves More Low Income CA Families

  1. Milan Moravec

    October 17, 2010 at 3:06 pm

    Funds for students used to pay for consultants at UC Berkeley. UC Berkeley’s recent elimination of popular sports programs highlighted endemic problems in the university’s management. Chancellor Robert J Birgeneau’s eight-year fiscal track record is dismal indeed. He would like to blame the politicians in Sacramento, since they stopped giving him every dollar he has asked for, and the state legislators do share some responsibility for the financial crisis. But not in the sense he means.
    A competent chancellor would have been on top of identifying inefficiencies in the system and then crafting a plan to fix them. Competent oversight by the UC Board of Regents and the California legislature would have required him to provide data on problems and on what steps he was taking to solve them. Instead, every year Birgeneau would request a budget increase, the regents would agree to it, and the legislature would provide. The hard questions were avoided by all concerned, and the problems just piled up to $150 million….until there was no money left.
    It’s not that Birgeneau was unaware that there were, in fact, waste and inefficiencies in the system. Faculty and staff have raised issues with senior management, but when they failed to see relevant action taken, they stopped. Finally, Birgeneau engaged some expensive ($3 million) consultants, Bain , to tell him what he should have been able to find out from the bright, engaged people in his own organization and the academic senate..
    From time to time, a whistleblower would bring some glaring problem to light, but the chancellor’s response was to dig in and defend rather than listen and act. Since UC has been exempted from most whistleblower lawsuits, there are ultimately no negative consequences for maintaining inefficiencies.
    In short, there is plenty of blame to go around. But you never want a serious crisis to go to waste. An opportunity now exists for the UC president, Board of Regents, and California legislators to jolt UC Berkeley back to life, applying some simple check-and-balance management principles. Increasing the budget is not enough; transforming senior management is necessary. The faculty, students, staff, academic senate, Cal. alumni, and taxpayers await the transformation.