The University of California’s freshman class could look very different next year.
The UC increased the percentage of out-of-state student admission from 14 percent in 2010 to 18 percent for the freshman class of 2011. At UC Santa Cruz, admission was offered to 776 out-of-state students, up from 691 in 2010. Out-of-state students pay an additional $23,000 on top of in-state fees, bringing the average total cost of attendance for non-California residents to almost $55,000.
To mitigate the effects of funding cuts the state of California has made to the UC, the university has looked at alternative sources of revenue. The UC Commission on the Future — a group that discusses large-scale planning for the university system — recommended in November that the UC increase out-of-state enrollment for the additional revenue generated through higher student fees.
Non-California residents are ineligible for state-funded aid programs such as Cal Grants, and must rely instead on federal aid options like direct loans. Out-of-state students can apply for California residency after a year of attending a California university. However, the process requires them to jump many hurdles. For instance, they must demonstrate financial independence if they do not have a parent or legal guardian who is a California resident. This condition all but ensures they will continue to pay out-of-state fees to the UC.
Revenue brought in by out-of-state students who do not achieve California residency can help preserve the quality of a UC education, said Michael McCawley, associate director of admissions at UCSC.
“The money that comes in from out-of-state students can go to enhancing academic advising or providing more sections,” McCawley said.
Some are concerned that the increase in out-of-state student admissions could potentially displace California resident admissions.
“It’s good to get new perspectives, but it goes against the purpose of the UCs, which is to provide quality public education for California residents,” second-year literature major Everest Dillon-Hurley said.
The UC received a record high of 106,186 first-year applications for the fall of 2011. However, the percentage of California residents offered admission fell from 71.6 percent in 2010 to just below 70 percent for 2011.
“The UCs have moved so far from their original principles and purposes [that] they don’t resemble what they used to be,” Dillon-Hurley said.
Michelle Whittingham, associate vice chancellor of enrollment management and director of admissions at UCSC, said these concerns are not validated by UC admissions policies.
“We have a certain amount of students that are California residents that we accept and then another set number for out-of-state students,” Whittingham said.
The increase in admission offers is also a product of the space created by this year’s considerably large graduating class. Whittingham said that increasing the percentage of-out-of state students will not displace in-state students, saying that “the only thing that displaces state students are budget cuts.”
To offset the increased percentage of out-of-state students offered UC admission, the Eligibility in the Local Context (ELC) program has been extended to guarantee UC admission to the top 9 percent of high school students in their graduating class who fulfill the 15 “a–g” course requirements and maintain a 3.0 GPA.
Whittingham said there are benefits to increasing the number of out-of-state students, beyond the additional revenue they bring to the university.
“Geographical diversity is important,” Whittingham said. “We owe it to students to bring in students from different areas and backgrounds.”
DJ Bott is a first-year Porter College student from Florida who came to UCSC for the writing program. Her family has had to ask for extensions on tuition payments more than once, but Bott said the pressure motivates her to get the most from her college education and experience.
“The higher tuition puts a lot of stress on my parents and I, but it drives me to be more successful and to work harder,” Bott said.
It is unclear how the percentage of non-resident students will be affected in the long term by the increase in admissions offers. McCawley says it will depend on how many students — like Bott — choose to accept the financial burden.
“Only time will tell,” McCawley said. “Everyone will have to make their own judgment and decide if it’s worth it to pay the out-of-state tuition fees and make an educational investment.”