Bob Meister, author of the immortal “They Pledged Your Tuition”, is easily our favorite academic critic of the administration here at Those Who Use It. After all, it was Meister who almost single-handedly shifted the focus of the university-in-crisis debate from decreased state funding to a project of debt-financed speculation. That’s why we were ecstatic this morning to encounter his most recent rip of the platitudes being disseminated by UCOP’s PR army regarding the impending 8 % fee hike. More specifically, the idea that financial aid — the so-called “Blue & Gold Plan” at Berkeley — is being expanded in such a way that the fee hikes actually serve to redistribute wealth is absurd, as Meister demonstrates:
[This] assumption is false because raising the Blue and Gold income cap from $60K to $70K, and now to a proposed level of $80K, is not fully paid for by the 33% return-to-aid generated by higher tuition, which the public, has been led to believe. It is, rather, funded—and much more so as the cap goes up—by increasing the amount that all students are expected to provide as “self-help” (their “loan/work expectation”). This higher amount will then be subtracted from their total “financial need” before aid packages are awarded.
Your Financial Aid Directors have therefore criticized Blue and Gold as a “a political plan, not a practical plan” for improving middle income access, because, as the Blue and Gold eligibility increases, the 63% of UC students now on financial aid would each receive smaller aid packages, and thus be expected to earn or borrow more for their education. So, yes, the “full financial need” of students will be funded, but the definition of “full financial need” will be changed so that all students currently eligible for financial aid, including those from very poor families, will be expected to pay more.No wonder UC is expecting to lose middle income students, despite Blue and Gold. And no wonder you are changing UC’s admissions policy to replace those students with out-of-state students who now pay more to attend less prestigious universities in other states that do not have anything resembling the California Higher Education Master Plan.
We urge you to read Meister’s letter in its entirety, published online today and available here.