UCLA Affordability Initiative aims to reduce need for student loans, with donors’ support


UCLA has introduced the UCLA Affordability Initiative, a campuswide effort to make an undergraduate degree more affordable by raising money for scholarships to eliminate the burden of student loans. The initiative aligns with a 2022 commitment by the University of California and state lawmakers to provide state residents with pathways toward a debt-free education by 2030.

Peter Merlone, a real estate investor who earned two degrees from UCLA in 1979, has made the lead commitment toward the UCLA initiative — a $15 million gift to create new undergraduate scholarships for California residents.

“UCLA was founded on the notion that access to a top-tier education should be available to talented individuals of all backgrounds and financial means,” said UCLA Chancellor Gene Block. “Peter Merlone’s gift, and the UCLA Affordability Initiative as a whole, will help us preserve our ability to attract stellar students from across the state — and set them up for success after graduation.”

Emily Reyna, a first-year undergraduate majoring in biology, said the financial support she received played a significant role in her decision to attend UCLA. “As a low-income student, I am very aware of high college expenses and it is my goal to graduate from college debt-free. Because of scholarships, my financial aid significantly increased and I do not have to worry about taking out loans.”

Read more on UCLA Newsroom here.