UC Davis used President Barack Obama’s call for curbing college costs to tout its new financial aid plan, which will benefit about 500 undergraduate students this fall whose families earn between $80,000 and $120,000 annually.
“UC Davis is committed to keeping its world-class education affordable and accessible to all qualified students,” Chancellor Linda Katehi said in a news release on Thursday. “We share President Obama’s commitment to supporting middle-class families, containing costs and providing greater transparency and accountability.”
The Aggie Grant Plan awards about $3,000 annually to eligible students, enough grant or scholarship money to cover about 25 percent of systemwide tuition and fees.
It picks up where UC’s Blue and Gold Opportunity Plan leaves off. That program covers base tuition and fees for students with annual family incomes of up to $80,000.
The president has proposed a new rating system for colleges, grading them on tuition cost, average student loan debt, graduation rates and the average earnings of alumni. Federal funding could be tied to the formula. Student at highly rated schools could receive better loan deals and larger grants.
Obama also seeks to reward institutions who graduate greater percentages of students who receive Pell Grants and require colleges with high dropout rates to distribute aid over the course of a semester, not in lump sums.
The president is also backing a $1 billion college version of the “Race to the Top”-style competition rewarding states that make changes to higher ed while controlling tuition costs.
UCD noted other steps it said were in sync with the president’s higher-ed push, including:
* Using the U.S. Department of Education’s recommended Financial Aid Shopping Sheet, a new standardized form intended to allow families to more easily compare costs across colleges;
* Adding 5,000 students by 2020 as part of the campus’ 2020 Initiative;
* Moving to “incentive-based” budgeting, under which colleges and professional schools are allocated funds based on student credit hours, majors and degrees awarded;
* Partnering with the Associated Students of UC Davis on an effort to better prepare students to search for jobs and better connect them with alumni in industry;
* Consolidating finance, payroll, human resources and information technology from six administrative divisions with a goal of saving an estimated $25 million between 2012 and 2016 and $10 million annually thereafter; and
* Increasing energy efficiency, a systemwide effort that has saved $91 million since 2004 and is expected to save $37 million more this year as new projects come online.
A committee of students, staff, faculty and alumni also compiled a report recently on the undergraduate experience at UCD. Among its findings was a need to improve counseling, in part in keeping with UC’s goal to speed time to graduation.
For the Davis class that entered in 2006, 81 percent of students graduated within six years.
The state cut more than one-third of UC’s funding starting in 2007-08. UC and its Board of Regents responded with a controversial series of tuition increases and launching the Blue and Gold plan.
In-state tuition and fees at the Davis campus will total $13,896 for 2013-14. Tack on room and board, insurance, books, personal expenses and transportation, and the campus estimates the annual cost per student at $32,168.
In 2008-09, tuition and fees stood at $9,497.
During the last academic year, UCD undergraduates received more than $260 million in scholarships and grants. About 44 percent received Pell Grants. According to UCD, 53 percent of its undergrads received enough financial aid to cover their base tuition and fees in 2011-12.
Of those who earned bachelor’s degrees, 56 percent took out loans. Those with debt owed an average of $18,000. UCD grads have a three-year loan default rate of 3 percent, compared to the national average of 13.4 percent.
— The Associated Press contributed to this report.