Philanthropist Steve Tisch has made a $10 million gift to UCLA to establish scholarships for undergraduate students, particularly those from middle-income families.

Half of the Tisch Fund will be distributed over the next five years to provide four-year scholarships beginning with students entering UCLA in the fall of 2020. The other half creates an endowed fund to ensure Tisch scholarships will continue in perpetuity and challenge other donors to create similar scholarship funds.

“With this gift, Steve Tisch’s vision and generosity come together to provide educational opportunities that will benefit students and their families,” said UCLA Chancellor Gene Block. “As a public institution dedicated to providing access to exceptional students from all backgrounds, we are grateful for this extraordinary support.”

Tisch’s contribution answers a need for UCLA students whose family income is too high to qualify for grant aid but not enough to cover full educational costs. In California, a student from a middle-income family might typically receive a scholarship from the state of $1,300 to $5,200 each year, but that accounts for only 3% to 15% of the annual cost of attending college.

“We know a college education provides individuals with long-term financial benefits, as well as making them more well-rounded and engaged in their communities,” Tisch said. “But as the cost of college continues to climb, it is becoming more difficult for many hardworking middle-class families to attain. It is an honor for me to help provide opportunities for young women and men to access the value and experience of a UCLA education and positively impact the trajectory of their lives.”

Youlonda Copeland-Morgan, UCLA’s vice provost for enrollment management, said, “Scholars from every background imaginable want to come to UCLA. Middle-income families face unique challenges in that they do not often qualify for sufficient federal and state financial aid to make UCLA affordable. As a result, too often, these students miss out on one of the finest college educations in our nation.

“UCLA wants to ensure that all students, including those from middle-income backgrounds, have an opportunity to benefit from the amazing academic and co-curricular experiences Bruins enjoy. The university is enriched by the contributions that these students make to the socio-economic diversity of our campus and our communities.” 

The issue is a national one that is receiving increasing attention. According to College Board’s Trends in College Pricing 2018, average tuition and fees tripled at public four-year institutions over the past 20 years, adjusting for inflation, making it more and more difficult for families to afford higher education.

According to the Center for American Progress, the real and perceived costs of higher education influence who applies for and enrolls in universities, which has a negative effect on economic mobility for individuals and their families and hurts the economy.

An award-winning film and television producer, Tisch also co-owns and serves as chairman of the NFL’s New York Giants. He has given to UCLA for nearly 25 years, including a $10 million gift in 2014 to establish the UCLA Steve Tisch BrainSPORT Program, the leader in concussion care and education. Both that gift and the latest contribution have been part of the Centennial Campaign for UCLA, which is scheduled to conclude in December.

“UCLA is grateful to Mr. Tisch for his generosity and the attention it brings to the affordability challenges of middle-income families, which we hope will encourage others to give,” Copeland-Morgan said.