Early last October, the UC Newsroom reported an 8% increase in the enrolled number of students who come from low-income families compared to two years ago in the UC System. As a whole, 39 percent of the UC’s undergraduate population comes from this demographic.
These results are based off of UC Pell Grant recipients, now standing at 70,000 students – the highest numbers recorded in UC history. In UCSB alone, the number of Pell Grant awardees rose from 6,357 students last school year to the present year’s 6,668 students, an increase of 311 students. Pell Grants are a federal, need-based program whose purpose is to provide support for students who do not have the ample financing funding to sponsor their pursuit for a secondary education.
Similarly, UCSB has also seen an increase in the number of enrolled students within the Blue & Gold Opportunity Plan. Like the Pell Grant, the Blue & Gold Opportunity Plan’s main objective is to endow students from low-income households the funding necessary to finish a university degree. Last year’s numbers more than doubled from 105 students to the current 233 students.
Asked if California’s economic woes would impact the grants available to students of the aforementioned financial standing, Michael Miller, Financial Aid’s Acting Director, said, “We are fortunate to live in California because we have the Cal Grant Program bolstering us in our efforts to maintain the affordability of a UC education. For this school year, all indications are that the program will exist and be viable to support our recipient students.”
UC President Mark G. Yudof made the same remarks during his speech at Grant High School in Sacramento last September 30. He sought to assure interested students and their parents that UC charges were not leaving out families who were going through economic difficulties. “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,” he said.
In addition to the grants offered by UCSB’s Financial Aid, Miller added that their office’s development officers are here to continuously advocate and raise awareness within the UCSB community. Although their efforts are relatively new, these have so far garnered a good amount of interest wherein donors have stepped up on the assistance that they have given to Financial Aid.
Miller went on to say that the increase of students from low-income families, combined with the financial backing that their office maintains, is a positive sign of a trend that UCSB and the whole UC system will continue to see.
Therefore, he wants to encourage students in saying, “We are here to promote undergraduate access and excellence in education. This education will be accessible to you if you have earned your way to the system, regardless of your financial situation. We are here to help you achieve the dreams of a world-class UC education.”