U.C. Berkeley Chancellor Robert Birgeneau has a plan to help middle class families get their children through Cal.
During a press conference Tuesday, Birgeneua said it's a first of its kind program called the Middle Class Access Plan.
It would extend a financial aid program to address the challenges faced by families who make between $80,000 and $140,000 a year. While most of the country would be considered wealthy in that salary range, U.C. officials said they consider it middle class.
Under the plan, parental contribution would be capped at 15-percent. And the fees include tuition, fees and expenses, such as room, board and books.
Birgeneau said a program geared to low income families has been very successful, and now he wants to help the middle class.
"As a public institution we feel strongly that we need to sustain and expand access across the socio-economic spectrum. This plan is part of our commitment to ensuring that financial challenges do not prevent qualified students from attending one of the preeminent public universities in the nation,” Birgeneau said.
He said he wants every talented student to be able to attend college and noted that people making six figures here in the Bay Area face "extraordinary financial challenges."
Vice Chancellor Frank Yeary says commitment to low income families, which are those who make less than $80,000 a year, remains strong. Yeary also noted that 40-percent of all UC Berkeley undergraduates pay no tuition at all.
Both men said they have noticed that although the number of students at Cal has been increasing, the number of middle-class students has not increased.
Associate vice chancellor for admission and enrollment Anna De Luca said the reason they made the announcement Tuesday is because winter break is a time families have tough conversations about what they can afford.
Now students can have a conversation that includes additional support from the University.
Students must fill out an FAFSA form, which is due in March.
The program is not limited to in-state families and will begin next fall.