To the editor:
Your story “Student subsidies of classmates’ tuition add to anger over rising college costs” (August 29, 2012) presents a highly inaccurate impression of the financial-aid assistance and access to classes provided by the University of California, Berkeley.
Context is important here, and your readers should know that 65 percent of our undergraduate students receive some form of financial aid. This includes merit scholarships for international students and out-of-state students who are eligible for scholarships, grants, work-study and loans. Further, we are proud of the fact that fully 40 percent of our undergraduates pay no tuition.
Among middle-class families, students from families that earn less than $80,000 and qualify for aid pay no tuition. And under UC Berkeley’s ground-breaking Middle Class Access Plan, parents of students from the United States with incomes from $80,000 to $140,000 a year pay no more than 15 percent of their annual income toward the annual in-state cost of a UC Berkeley education.
It is true that California residents pay less in tuition than students from outside California. We are, of course, a public university that is partially funded by the state. It is state law that non-Californians must pay tuition equal to the full cost of their education. These additional fees paid by out-of-state and international students benefit all students who attend UC Berkeley: In recent years, these funds have helped us add more than 150 primary course offerings for select courses and more than 450 secondary sections, including discussion sessions and labs. More than 75 percent of our undergraduate courses have fewer than 30 students in a class. Students are gaining access to the classes they need, and they are graduating on time. The average time-to-degree for Berkeley students is eight semesters.
UC Berkeley remains one of the world’s leading universities—we consistently rank among the top five universities in the world, public or private—and we are committed to providing access to a broad cross-section of students.
Enrolling more international students and students from across the country, along with students from across California’s many communities, provides all students with a richer educational experience, exposing them to students from many cultures, backgrounds, experiences and perspectives. Our students from California are top scholars and, on average, their counterparts from outside of the state have higher GPAs and test scores.
During a time of financial challenge for many public universities, we are proud of our efforts to ensure access to world-class teaching to students from many income levels, socioeconomic background and interests. And when our students graduate, the 42 percent who have taken out loans are $17,000 in debt, on average—which is far below the average debt of students graduating from peer institutions.
Anne M. De Luca
Associate Vice Chancellor for Admissions and Enrollment
University of California, Berkeley