UC Berkeley unveils aid plan for middle class families


Attending UC Berkeley has a price tag of more than $32,000 a year with room and board. While 40 percent of students get help from the state and federal governments, the middle class is having problems affording Cal.

"We don't want challenging economic times to be a barrier to access to what we believe is one of the nation's premier public universities," UC Berkeley Deputy Director of Undergraduate Admissions Anne De Luca said.

Enter the Middle Class Access Plan. Families earning between $80,000 and $140,000 qualify.

Here's how it works: If a family makes $100,000 a year, the most they will pay is 15 percent, or $15,000. Their son or daughter will also have to contribute by taking out loans, or using some of their savings. Berkeley will then make up the difference.

The university will rely on philanthropic donations and other sources to fund the program.

"One of the sources of funds is that we have been increasing the number of out of state and international students, who pay higher fees, and some of the revenue from that is then going to be used provide resources for middle class access," UC Berkeley Chancellor Robert Birgeneau said.

The university says one-quarter or close to 6,000 middle class students will benefit from this program.

"Now there is an opportunity for financial aid; that will make my life a lot easier in terms of affording college," student Dimitry Petrenko said.

"My parents are trying to pay for my education and my brothers and sisters education, so hopefully this plan will help us out," student Diana McCaffrey said.

The program is being offered only at Cal for now. Families must fill out an application. The deadline to apply is March 1.

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