Under the policy, known as the Blue and Gold Opportunity Plan, undergraduates who are in their first four years of attendance at UC -- or two for transfer students -- will 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.
"This plan is intended not only to make our financial aid message clearer, but to encourage more low-income students to apply to the University of California," said UC President Mark G. Yudof. "There is no better time than during this period of economic hardship to reassure families and students that UC is financially accessible. The Blue and Gold Opportunity Plan sends a simple but powerful message to these families that the University of California is committed to helping them cover the cost of a college education."
The Blue and Gold Opportunity Plan will initially provide 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. About half the students in this income range already receive gift aid averaging $5,800 a year.
Yudof told the Regents that despite having a robust financial aid program and enrolling more low-income students (about 33 percent of all undergraduates) than any other top research university, UC needs to counter more effectively the perception that its costs, especially student fee charges, make the university financially inaccessible to students of modest means.
Financial aid reduces the "sticker price" of higher education to a much lower "net price" for many students, and the Blue and Gold plan will make this fact more clear and understandable to families than ever before.
In addition to the Blue and Gold plan, UC has been taking other steps to address the concern among many families, especially in periods of economic downturn, that pursuing higher education might be out of their financial reach.
For example, last fall, all UC campuses launched interactive Web-based financial aid estimators that 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. These estimators are available at www.universityofcalifornia.edu/admissions/paying.html.
Implementation of the Blue and Gold Opportunity Plan will cost UC an estimated $3.1 million per year and will not reduce funding available for UC's existing aid programs. The cost increase necessary to run the program will be funded by increasing the amount of new fee revenue that UC sets aside for financial aid from 33 to 36 percent. The program will be reviewed annually, and its continuation beyond 2009-10 for both new and enrolled students will be subject to the university's determination of financial feasibility.
For details about the Blue and Gold Opportunity Plan, visit www.universityofcalifornia.edu/blueandgold.
For more news and information about the University of California: www.universityofcalifornia.edu