Students enrolling this fall are among the first to benefit from a new financial aid plan introduced at the University of California, Davis, to help middle-class California students and families.
The Aggie Grant Plan is among UC Davis measures addressing President Obama's package of proposals, shared during a recent bus tour, to make colleges more accountable and affordable — including an emphasis on helping the middle class pay for college.
The president's call is timely as UC Davis students today (Aug. 22) received estimates of their financial aid for the fall quarter beginning Sept. 26.
UC Davis Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi said Obama's plan is also UC Davis' plan. "UC Davis is committed to keeping its world-class education affordable and accessible to all qualified students," she said. "We share President Obama's commitment to supporting middle-class families, containing costs and providing greater transparency and accountability."
In addition to the Aggie Grant Plan, other UC Davis activities in the spirit of Obama's proposal include:
- using Obama's recommended Financial Aid Shopping Sheet to help students and their families compare financial aid packages offered by various colleges;
- launching the UC Davis Jobs Initiative to improve students' employment prospects before and after graduation;
- planning to expand opportunities by adding up to 5,000 students by 2020 through the 2020 Initiative; between 2010 and 2012, undergraduate enrollment grew by more than 1,000; and
- with state funding cut by 34 percent, or $150 million, since 2007-08, containing costs through initiatives for energy efficiency, re-engineering and consolidating administrative functions, and the introduction of an incentive-based budget model.
About 500 students will benefit from the Aggie Grant Plan, which awards about $3,000 annually to eligible undergraduates whose annual family incomes are between $80,000 and $120,000. Under the plan, students receive enough grant or scholarship funding to cover about 25 percent of base or systemwide tuition and fees.
The plan builds on the University of California's Blue and Gold Opportunity Plan, which expands access for lower-income students. The Blue and Gold plan covers base tuition and fees for students with annual family incomes of up to $80,000.
Collectively, UC Davis undergraduates received more than $260 million in scholarships and grants during the last academic year. About 44 percent of undergraduates received Pell Grants, federal grants for low-income students.
In 2011-12, more than half of all UC Davis undergraduates — 53 percent — received enough financial aid to fully cover their base tuition and fees, and 44 percent of those who earned bachelor’s degrees did so without taking out loans.
For those who did graduate with debt, the average indebtedness was about $18,000. UC Davis graduates have a three-year loan default rate of 3 percent, low compared to 13.4 percent for the national average.
The percentage of UC Davis undergraduates who graduate within six years remains high, at 81 percent for the class that entered in fall 2006.
Katehi said UC Davis aims to make education available for all. About three in 10 new freshmen are from low-income families and would be in the first generation of their family to graduate from a four-year university.
Striving to make a university education affordable and accessible to all, she said, is not only in the highest interest of the individual and society, but it also makes good economic sense. A recent report from the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities said college graduates earn nearly twice as much as high school graduates, according to estimates based on data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.