TO PRESIDENT YUDOF O
N THIS YEAR’S TUITIO
N INCREASE 2
Gold program, which relieves families from paying tuition, is available to a wider income band. Much of the pressand the public seem to have bought your claim that higher tuition can actually make UC more accessible by
extending UC’s Blue and Gold program
to families with annual incomes of up to $80,000. But the high tuitionburden still falls disproportionately on those just
this cut-off, so you mitigate this obvious problem by giving students a one-year reprieve on tuition increases if they are
eligible for aid and if they come from families with incomes of $120K or less, after which they will simply have to borrow more.
You then claim that highertuition would leave the majority of UC students (55%) with undiminished or improved access. This claim is basedon two assumptions: first, that the incomes of UC graduates will continue to grow
and to grow much faster, thanthose of other Californians, much as they did during the high tech boom; and, second, that Blue and Gold meansthat most UC students on financial aid will need to borrow less in order to attend. According to your own, internal, financial aid studies, both of these assumptions are false. The first assumption isfalse because the income of UC graduates has not increased at all for the past ten years, and neither has the willingness of most students who borrow to take on greater debt. As a consequence of their growing debt-resistance, UC has a growing middle income access problem
it seems that students in the income band that takeson the greatest proportional debt are also
within the Master Plan scheme
and that 70% of Community College transfer students now go to for-profit institutions.
So, we now have a Master Plan that seemsto operate in reverse. The second assumption is false because raising the Blue and Gold income cap from $60K to $70K, and now to aproposed level of $80K, is not fully paid for by the 33% return-to-aid generated by higher tuition, which the public,has been led to believe. It is, rather, funded
and much more so as the cap goes up
by increasing the amount
that all students are expected to provide as “self
help” (their “loan/work expectation”). This higher amount willthen be subtracted from their total “financial need” before aid packages are awarded.
Your Financial Aid Directors have therefore
criticized Blue and Gold as a “a political plan, not a practical plan” for
improving middle income access,
because, as the Blue and Gold eligibility increases, the 63% of UC students now on financial aid would each receive smaller aid packages, and thus be expected to earn or borrow more for theireducation.
So, yes, the “full financial need” of students will be funded, but the definition of “full financial need” will
so that all students currently eligible for financial aid, including those from very poor families, will be
This reprieve only softens the immediate blow of the tuition increases for
students in this income band (probably no more than40%) and is irrelevant to the permanent effect of the increases on student access and student debt.
Colleen Moore and Nancy Shulock, “Divided We Fail: Improving Completion and Closing Racial Gaps in California’s Community Colleges,”
In 2008, just before the financial crash, you commissioned a study on how to improve middle income access if UC followed your plan toincrease tuition indefinitely. The commission, which was chaired by Berkeley Chancellor Birgeneau, reported that family contributionstoward a UC degree for those on full financial aid came to about 8% of their income in 2008, but that they steeply rose to 17% at the $90K income level financial aid phased out and full tuition phased in; it then fell back to 8% for incomes at c. $200K, while continuing to declineas family income rose and tuition remained constant. (If the top 1% paid 17% of their declared family income for each child attending UCtheir total cost of attendance would be $306K, which is 9x what they presently pay.) The commission concluded that students from families earning $70-
140K were (or would soon be) at a “tipping point” in terms of
willingness to borrow more to pay for tuition increases, and recommended the return-to-aid from undergraduate tuition from 33% to 45%in order to put more money into financial aid as tuition grew. This recommendation came just before the financial crash, when tuition shotup by 32% (to c. $10K) even as student financial need was dramatically increasing. But you did not follow it. Instead you decided torepackage
existing funds (Pell Grants, Cal Grants and UC Grants) as UC’s “Blue and Gold Opportunity Plan”—
which is essentially atuition discount based on family income alone (i.e., without considering other need factors. UC Financial Aid Directors have opposed Blue
and Gold as “a political plan, not a practical plan” to address the middle income squeeze identified by the Birgeneau commiss
reason for their opposition is that UC’s Blue and Gold eligibility formula is base
d on a single factor (family income), and thus implicitly diverts the UC grant funds generated by higher tuition away from students whose financial need is based on other factors. A deeper reason,discussed above, is that funding to raise the Blue and Gold cap will come increasingly from reduced the financial aid packages that go to all
students in need. “
Strategic Options for Guaranteeing Long-Term Financial Accessibility for UC Undergraduates
,” (March 2008), posted at