Ginny Sullivan, a second-year from New Mexico, is one of many students considering leaving the University of California to find a more affordable and higher quality education. Photo by Andrew Allio.
When New Jersey native Kana Abe was a senior in high school, she made a PowerPoint presentation to convince her parents that UCSC was the school for her. However, after just one quarter at the UC, she applied for transfer to Rutgers University back in her home state of New Jersey.

“I have a twin sister and everything always has to be fair,” Abe said. “When I compared my expenses here at UCSC to hers at Rutgers, it was double what she was paying. After [that], I knew I would come home.”

UC regents have made a goal of increasing out-of-state student enrollment to 10 percent of the total UC population. The $23,000 that these students bring to the university in annual fees is considered a way to mitigate the effects of state budget cuts. Campuses systemwide are scrambling to revamp recruitment of these high-paying students.

UCSC is focusing mainly on Internet resources such as CollegeWeekLive as a method of recruiting high achieving students from out of state, but have also adjusted more active programs. This year, the “Taking UCSC Home” program — which utilizes student volunteers to outreach at high schools in their hometown — has been extended to winter break in an effort to increase participation of out-of-state students.

Michelle Whittingham, associate vice chancellor of enrollment and director of admissions at UCSC, said high student fees and lack of financial aid puts the school at a disadvantage when recruiting out-of-state students.

“Since 2007, we have seen a decrease in non-resident enrollment, which is directly related to fee increases,” Whittingham said.

Whittingham said that UCSC has a lot to offer that is unique to the campus.

“The key for us [when recruiting] is that a lot of students are looking for that out-of-state experience. We want to make sure people are aware of the quality of education we offer here.”

At the same time that UC admissions offices step up their recruitment of students outside California, many non-residents are leaving the UC. Last year when Abe told her roommate — New Mexico resident Ginny Sullivan — that she was transferring, Sullivan tried to convince her to stay. Now, Sullivan too is applying to transfer out of California.

Sullivan, a second-year, was attracted to UCSC because she wanted the challenge of being far away from home and because of the prestige of the UC. While she has enjoyed her experience here at UCSC, Sullivan says she does not feel it represents a higher quality of education than she could receive at less expensive universities in other states. An only child of two working parents, she questions whether the UC education she receives is worth the $23,000 more she pays than California residents.

“I could go to another out-of-state school for in-state tuition through the western exchange program. Maybe my parents can scrape by and afford this,” Sullivan said. “But is that the right decision?”

Sullivan said that despite feeling like she is paying for more than she receives, her experience at UCSC has been mostly positive. For this reason, she has not made a firm decision about whether on not she will leave California after this year.

“I’m filling out the applications because I want the option to transfer,” Sullivan said. “I want to give this school a chance to win my heart this year. If at the end of the year I still feel the same underwhelming feeling about the quality of my education, I’m probably going to leave.”