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Afford a UC College Education? Yes, You Can!

New America Media, Commentary, Mark Yudof Posted: Nov 11, 2008

Editor's note: Families worried about the financial burden of sending their children to college should be reassured: the University of California offers grants and scholarships, work-study jobs and low-interest loans to make it more affordable. Now is the time to submit applications, and UC President encourages students to apply to the system's institutions as the best investment in their futures. Mark Yudof is president of the University of California system.

Traduccin al espaol

In the next few weeks, tens of thousands of California high school seniors, with help from families, teachers and friends, will make one of the most important decisions of their young adult lives: where to apply for college.

Making that choice is even tougher this year in the face of a national economic crisis that has understandably heightened concerns among many parents and students about precisely which colleges they can afford to attend.

But in a knowledge-based global economy, where highly skilled workers are required, investing in a college education today is the best decision a student can make.

As families evaluate their options, some may fear that top research universities, such as the University of California, may be too expensive and out of their reach.

I want to reassure those families this is not the case at UC, and before they make their decision, I urge them to consider:

UC enrolls a larger share of low-income students, nearly one-third of our talented student body last year, than any comparable university, public or private.

More than half of our undergraduates receive grants and scholarships, averaging $10,300 a year, and nearly two-thirds are eligible for subsidized work-study jobs or low-interest loans.

Loans are a difficult decision for every family, but UC graduates are in a strong position to manage repayment, particularly given their estimated average starting salary of over $40,000 per year.

In addition, UC redirects a third of all fee increases back into financial aid for students who need it.

We take very seriously our responsibility as the state's only public research university to keep a world-class education within reach of California's families.

I strongly encourage all students who have worked hard to prepare themselves for college to apply to the University of California. Our online application for undergraduate admission is now open, with the filing period running throughout the month of November.

I also recommend that families take advantage of the "financial aid calculators" each UC campus has recently developed to provide individual students with estimates of the grant assistance students with similar financial circumstances might expect at UC. The calculators can be accessed at: www.universityofcalifornia.edu

No matter which of UC's nine undergraduate campuses you choose, you will get a great and affordable education with stellar professors and exceptional students from all parts of California, the nation and the world.

While money is tight for everybody, even universities, what you gain from investing in a UC education now will pay life-long dividends throughout your career.

At UC, our students become part of a thousands-strong network of dedicated, accomplished people who use their talents every day to improve life in California and across the globe. We invite California's students to come shape the future with us. The future of California depends on it.

Spanish Translation: La Universidad de California: Una inversin en su futuro.

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