UC Berkeley among campuses to allow for more in-state admissions
UC Berkeley and two of its popular University of California sister campuses would admit more in-state residents and the overall UC system would add 6,230 more freshmen for 2022 in a proposed state budget bill legislators are scheduled to vote on Monday evening.
Berkeley, UCLA and UC San Diego would make spots available for Californians at the expense of out-of-state and international students in a move Assemblyman Phil Ting, D-San Francisco, called the best higher education budget in decades.
“This is a huge investment for future generations where we really focused on inequity and access,” he said Sunday. “We wanted to make sure more California kids could get access into UC and CSU (California State University).”
The higher education component of the $262.6-billion state budget would greatly expand Cal Grants and middle-class scholarships for college students and also would launch a five-year plan to reduce non-resident enrollment at Berkeley, San Diego and UCLA to 18%.The proposed legislation provides enough funding to make up for the loss of nonresident tuition — $1.3 billion annually from out-of-state tuition, according to officials.
In past years, as higher education budgets in California have been pinched, state universities have compensated by admitting a higher percentage of out-of-state students, who tend to pay more for their education than California residents. But that trend has been controversial, with some state leaders arguing tax dollars should not be spent to subsidize the education of students who don’t live here.
The infusion of funding comes on the heels of a record number of applications for fall 2021. The UC system announced in January it had received almost 250,000 undergraduate applications for about 46,000 spots.
The budget has earmarked $81 million to increase undergraduate enrollment across the CSU’s 23 campuses by 9,434 students whereas UC would receive $68 million in state money to increase enrollment of California residents.
“This is a once-in-a-generation step forward on student aid,” Sen. John Laird, D-Santa Cruz, chair of the Senate Budget Subcommittee on Education, said.
Some lawmakers wanted to reduce non-residential undergraduate enrollment at Berkeley, San Diego and UCLA to 10% from the current numbers between 22.1% and 23.5%.
They settled on an 18% reduction over five years that Laird described as “an elegant compromise.”
The move would increase enrollment of Californians by 4,500 students over the five years.
The overall package will impact 15,000 Californian families each year, said Ting, the Assemby’s budget chair.
“That’s 15,000 kids who can go to UC and CSU,” he said. “That means our best and brightest are going to stay in California rather than potentially pursue educational opportunities elsewhere.”
A UC Berkeley spokesman referred questions on the state budget to systemwide officials.
While UC officials said they support increasing enrollment of California students they have opposed limiting nonresidents to 10%.
“We understand and support the Legislature’s goal of providing more opportunities for Californians at UC, though we believe trying to achieve this through reducing nonresident students will potentially lead to unanticipated outcomes,” the UC system said in an unattributed statement.
Kevin McCarty, D-Sacramento, who heads the Assembly subcommittee on education finance, said the unintended consequences UC officials referred to involve the diversity of the student population.
“For 145 years UC has been focused with 95% California students,” McCarty said. “All of sudden they see the light for diversity only when money comes with it.”
Lawmakers took advantage of a surging economy in the post-COVID-19 pandemic climate to focus on long-simmering issues like admission in colleges for residents.
McCarty said residents have complained for the past decade about how their children have been squeezed out of the UC and Cal State systems despite being academically qualified.
“It is an insult on top of the injury that the scare slot is going to a non-Californian,” he said.
One of the bill’s features includes $154 million for Cal Grant, the primary source of state-funded financial aid. The extra money will go to 133,000 community college students this fall who previously didn’t qualify because of restrictions involving age limits and years since graduating high school.
Also, the legislation includes $515 million to expand the state’s middle-class scholarship to more middle-income and low-income students.
The money would be available to Cal Grant recipients to help cover costs such as housing and food. Laird and Ting said the idea is to move toward a debt-free college experience by reducing living expenses, particularly housing.
Laird said the bill also restores base funding of the colleges to pre-pandemic levels with a 5% cost- of-living increase.
Legislators further agreed to create a new $2-billion fund to expand UC and Cal State facilities as more students are admitted. The fund also would address the student housing shortage for the four-year schools and the community colleges.
“This is the most significant budget for access and affordability in the history of California,” McCarty said. “It’s almost too good. This is the best we will ever do.”
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Story by: Elliott Almond