The University of California system's board of regents is considering a proposal to extend financial aid covering full tuition to families earning under $60,000 per year. The change, suggested by University of California President Mark Yudof, is still under review and will likely be voted on next month.
The concerns that motivate this move are becoming more pressing and are shared by many figures in higher education. The University of California, like other state university systems, is facing budget cuts and plans to increase tuition in response. California is also one of the states hardest hit by the recession, especially the collapse of the housing market. There is widespread concern that these factors may put a college education out of reach for many. The University of California system also serves a relatively large number of low-income and moderate-income students, so Yudof's proposal could potentially benefit a substantial portion of the student body.
Despite economic hardship and shrinking endowments, California is not alone in considering increases to college scholarships and grants for students struggling the most financially. A number of prestigious schools have eliminated student loans for less affluent students in recent years. These significant financial aid packages may be becoming more of a draw students this year, as many of the most prestigious and most generous schools are reporting double-digit increases in applications for the 2009-2010 academic year.