Lavish UC scholarship program again ignored by media

June 15, 2013

By Chris Reed

blueandgoldThe Sacramento Bee has a long story up on its website about an unpublished Legislative Analyst’s Office analysis that pooh-poohs Assembly Speaker John Perez’s plan to help middle-class families afford college.

“A massive middle-class scholarship program in the proposed state budget ranked last among options for increasing college access in findings prepared, but not released publicly, by the nonpartisan Legislative Analyst’s Office.

“Pushed hard by Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez, the middle-class scholarship plan was approved by a joint legislative conference committee as part of a wide-ranging budget deal struck by legislative leaders and Gov. Jerry Brown.

“Affordability is Perez’s target – not the college access issue cited by the LAO, said John Vigna, Pérez’s spokesman.”

Gigantic, generous and mysteriously anonymous

Incredibly, inexplicably and in keeping with California media traditions, however, Sac Bee reporter Jim Sanders never even mentions the UC Blue and Gold Opportunity Plan program.

If you’ve never heard of it, than it must be stingy and tough to take advantage of, right? Wrong.

Who qualifies for the UC Blue + Gold Opportunity Plan?

“UC’s Blue and Gold Opportunity Plan will cover your educational and student services fees if you are a California resident whose family earns less than $80,000 a year and you qualify for financial aid — and that’s just for starters. Blue + Gold students with sufficient financial need can qualify for even more grant aid to help reduce the cost of attending.”

What it takes to be eligible

“Be a California resident or qualify for a nonresident tuition exemption under AB 540

“Demonstrate income below $80,000 with financial need, as determined for federal need-based aid program

“Be in your first four years as a UC undergraduate (first two for transfer students)

“Meet other campus basic requirements for UC grant aid (for example, be enrolled at least half-time during the academic year, meet campus academic progress standards, not be in default on student loans, etc.

“Submit a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) or, if you’re an eligible non-citizen, aCalifornia Dream Act application by March 2.

“Make sure your school submits a GPA verification form to the Cal Grant program, or download the form, have your school fill it out and send it to the California Student Aid Commission

“Under the plan, your systemwide fees will be fully covered by scholarship or grant money if you are in your first four years at UC (two if you’re a transfer student).

“The plan combines all sources of scholarship and grant awards you receive (federal, state, UC and private) to count toward covering your fees. If, for example, you receive Pell and Cal Grants and private scholarships that don’t fully cover your fees, UC grant money will make up the difference.

“Students with greater financial need can qualify for even more grant support to help defray other educational expenses (like books, housing, transportation, etc.) In 2010-11, UC provided grant and scholarship assistance averaging $14,514 per student to more than half of undergraduates.”

Isn’t Blue & Gold’s existence newsworthy? Only to Reed and Asimov

This is a huge and generous program. If Perez wants to supplement it, shouldn’t the media, yunno, mention that it exists?

Well, no. As far as I know, the only people working for California daily newspapers who routinely mention the Blue and Gold Opportunity Plan when writing about college affordability are me and Nanette Asimov of the San Francisco Chronicle.

Asimov had a story a few years back in which she told a student protesting over tuition hikes about the existence of the program and the student burst into tears. Oh, the humanity. Maybe if the media actually mentioned Blue and Gold every now and then, our students would be less fragile and self-pitying.

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