UCs Plan to Admit 10,000 More California Students Despite Budget Toll

University of California Board of Regents gave preliminary approval on Thursday to a budget plan which will enroll 10,000 more California students in UCs over the next three years, including 5,000 more freshmen and transfer students during the next academic year.

The plan, proposed by UC Board of Regents President Janet Napolitano, aims to bolster in-state enrollment numbers which have steadily plummeted over the past decade. Only 66.1% of California applicants were admitted to UCs during the 2015-16 academic year, a record low since 79% of California applicants were admitted in 1999. Over 13,700 Californians applied to UCI for fall 2015 admission, the second-highest number in the UC system.  

The recent decrease in resident enrollment is largely attributed to the fact that out-of-state tuition revenue is more lucrative for the UC system than California resident tuition. At UC Irvine, California state residents pay an annual total of  $14,749.47 in tuition and fees, while nonresident students pay nearly three times more, at $39,457.47.

In the past academic year alone, UC Irvine increased enrollment of out-of-state students by over 30%; 9,413 nonresidents were admitted to UCI for the 2015-16 year, up from 6,564 in 2014-15.

Following the board’s initial approval of the budget plan on Thursday, Napolitano said  that the decision will ensure opportunities for more California students amid concerns that residents are being rejected from UCs in favor of higher-paying, out-of-state and international students.

“The University of California is committed to ensuring educational opportunity for current and future generations of students,” Napolitano said during the meeting. “That imperative is the driving force behind the proposal to increase access for Californians, to sustain that expanded access and to maintain the excellence of what is commonly considered to be the best research university in the world.”

The new budget plan is President Napolitano’s second initiative this year aimed at increasing in-state enrollment; in March, Napolitano announced a plan to cap out-of-state enrollment at 20% of students at the Berkeley and Los Angeles campuses, the two UCs most heavily impacted with nonresidents. None of the other seven undergraduate campuses must currently comply with the cap, as systemwide nonresident enrollment remains at approximately 15%.

Napolitano argued earlier this year that without additional state funding for California students, UC Regents would be forced to admit more nonresidents and rely on their supplemental tuition to balance the UC budget.

“Even to maintain the current level of enrollment that we have of California students, we either need to have additional money from the state or we need to have a certain number of out-of-state students,” said Napolitano in March.

The University maintains that funding garnered from increased out-of-state enrollment has allowed the system to admit 7,500 California students over the past year.

Even as 10,000 California students will be admitted over the next three academic years – a proposed 5,000 in fall 2016, as well as 2,500 in each of the two following years – enrollment of out-of-state and international students is still expected to rise, although growth may be slowed by the influx of Californians guaranteed by Napolitano’s plan.

To alleviate budget strains caused by the new plan, the state will allocate $25 million for the increase in resident undergraduates, supplemented by an additional $25 million from the University of California budget. UC plans to request an additional $6 million from the state to increase graduate enrollment by 600 students during the 2016-17 academic year.