Financial aid option for middle-income students announced

UC Davis announced the Aggie Grant financial aid plan April 18, effective this upcoming 2013-14 school year. The plan aims to aid the university’s California-resident, middle-class students with baseline tuition.

Qualifying students with family incomes ranging from $80,000 to $120,000 could offset at least 25 percent of their base tuition and fees through this grant that, for the 2013-14 school year, will be at least $3,048.

“Many students with family incomes over $80,000 have been eligible for financial aid. However, students and prospective students do not necessarily realize that. The Aggie Grant Program provides students just out of reach of the Blue and Gold Program with the assurance that they will receive grant assistance to help cover their cost of attending UC Davis,” said Kelly Ratliff, associate vice chancellor of Budget and Institutional Analysis.

Though students will still be eligible for other financial aid plans, no student will receive more grant or scholarship support than their calculated financial need.

Director of the UC Davis Financial Aid Office Katy Maloney said the options available to middle-class students are more limited.

“At that income level, there’s a lot less opportunity with federal and state grant programs … As a campus, we have listened to the growing concerns from students and their families about the financial struggles of paying for an education,” she said. “However, we recognized that middle-income families need financial support that wasn’t available elsewhere.”

Students who qualify after filing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) will receive grants on a need basis within the middle-class income range.

“Students are awarded financial aid based on the principles of the UC Education Financing Model,” Maloney said. “University Grant funds are awarded to eligible students based on their need. Because funding is limited, award availability is also based on their FAFSA or Dream Act application filing date, whose priority deadline is March 2.”

She adds that as of now, Aggie Grants have only been packaged and offered to approximately 600 incoming class of 2017 admits. The grants to other enrolled students are still being processed.

The university has been looking into other options to provide monetary support in response to the conversation surrounding the increasing urgency to lessen the financial strain of college tuition on middle-class families.

Campaign for UC Davis, a university-wide initiative, has been in place since 2006 with the goal of raising $1 billion philanthropically from 100,000 donors by December 2014. Much of this money has been supported through campus-based scholarship funding.

As of March 3, the campaign has accumulated $931 million — roughly two-thirds of its goal.

“The dollars are put to use as soon as they’re received,” said Jason Wohlman, associate vice chancellor for University Development. “They’ve provided scholarship awards since 2006, unless it’s for a facilities campaign where we have to hold dollars until we’ve reached the needed amount.”

Major contributors such as the The Boyd Family Foundation, UC Davis alumna Ann Pitzer, The Davis School of Education, and most recently, The UC Davis Foundation Board of Trustees, among many others, have fundraised and donated millions to funding various scholarships.

“In December, [the] UC Davis Foundation Board of Trustees announced the creation of a new $1 million-plus matching fund initiative, The UC Davis Foundation Matching Fund for Student Support. This fundraising initiative was created by personal donations from current and emeriti members of the UC Davis Foundation Board of Trustees and university leadership to help UC Davis students,” said Sarah Colwell, senior manager of development and marketing communications, in an email interview. “The matching fund has already inspired more than $3.5 million in gifts to date.”

One qualifying student felt they would benefit from the Aggie Grant plan.

“Even though lower-income students need more [financial aid], I still can’t afford college without it,” said first-year linguistics major Adrienne Jones. “Coming from a primarily economically single-headed household, we can definitely feel the financial strain. The Aggie Grant seems like a positive way for my family to accumulate less debt for that year.”

For more information, visit financialaid.ucdavis.edu.

GABRIELLA HAMLETT can be reached at campus@theaggie.org.

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