The UC Looks Beyond California for Students … and Dollars

The University of California (UC) is increasingly looking outside California for its incoming freshman class. This year, more than one out of every six students (18.1 percent) admitted to the UC’s Fall 2011 class came from outside California, compared to one out of 10 students (10.0 percent) admitted in the Fall of 2007. Why is the UC admitting more out-of-state students given the large number of young Californians seeking a UC education? One reason is that out-of-state students pay nearly three times the tuition and fees that California residents pay. Given state cuts to UC funding during the past few years, the sharp increase in the number of UC students admitted from outside California likely has more to do with the UC’s budget gap than with the desire to increase the geographic diversity of the UC’s student body.

The recent budget agreement signed by Governor Brown cut the UC’s 2011-12 funding by $650 million. The cut to UC funding could rise by $100 million if state revenues do not meet certain targets. Even without so-called “trigger cuts,” General Fund support for the UC has dropped by 27.1 percent since 2007-08, with more than half of that drop occurring in the past year.

How has the UC responded to state budget cuts? To close the gap, the UC has reduced salaries, laid off staff, eliminated courses, and increased student tuition and fees. In fact, since 2007-08 the UC has increased tuition by more than two-thirds (67.6 percent), and the Board of Regents will consider an additional 9.6 percent increase at its meeting tomorrow. If the increase is approved, undergraduate tuition for California residents would rise to more than $12,100 in 2011-12, which does not include the cost of housing, transportation, food, or other campus-based fees. Tuition for undergraduates who come from outside California would top $35,000. The extra $22,900 per student is one reason the UC has increased nonresident enrollment. It also may be a reason why the number of international applicants admitted for the Fall 2011 UC class is triple the number admitted in the Fall of 2007. While increasing the number of out-of-state students may help bring in more dollars for the UC, it also reduces opportunities for young Californians seeking a college degree.

—Jonathan Kaplan