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The funding conundrum: Cal’s dwindling state support

By David Peterkovsky

Since UC Berkeley is a public university, many people believe that the State of California covers the vast majority of Cal’s budget.
The reality, however, is quite different. Today, the state funds just 13 percent of Berkeley’s overall operating budget (tuition, research funding, philanthropy, and other sources cover the rest). It’s a far cry from just 30 years ago, when state funding was at 50 percent.

Meanwhile, enrollment at Berkeley has grown substantially in recent years, up from 25,885 undergraduates in the fall of 2011 to 29,310 undergrads this past fall. That’s why private giving — from Cal Parents, alumni, and other friends of the university — has never been more critical.

Efforts such as the recent Campaign for Berkeley, which raised more than $3 billion for the university, and the annual Big Give one-day fundraising drive (see article on previous page) go a long way toward preserving the excellence of Berkeley. Gifts of any size can — and do — make a real difference.

The chart at the right illustrates the decline in state support that Cal has experienced over the years:

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1974-75 49.2%
1984-85 50.3%
1994-95 33.7%
2004-05 26.4%
2014-15 13.2%

Source: UC Berkeley’s Office of Planning & Analysis; 2014-15 is the last year for which finalized data is available.

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