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UC San Diego Named a 'Holy Grail'
College for Low Cost and High Return

April 28, 2011

By Christine Clark

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The University of California, San Diego has been ranked by Bloomberg Businessweek as a top college for its exceptional 30-year return on investment (ROI) based on what students spend on their undergraduate education. The ranking factors in the median salary of UC San Diego graduates and the university’s robust financial aid programs.

In the “College’s Holy Grail: Low Cost, High Returns” special report, Bloomberg highlights the top 50 universities, including  UC San Diego, with impressive ROIs based on data from a study on college return on investment conducted by PayScale for Bloomberg Businessweek.

The magazine notes, “They’re few and far between, but some schools deliver top-notch returns without breaking the bank. The reason: generous financial aid.”

“UC San Diego has an important message for students and families: Help is available through financial aid,” says Ann Klein, director of UC San Diego’s Financial Aid Office. “The campus offers a wide variety of financial aid resources for students on an ongoing basis that help make a college education more affordable.”

Bloomberg defines the 30-year net return on investment for graduates as the average earnings of a graduate, in excess of those of a high school graduate, after deducting the net cost of the degree.

According to Bloomberg’s calculations, UC San Diego has a nearly 1.2 million 30-year ROI for graduates. UC San Diego has an excellent ROI because the median pay for a graduate is $78,600, according to PayScale, and students receive larger than average financial aid awards, relative to the total cost of tuition and fees.

“The large public research university is known for its strong engineering and science offerings,” Bloomberg states. “Of the school’s recent graduates, more than one quarter, or 28 percent, are working in the technology sector, followed by 24 percent in business. Many alumni go on to successful careers at biotechnology and technology firms; UC San Diego faculty, staff, and alumni have started 646 companies, with estimated annual sales of more than $15 billion.”

UC San Diego is widely acknowledged for its contribution to the community and positive impact on the economy. In 2010, the campus conferred 7,615 degrees; approximately one-third of our 130,000 alumni live in San Diego County, contributing income, payroll, property and sales taxes to the region.  Many have started businesses, which provide jobs and generate new products that drive economic development. Others play leading roles in the community and in health care delivery.

UC San Diego plays a major role in supporting the expansion of the skilled workforce in San Diego, including high-tech and biotech businesses. As of October 2010, 23,663 undergraduate students and 6,236 graduate students were enrolled at the university. 

Although state funds to the University of California have declined 51 percent over the last decade and students are faced with fee increases, UC San Diego remains accessible and affordable.

Bloomberg notes, “Every year, the school organizes awareness campaigns for the deadline for the Free Application for Federal Student Aid FAFSA form; as a result, more than one-third of the student body receives federal Pell Grants.”

In addition, about 30 percent of UC San Diego students receive financial support through the Cal Grant program, which awards grants of up to $11,124 a year. UC San Diego also raises private money for student scholarships through initiatives like the Invent the Future (www.inventthefuture.ucsd.edu) student support campaign, a three-year, $50 million fundraising effort launched in 2009.

For the full list of Bloomberg Businessweek’s 50 affordable colleges with the best ROI, go to: http://www.businessweek.com/bschools/content/apr2011/bs2011047_741060.htm


Media Contact: Christine Clark, 858-534-7618, or ceclark@ucsd.edu

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