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UC system takes another step toward keeping students debt-free

UC system takes another step toward keeping students debt-free

Cal Matters

Mikhail Zinshteyn
May 20, 2022
The University of California is vowing to offer its California undergraduates a debt-free college experience by 2030 as part of an overhaul of how the system views college affordability.
To get there, the system of 230,000 students seeking bachelor’s degrees is relying on a mix of state and federal support, revenues from recent tuition increases, and students working part-time to cover the full cost of an education. Students from wealthier households would also rely on parental support.
The system’s governing body, the Board of Regents, took another step toward that debt-free goal Thursday by voting to prioritize part-time work over taking out loans as part of the UC’s official financial aid policy. The change is subtle but is yet another instance of the UC signaling that its students should be able to earn a bachelor’s degree without the need to borrow within the next several years.
“The preferred outcome of our financial aid strategy is that students can afford their education through opportunities for part-time work made available to them and minimize student loan borrowing,” said Michael Brown, provost of the entire UC system, at Wednesday’s UC Regents meeting.
Though more than half of UC’s in-state undergraduate students don’t pay tuition due to financial aid, the free-college movement has widened its scope to include non-academic expenses that are still vital to a student’s education, such as housing, transportation and food.
All those expenses add up. Just over half of resident students graduate from the UC with student loans, accumulating an average of $18,800 in debt. It’s a figure that’s well below the national average but is still a financial millstone around borrowers’ necks. A CalMatters analysis noted low-income students who receive federal aid also take out loans, at amounts ranging from $11,000 to $16,000 typically.
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