College Spotlight: UC Merced


Need-based Scholarships

  • 86% qualified

Average Financial Aid Packet

  • $22,919

Common Application

  • UC application only

Application Deadline

  • November 1st-30th

Application Fee

  • $70

School System

  • Semester

AP Credits

  • Awarded

Strong Programs

  • Psychology
  • Biology
  • Business Administration and Management
  • Sociology



Acceptance Rate

  • 73.7%

ACT Range

  • 20 - 27


  • Merced, CA


  • Rural

School Type

  • Public


  • 7,336


  • 49/51


  • Guaranteed For Freshmen

Percent Living on Campus

  • 87% of Freshmen

Annual Cost

  • $13,160

UC Merced: the youngest child in a ever expanding family of University of California school. Opened in 2005, the school just passed its 10 year mark, creating an interesting environment. Students who attend have the ability to take part in a program that is in its infancy. According to graduate Viet T, the university is “somewhere you can grow, experiment, do lab research, or start something new.” The ability to take an active role in the formative years of a school could be appealing to some students, but might appeal less to students who want schools with traditions or established quirks.

The school's facilities are largely new and more are planned in the 2020 expansion, set to increase the enrollment capacity to ten thousand. Notable current buildings include the new Student Services Building to accommodate to the school growth and the Kolligian Library where librarians are available for academic counselling 24/7.  The most famous monument of all is the "Beginnings" sculpture (pictured). Representing the embrace of a caring university, it has seen the first generation of UC Merced students through their journey.

However, the surrounding area is described as bland by some students. Merced, in many ways, remains just a town smack dab in the center of California. At 82,594 residents, the town is a little larger than Bend, yet a dwarf compared to other cities in California. The closest city is 2 hours away, meaning Merced is in center of rural California. Because of this, some students are dissatisfied with the environment outside of the school.

In typical UC fashion, diversity is prolific. White students constitute a significant minority of the population — just 10 percent — while 53 percent identify as hispanic. LGBTQ and other social issues find acceptance at UC Merced.

UC Merced is in the WUI system, meaning that RPA students are able to pay in-state tuition for that school. For those that think lavish living and college are mutually exclusive, they may be wowed by what UC Merced has to offer. At around $13,000 a year, this college is a steal.

UC Merced is a affordable and relatively undiscovered school. If you are one who is willing to throw yourself into a school whose culture is less developed, then the UC Merced experience is right up your ally. As always, I cannot claim to be experts on these universities and the opinions expressed here are not necessarily shared with the entire school. If you want to learn more, contact us or go to the website listed above.