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UCLA receives $10M donation to fund middle-income student scholarships

Philanthropist Steve Tisch gifted UCLA $10 million for scholarships for middle-income students. The gift will be used for four-year scholarships and future scholarships. (Liz Ketcham/Photo editor)

By Marilyn Chavez-Martinez

Nov. 12, 2019 12:20 a.m.

A $10 million gift to UCLA seeks to provide scholarships for middle-income students who may not be eligible for aid, but cannot immediately pay for college.

Film producer and philanthropist Steve Tisch gifted UCLA $10 million for student scholarships, according to an Oct. 28 UCLA press release. The gift is meant to serve students from middle-income families who may not qualify for much state or federal aid, but cannot afford the entire cost of attending college on their own.

Half of the funds will be disbursed over five years beginning in 2020 to serve as four-year scholarships for middle-income UCLA students. The other half will be used to create an endowed fund, allowing the gift to support students through scholarships in the future.

Students from middle-income families may receive a California state scholarship of $1,300 to $5,200 each year of attending college. However, that only accounts for up to 15% of the annual cost of attending college, according to the press release.

Paying for college can be a challenge for these families because they do not have the liquidity to make the large sums of payments immediately, said Youlonda Copeland-Morgan, vice provost for enrollment management.

Moreover, Copeland-Morgan cited the high costs of living in California and having multiple children in college as additional challenges middle-income families face.

“The reality is that there’s not enough federal support … to make it affordable,” Copeland-Morgan said.

Federal funding for student aid has been in decline, affecting both low-income and middle-income students, Copeland-Morgan said. The Federal Perkins Loan Program, which used federal funds to disperse low-interest student loans to students, was ended altogether in 2018.

“When Congress abandoned that program, we lost $8 million of loan monies at UCLA,” Copeland-Morgan said. “That is $8 million we no longer have to help families from (a) wide range, from low-income to middle-income families, pay for education.”

Vy Le, a fourth-year global studies student, said she knows a lot of students who fall into this bracket and have to take out loans with high interest rates.

“I think it really would be useful, because a lot of times I think students like those kind of get left behind because … financial aid scholarships kind of cater toward students who are in desperate need, but then there are also students who fall in between who are also struggling,” Le said.

Elise Umetsu, a fourth-year international development studies and English student, said she is in the middle bracket herself and is the recipient of a scholarship designed to help students from middle-income families.

She said although the scholarship has benefited her and her family a lot, she thinks she is fortunate to have a family that is able to pay for her college expenses.

“I kind of always have the opinion that like, you should be helping those at the lowest end,” Umetsu said.

Copeland-Morgan said she hopes Tisch’s gift will inspire other donors to give as well. UCLA is working with donors to address the needs of all students, she added.

“I hate to see any students not come to UCLA because of a lack of money, especially if they’ve earned the right to be a part of our entering class,” Copeland-Morgan said.

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Marilyn Chavez-Martinez | News and outreach senior staff
Chavez-Martinez was the 2020-2021 Outreach Director. She was previously an assistant news editor managing the campus politics beat and still writes for the Daily Bruin news section occasionally. She is also a fourth-year English and Economics student at UCLA.
Chavez-Martinez was the 2020-2021 Outreach Director. She was previously an assistant news editor managing the campus politics beat and still writes for the Daily Bruin news section occasionally. She is also a fourth-year English and Economics student at UCLA.
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