University of California, CSU Look to Balance Enrollment with Budget

(Photo: Youtube, Creative Commons)

(Photo: Youtube, Creative Commons)

The two public university systems in California will now need to make major decisions about enrollment and graduation rates because of the new state budget and financial incentives that were recently approved by legislators in Sacramento.

The University of California is currently dealing with the issue of increasing the number of students attending the school from outside of the state.  Those students are sought out by the school since they pay $27,000 more in tuition than the $12,800 paid by in-state residents.  A report recently written by the state auditor accused the school system of purposely admitting more out-of-state students in an effort to raise more funds, and then suggested that to fix the issue, stricter entrance requirements should be enforced on those students in addition to a cap being placed on their enrollment, writes Larry Gordon for EdSource.

The new budget would give UC an additional $18.5 million if the system enrolls 2,500 additional students from California before the start of the 2017-18 school year.  The 10-campus system would also be required to put a university-wide cap on the number of non-resident students it can enroll.

However, UC officials say that the number of non-resident students they are admitting are not affecting the enrollment of California residents, and that the additional tuition dollars are needed by the university.  While 15.5% of all students in the UC school system are now from out-of-state, those percentages are higher at UC Berkeley, UCLA, and UC San Diego, causing UC president Janet Napolitano to place a cap on non-resident enrollment at those three campuses, which went into effect last year.

According to officials at the school, the additional funds that the budget would provide them would not cover the cost associated with enrolling 2,500 additional California undergraduates.  The leaders went on to say that they look forward to working with the Legislature and the governor in an effort to increase California enrollment while keeping tuition costs as low as possible.  Meanwhile, UC spokeswoman Dianne Klein said that Napolitano is working on finding the right balance for an enrollment cap on non-residents, with a policy discussion expected to take place at a regents meeting either in July or September.

The school is already working on a previous $25 million offer requiring an additional 5,000 California undergraduates to be admitted by this fall.  The total would be a 10% increase over the close to 50,000 in-state freshmen and transfer students who enrolled last year.

Meanwhile, the budget is offering the California State University system $35 million for programs in an effort to increase the four-year graduation rates at the 23-campus system.  A special emphasis would be placed on underrepresented and low-income students.

Cal State officials are determined to create the goals and plans necessary in order to meet the expectations of the Legislature by September.  The additional funding promised to the school would be used to hire more academic advisors and faculty members, add class sections, improve remedial courses, increase the number of online courses offered, and to reform degree requirements and pathways.

In order to receive the funding, the school system needs to increase their four-year graduation rates, paying close attention to low-income students who receive Pell Grants and working to raise their graduation rates to similar levels as their more affluent peers.

Of the freshmen class who started at CSU as full-time students in fall 2011, just 19% graduated within four years.  Only 12% of Pell Grant students graduated in four years in comparison to 25% of non-Pell-eligible students.  The overall graduation rate for six years in the school system is 57% for those who entered the school as freshmen and 73% for transfer students.