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Financial aid protects low-income UC students from tuition increases

The University of California enrolls a higher percentage of low-income undergraduate students than any other top research university in the country, and the cost of attendance for those students is virtually unchanged from 10 years ago.

Those are just two of the noteworthy findings in UC’s annual Accountability Report released this week. The annual report, part of UC’s transparency and accountability efforts, offers comprehensive data on how well the university is doing on key indicators related to teaching, research and public service.

The report shows that UC’s robust financial aid program has helped keep costs relatively flat for undergraduate students coming from households with incomes of $100,000 or less, even as sharp cuts in state funding have forced the university to increase tuition rates.

Roughly 45 percent of students who graduated with a bachelor’s degree in 2011–12 had no student loan debt. And of those who did borrow, the average amount was $20,200 — about $5,000 less than national averages at other public four-year universities and far lower than average debt loads for students attending private four-year institutions.

“As the state’s premiere public university, UC has always made access and affordability for Californians a top priority,” said Provost Aimée Dorr. “The data show that UC has stayed true to that commitment.”

This year, for the first time, the report also includes income data from the state labor rolls, underscoring the economic value of a college degree, both for the students themselves and to the California economy.

For example, UC alumni who enter the California workforce move fairly quickly up the income ladder. Ten years after completing a bachelor’s degree, the average annual income for UC alumni is $86,700. By comparison, the average income for all full-time working adults in California is roughly $63,000. Across disciplines, the majority of UC bachelor’s degree-holders see their earnings double in the period between two and 10 years after graduation.

UC’s Pell Grant recipients — who come from families with incomes below $50,000 — also see a significant rise in earnings. Within five years of entering the job market, more than half of Pell Grant recipients who completed a UC bachelor’s degree and work in California have incomes that surpass the incomes of the households from which they entered the university.

“Graduates leave our campuses and move up in the world, contributing to groundbreaking research and to key sectors of the economy,” Dorr said.

Some other highlights:

  • UC awards more than 30 percent of the state’s bachelor degrees, 60 percent of its PhDs and more than 60 percent of its medical professional practice degrees.
  • UC graduates overwhelmingly stay in the state: Of UC’s 1.6 million living alumni, 1.2 million reside in California.
  • UC performs nearly one-tenth of all academic research and development conducted in the United States.
  • Since 1976, more than 650 startup companies have been launched around UC inventions, 80 percent of them based in California.

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