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When Middle Class Families Can’t Afford College

When Middle Class Families Can’t Afford College

While admissions of wealthy and low-income students have grown in recent years at the University of California at Berkeley, those for students from middle-class families have remained static. Concerned that more and more middle-class students are foregoing California’s public universities for private ones that offer more generous aid packages, officials announced that they are planning to increase financial aid for students from middle-class families starting in the fall of 2012.

“As a public institution we feel strongly that we need to sustain and expand access across the socioeconomic spectrum,” said Berkeley chancellor, Robert J. Birgeneau in the New York Times, which summarized the plan:

Berkeley’s definition of middle-class in creating its new financial aid program is a family with income between $80,000 and $140,000 a year. On top of the parental contribution of 15 percent of income, students would also have to pay about $8,000 per year — generally a combination of loans, work-study and private scholarships. At the bottom end of the spectrum, that would make for a total payment of $20,000, a 37.5 percent discount off the $32,000 total of tuition, room and board for California residents. On the upper end, it would be about $29,000, or a 10 percent discount.

Tuition at Berkeley is $32,000 and is projected to rise sharply over the next few years. Just the day before the University made its announcement, Governor Jerry Brown had cut its budget by $100 million after California state revenues fell more than $2.2 billion below projections. Nonetheless, UC spokesperson Steve Montiel said in the Daily Californian that the cuts to the UC budget will not be passed on to the various campuses around the state, but will be “absorbed by the UC Office of the President.”

The new program is projected to cost $12 million per year and is to be funded through out-of-state and international student tuition and private donations. Out-of-state students, who currently make up 30 percent of Berkeley’s freshman class, will also receive comparable discounts on the first $32,000 of their tuition and fees, but will also still have to pay an additional $23,000.

My mother’s father, my parents, my sister, almost all of my aunts and uncles and first cousins attended UC Berkeley. Everyone felt fortunate that, right in our  backyard, was a world-class university. My family is staunchly middle-class; everyone attended public school and growing up, I considered the words “Cal” and “Berkeley” synonymous with “college.” As a high school senior, I ended up deciding not to attend the only college I knew and went back east to an institution whose tuition seemed astronomical — but now, UC Berkeley’s tuition is the same as, and even less than, that of some private colleges.

Student debt and the rising costs of college have been frequently mentioned by the Occupy protesters. As Mark Kantrowitz, who operates the financial aid website says in the New York Times: “When tuition is going up, that can have a chilling effect, but something like this has an emotional effect that works as a recruiting tool. It sends the message that we know everybody struggles to pay for college.”

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9:19AM PST on Dec 19, 2011

Mike C, I understand your point, but first, let me say this. When diplomas are handed out, they should post the graduates standing in the class.

Wouldn't frighten you, when you look up to on the wall find that your surgeon graduated 499th is a class of 500.

There are many talented professors at America's many colleges and there are others that bring about a thought. "Those who can do, those that can't do, teach." I saw a lot of that when I went to audit classes at a number of local colleges, it made me hurry back to the University.

Repost, due to several errors in sentence construction, Thanks Mike C

5:00PM PST on Dec 18, 2011

Thank you

8:43AM PST on Dec 18, 2011

I agree completely. THANK GOD FOR PELL GRANTS. After all, if it weren't for Grants and Scholarships, my older son would not be in college, where he's in Honor's College and on the Dean's list, where he has been since his Freshman year. He is now a 5th year senior, who is majoring in Education and History, with a minor in Political Science, who is about to run for Precinct Committee Person for the Democratic Party.

8:16PM PST on Dec 17, 2011

@Past Member: "There is a HUGE SURPLUS."

Really? The State of Illinois' report shows a $36.9 BILLION DEFICIT. This is a full $10.3 Billion more than the previous year. Where's the surplus? Illinois is barely staying ahead of receivership. Maybe your state is fine, but ours certainly isn't.

8:11PM PST on Dec 17, 2011

See!? I told you (I inserted an apostrophe in "Americans") ;~)

8:05PM PST on Dec 17, 2011

Can't think of a better way to further the republican agenda than to keep American's uneducated. Think Sarah Palin.

6:23PM PST on Dec 16, 2011 This Documentary is VERY infomative though I had to stop often & take many notes. Suffice to say: ALL States, towns, cities are run by corporations. It's THEIR JOB to tell ppl how BROKE they are so they can justify raising taxes without a public outcry. If you want to see the surplus's of Any State: Google:" Comprehensive Annual Financial Reports' then your state. This shows the profits, assets, holdings, pension funds your state brings in] People need to educate themselves when these politicians start slashing school budget funds, care for the elderly, school lunches ect~ There is a HUGE SURPLUS.~They want to rely on cassinos & lotteries, rather than generate income. This is how they fool people & this is HOW they get away with it~

5:53PM PST on Dec 16, 2011

Mike C, I understand your point, but first, let me say this. When diplomas are had out, they should post ones standing in the class.

Wouldn't frighten you, when you up to on the wall find that your surgeon graduated 499th is a class of 500.

There are many talented professionals at America's colleges and there are others that bring about a thought. "Those who can, do, those that can't do, teach." There was a lot of that when I went to audit a classes at a number of local colleges, it made me hurry back to the University.

4:20PM PST on Dec 16, 2011

Community College is half the price of state college and state college is much cheaper than private. Students who work hard in high school can be in programs that give them college credit while still in high school. When I went to college I clepped (tested out of) my first year and I had learning disabilities. You can stay at home and attend community college for at least two years. Some community colleges have 4 year programs. Many cities have 4 year universities as well. You can also take on line classes while living at home.

12:53PM PST on Dec 16, 2011

Do what a lot of people do, go to a local 2 year college which is much cheaper making sure credits transfer and then go part time while working, it may take longer but much less debt at the end. That's what I did, lived at home for the first 2 years attending community college and delivered pizza's and washed dishes the last 3 years.

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