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UC Boosts In-State Enrollment By 15% Following Critical Audit

The Geisel Library is seen from the UC San Diego campus on June 11, 2005.

Photo by Omar Omar via Compfight

Above: The Geisel Library is seen from the UC San Diego campus on June 11, 2005.

A state audit says the University of California has been admitting more students from out of state as its in-state admissions dropped. Of the campuses offering fewer spots to Californians, UC San Diego had the sharpest increase in out-of-state students.

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State Audit On UC Enrollment

State Audit On UC Enrollment

A March 2016 state audit says the University of California has been admitting more students from out of state as its in-state admissions dropped.

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UPDATE: 2:30 p.m., April 4, 2016: UC moves to increase California student admissions

The University of California increased its admission offers to in-state high school seniors by nearly 15 percent for this fall, the university system's president announced Monday.

According to a statement released by UC, it mailed acceptance letters to 66,123 California residents this spring — a 14.7 percent jump from 2015.

The latest numbers also indicate an increase in the UC system's admission of historically underrepresented groups, with Chicano/Latinos making up 32 percent of the total admitted students for fall 2016. That's up from 28.8 percent last year.

“We’ve intensified our efforts to boost enrollment of Californians at the University and all indications are that these efforts are working,” UC President Janet Napolitano said in the statement.

In a rebuttal to an audit released last week that showed out-of-state student admissions are growing, the system pledged to increase California admissions by 5,000 students by 2019. With Monday's announcement, it's on track to admit 10,000 by that time.

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Christopher Yanov of Reality Changers has been working to get San Diego students with low socio-economic backgrounds into college over the past five years. This March brought him a first.

A student with a 5.0 grade point average and good SAT scores received rejection letters from all four of the University of California campuses to which he applied, Yanov said.

"What else does somebody have to do besides have a 5.0 GPA, a good story, and a lot of community involvement?" Yanov said. "That's a tough message to have to deliver — that he couldn't have done anything else."

The four UC campuses where the student applied — San Diego, Los Angeles, Santa Barbara and Berkeley — are behind an admissions trend that caught the attention of the state auditor last month. In a scathing report released Tuesday, she said the University of California has been admitting more students from out of state as its in-state admissions dropped.

Those campuses are the only ones to recruit more out-of-staters while offering fewer spots to Californians.

UC San Diego had the sharpest increase in out-of-state students, climbing 126 percent between 2010 and 2015. It cut in-state freshman admissions by nearly 3,000 students in that time, and added about 3,600 out-of-state students, according to the audit.

State Auditor Elaine Howle argues more out-of-state students, who pay about three times what resident students pay, should have meant funding for more Californians, not fewer. And she suggests students coming from other states aren't as qualified as locals, because they aren't held to the same admissions standards.

A spokesman for UC San Diego would not comment for this story. In a rebuttal to the audit, the University of California says its in-state enrollment tracks with state funding, which flat-lined during the recession. Out-of-state students have helped to stabilize the budget, the report says:

Some in California have called for UC to limit the number of nonresident students it enrolls, thinking this would make room for more Californians or provide additional opportunity for more California students. This isn’t true. The immediate impact of reducing the number of nonresidents at the University would be less funding for all UC students. Like other governmental agencies, UC’s state of the recent recession and it is unlikely that the state will be positioned to replace the more than $800 million that nonresidents bring to the University each year.

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University Of California Rebuttal To State Audit

University Of California Rebuttal To State Audit

A March 2016 report by the University of California refutes claims made in a state audit of its enrollment.

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The report adds that the University of California has not strayed from the state's mandate to offer admission to the top 9 percent of California high school graduates, and the system plans to add another 5,000 in-state students next year.

"If we thought that our students were at a disadvantage because of where they live, that would not sit well with us," said David LeMaster, the principal at Rancho Bernardo High School. "But at the same time we also understand that it's highly competitive and that we have excellent schools in San Diego. When you have excellent schools, it's going to attract kids from all over the place, so it's one of those double-edge swords."

LeMaster said the trend is troubling for students who need to stay local because of family circumstances, such as needing to help support the household.

"We encourage them to cast a wide net, see what responses they get and then make the best decision for them and their families, but we also understand that not all kids have that same flexibility," Le Master said.

Yanov said he, too, sympathizes with the university's need for a workable budget. His initial thought on how to solve the problem: build more schools.

Whatever the solution, it might also need to extend to the California State University system, which is seeing a similar trend.

A KPBS review of admissions at San Diego State shows the campus is adding both in-state and out-of-state freshmen. But out-of-staters are increasing at a faster rate. They grew 117 percent between 2010 and 2015. In-state admissions increased 42 percent.

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