If you are a California state resident and student at UC Santa Cruz, you probably pay approximately $13,416 a year in tuition and fees alone. Add in on-campus room and board, books, supplies, transportation, health insurance and personal expenses, and it looks a little closer to $33,291.

Or maybe you’re an out-of-state student. If so, then your total cost is $56,169. That means you are monetarily more valuable to the University of California — roughly $20,000 more valuable.

On May 15, California State Senator Michael Rubio (D-Shafter) introduced Senate Constitutional Amendment (SCA) 22, a bill proposing an out-of-state UC enrollment cap of 10 percent. In an article in the Los Angeles Times, Rubio said out-of-state students will make up 23 percent of all new freshmen admitted to the UC this fall, up from 11 percent in 2009. We cannot let this continue.

For the UC administration, accepting increasing numbers of out-of-state students is a convenient solution. When out-of-state students are able to attend a UC, the university receives more money and everyone wins — except California students.

The UC administration is frequently attacked for raising student fees, and with good reason. With the current level of UC tuition, it’s advantageous for recent graduates of California high schools to attend, say, the University of Montana, where out-of-state tuition and living expenses cost $5,229 less than UCSC undergraduates pay.

Illustration by Leigh Douglas

The UC already has a policy in place limiting out-of-state enrollment systemwide. Rubio’s bill would extend the policy to limit out-of-state enrollment to each campus, since the percentage is higher than 10 percent at certain campuses, including UCs Berkeley and Los Angeles. This would mean a more even spread of out-of-state students across every campus, giving California students a better chance of getting into one of the more competitive UCs.

SCA 22 comes at a crucial time for California higher education. With a few exceptions, the California State University system has announced that it will not be admitting new students for the spring semester 2013. Community colleges like Santa Monica College and Santa Barbara City College are so impacted by out-of-area and international students that local students find trouble securing the classes they need to transfer to a four-year school. In short, California public colleges are already not able to fulfill the Master Plan and serve all eligible California students — so why not make sure the UCs don’t get too greedy and admit more out-of-state students than they can handle?

Public education is a fundamental right, and the University of California should serve the students of its state. What’s more, California families and individuals pay taxes to fund the University of California, for education for California students. Accepting increased numbers of out-of-state students may be convenient and profitable, but exploiting out-of-state students at cost of California students is shameful.

If talented students are willing to pay higher tuition to attend universities, then more power to them. But if admitting out-of-state students to California public universities comes at the cost of not enrolling California students, then there is something wrong with our system of public education.

City on a Hill Press is in favor of SCA 22 and stands with Senator Rubio in his mission to keep the UC serving California residents. American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 3299, a union of UC employees, also supports SCA 22.

Only 3 percent of UCSC students are non-California residents currently. That number leaves some room for growth — but not too much.