UC Berkeley educates comparatively high number of low-income students

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Ben Mefford/Staff
The U.S. Office of Postsecondary Education finds that UC Berkeley, compared to its student body population and other public and private institutions, educates more lower-income students while also equitably providing several educational expense programs.

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According to information from the U.S. Office of Postsecondary Education, UC Berkeley educates a high number of lower-income students in relation to its student body, especially when compared to other universities.

In the 2020-2021 school year, 26% of undergraduate students on campus received the Pell Grant, a federal grant program given to low-income students across the country, said campus spokesperson Adam Ratliff. 

“All students admitted to Berkely have limitless potential and we know that some may have limited means,” Ratliff said in an email. “Investing in Berkeley students is investing in an engine of economic mobility that benefits California and the world.”

Overall, in the 2019-2020 school year, 63% of students received some kind of financial aid on campus, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.

These numbers are significantly higher than some private colleges and universities.

According to the campus Office of Planning and Analysis, in data collected from 2018, campus awarded Pell Grants to 28% of its undergraduate students. Private institutions like Harvard, Stanford and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology educated a lower percentage — 19%, 16% and 18%, respectively — in the same year.

Ratliff added that some campus students can finish their degrees without loan debt of any kind. He noted that between July 2018 and June 2019, 68% of undergraduate students graduated without loan debt from Federal Direct or Unsubsidized Loans, Federal Perkins Loans or private loans.

“We are thankful to have both federal and state grants, as well as campus scholarships, a robust work-study program and a loan program to help students pay for their educational expenses,” Ratliff said in the email.

Besides Pell Grants, Ratliff noted several existing programs to help students with various expenses, like books, housing, food and transportation.

The Emergency Rental Assistance Program, the Basic Needs Center, the Housing Security Deposit Award Fund and short-term loans in case of emergency are all available to students to assist with such expenses, he said. 

“We understand that financing an education, including at UC Berkeley, is challenging for many students and families,” Ratliff said in the email. “The well-being of our students is critical, and we want to make sure students know there are resources available year-round.”

Contact Sebastian Cahill at [email protected], and follow him on Twitter at @SebastianCahil1.