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Wells Fargo Gift to Aid UC Merced Students

February 3, 2011

$250,000 donation to the university will help make higher education a reality

Quick Facts
  • The Wells Fargo Foundation has donated $250,000 to UC Merced for scholarships, bringing the foundation's total support of the campus to nearly $1.5 million.
  • Since 2005, Wells Fargo has supported 206 scholarships to UC Merced students.
  • In 2010, 76 percent of UC Merced's undergraduate students qualified for need-based aid.

MERCED, Calif. — In light of the present economy, coupled with unprecedented budget challenges, the need for college student scholarships has never been more apparent.

As that need continues to rise, the Wells Fargo Foundation has made a commitment to help close the gap for students at the University of California, Merced — the university announced today, Feb. 3, a $250,000 gift from the foundation to support student scholarships.

“Wells Fargo has made an extraordinary impact in transforming the lives of our students, and our campus is extremely grateful,” Chancellor Steve Kang said. “Wells Fargo has been one of those investors that, from early on, has assisted UC Merced in its pioneering efforts through scholarship support.”

This is the fifth scholarship gift from the San Francisco-based bank to support high school and community college students from the Central Valley who attend UC Merced. The university began awarding scholarships in 2005, with a $1 million donation. To date, the foundation has given nearly $1.5 million in total support, providing 206 scholarships.

photo of UC Merced staff, recpients, and sponsorsWells Fargo Foundation representatives presented a $250,000 gift at the campus' annual Scholarship Social on Feb. 3. The event was attended by UC Merced staff, current scholarship recipients and sponsors.

“Wells Fargo is proud to support UC Merced, an academic institution that helps promote the economic and educational advancement that our students deserve,” said Michael Congdon, regional vice president for Wells Fargo's Mid-Valley Regional Commercial Banking Office.

“Nothing is more important to a community's well-being than the quality of education its students receive. We believe that UC Merced believes in this same philosophy.”

This academic year, the campus' Office of Financial Aidawarded $1,000 Wells Fargo scholarships to 41 freshmen and 23 students transferring from a community college to UC Merced.

For Balpreet Sandhu, a second-year environmental engineering major from Modesto, receiving a Wells Fargo scholarship this year has meant focusing more on school than on making ends meet.

“Coming from a low-income family, receiving a scholarship has been a big help,” Sandhu said. “I was able to buy my books this year without any concerns. It has impacted my college success a lot, as I'm able to spend more time studying instead of working or worrying about school tuition.”

As the first American research university of the 21 stcentury, UC Merced is committed to providing financial aid for low-income and first-generation college students in order to make a first-rate education accessible regardless of a family's financial ability. And the chancellor himself is proof of the impact scholarships can have on a student's life.

“My family was not in a position to pay for my education, and the only way I was able to attend university was through scholarships,” Kang said. “Needless to say, higher education has made a significant impact on my life.”

UC Merced Financial Aid Stats for 2010-11 show a compelling need for scholarship support:

  • 76% of all undergraduate students qualified for need-based aid
  • 87% of all undergraduate students applied for financial aid
  • 87% of students who applied for financial aid qualified for need-based aid
  • 63% of students who applied for financial aid received a Federal Pell Grant (lowest economic indicator)
  • 93% of all incoming freshman applied for financial aid; of those, 64% received a Federal Pell Grant (lowest economic indicator)


Brenda Ortiz