For every scholarship awarded, there are hundreds of people who never make it.
One in five students from the lowest-income families in the country will never get a full ride to college.
And one in eight students will never go to a public university.
But a new group of UCLA students are trying to change that.
They’re hoping that by making college affordable, they’ll also change admissions policies.
Their goal is to change the admissions process at UCLA so that the average cost of attending a four-year public university is closer to $25,000.
They want to change how students are evaluated.
They want to reduce the barriers to entry to the University of California system.
And they want to encourage students to apply.
The idea is to have the system become more transparent, said Mark Rolos, a graduate student who founded the UCLA Scholarships for Opportunity initiative.
“When you have access to the best schools and the best programs, we don’t need to make this a competition,” he said.
“We can have a process where the students we’re interested in are eligible to go.”
“The students are the most important people,” said Rolous.
“They have the biggest impact.”
Beth Miller, a senior at UCLA, hopes to make the admission process more transparent.
“I feel like there is a bias against the rich, the wealthy,” she said.
She’s looking forward to the changes.
“There’s a huge gap in our system that we need to close,” she added.
Students have long struggled with financial aid.
A 2013 study by the Institute for College Access and Success found that students from families earning between $60,000 and $80,000 were four times more likely to have an income of less than $50,000 per year than students from other families.
That’s the same gap that’s been on the rise since the financial aid freeze in 2016, but it was made even wider in 2019 when the federal government increased federal aid by an average of 20 percent per year.
It was also made even broader in 2019, with the federal budget, when lawmakers passed a $1.2 trillion bill to fund the government and give it $10 trillion in new debt.
That bill increased the amount students were eligible for by 20 percent.
The cost of attendance is a major factor for students.
While many students will qualify for scholarships through financial aid, they may not have access for many years because they won’t have the right type of financial aid package.
Students from families making less than about $40,000 will still be eligible for the $25k scholarships, but many students who have scholarships will never be able to get them.
“The idea behind this is to create a better, more transparent process, where the vast majority of students that are eligible for financial aid will be able get the scholarships they need,” said Miller.
That said, the money is only one piece of the puzzle.
Students who don’t qualify for a full scholarship may still qualify for grants or other scholarships.
For example, a child in high school who’s eligible for a four year scholarship but is not enrolled in a particular college will still have access.
That will mean they can attend classes at other schools.
“It is important to make sure that all students are able to go to college and they’re not going to be stuck in the system,” said Mark Rutledge, a UC Berkeley professor of education and director of the UCLA Center for Admissions Policy.
For those who are already enrolled in one of the public universities, the scholarships may be less than they’d be eligible to get if they were enrolled at a private university.
That could mean students who would be eligible as low as $15,000 in financial aid may not be able afford to attend a UC campus.
“If students are going to a UC school, they’re going to have to pay the same amount as students who are enrolled at another UC school,” Rutledge said.
“And this is going to create huge inequities for students.”
The students at the forefront of the effort say they’re committed to making UCLA a more affordable place for everyone.
Rolos is confident the scholarship will change the admission policies.
“We’ve done a lot of outreach.
We’ve gone to every university in the state of California,” he explained.
“The UCLA Scholars for Opportunity is a real grassroots effort.
We are not just trying to raise money.
We’re trying to do a better job of educating people on the admissions processes.
We want to make it as easy as possible for students who might be struggling to get into a school.”
Follow NBC News Latino on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.