UC Berkeley News
Press Release

UC Berkeley Press Release

Chancellor announces program to assist needy students with financial aid

– A new program initiated by University of California, Berkeley, Chancellor Robert Birgeneau will double the impact of personal gifts made by members of the campus community to UC Berkeley endowment funds that provide needy undergraduate and graduate students with financial aid.

In "Our Promise. Their Future. Chancellor's Challenge for Student Support," Birgeneau has set aside discretionary funds to match gifts and pledges, dollar for dollar, that are given by active or retired faculty or staff, by students, and by the surviving spouses or partners of faculty and staff, to UC Berkeley's endowment for need-based scholarships or fellowships. Gifts in any amount - up to $250,000 - will be matched.

The program will be in place through June 30, 2012, with the possibility of renewal beyond that time.

"Providing access to education - access based on the ability to achieve, not on the ability to pay - is one of the highest values I find in our campus community," said Birgeneau. "People express that value in many ways; for some, it is donating to Berkeley's endowment for student support. This new program will double the value of such personal investments in our students and, I hope, encourage new donors from the campus."

According to campus admissions officials, the average family income for students newly admitted to UC Berkeley today is $80,000. But they add that the campus continues to see an increasing number of admission offers to students whose parents earn less than $30,000 a year, and to students whose parents never attended college.

About 30 percent of freshmen and transfer students at UC Berkeley report family incomes of less than $40,000, and that percentage roughly corresponds to UC Berkeley student eligibility for (low income) federal Pell Grants, statistics from the campus's Office of Student Research show. UC Berkeley enrolls more Pell Grant students than do all the Ivy League colleges and universities combined, according to campus data.

UC Berkeley's eroding ability to compete financially with its private peers was a prime motivator for the chancellor in setting up the matching gift program. Until the 1990s, UC Berkeley's state funding roughly equaled the payout of a healthy endowment at a comparable private university. But when Harvard University's endowment passed the $10 billion mark in 1994, it set a new standard for financial support in higher education, upping the ante for institutions that compete for top students and academic preeminence.

UC Berkeley annually raises impressive sums in private support, last year bringing in $347 million, including gifts from 61,300 individual donors. But with its state funding remaining steady but stagnant, UC Berkeley needs to grow its endowment to maintain its leadership, campus officials say.

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