Pro/Con: Should the UCs be required to admit more in-state residents?

Graschelle Hipolito and Jessica Machado

Jessica Machado: Pro
When the University of California came out with its admissions decisions for the class of 2020, people were shocked to find so many out-of-state students’ names on the list of accepted students.

In an audit termed “scathing,” the University of California is accused of “hurting local students by admitting too many out-of-state applicants to its campuses,” Teresa Watanabe, reporter for the “LA Times,” said.

In fact, about 16 percent of all admitted students were not Californians, up almost five percent from last year. Many more-than-qualified California residents were rejected from the universities for one reason and one reason only: money.

Out-of-state or nonresident students pay more than residents—a little over $24,000 more. Due to recent budget cuts, the universities claim that they need more money, and admitting nonresident undergraduates is their answer.

“The university relaxed its academic standards for nonresidents, admitting 16,000 students whose scores fell below the median for admitted resident students,” Associated Press journalist Janie Har said in an article in “The Record.”

College admissions should be based upon academic excellence and extracurricular involvement, among other criteria, not the amount of revenue that a student will produce for the school. In fact, Californians pay taxes that fund the UC system. The public universities, which were created to educate California students, are not serving the students who have provided the financial and civic support for the universities.

The University of California is required to admit students in the top nine percent of their high school class to at least one of their campuses. For the 2016-17 year, however, those students did not receive the acceptance letters they thought they would. The spots that were supposed to be guaranteed to them were handed to nonresident students who had lower grades and lower test scores.

If the University of California needs more money, maybe it should look at cutting its employees’ salaries instead of cutting its admissions to residents.

The UC’s main argument for the decrease in resident acceptance is that state funds have decreased since 2008. The Board of Regents claims that the revenue earned from out-of-state tuition helps the system let in more resident students.

“UC officials failed to provide evidence for their key claims. They have not shown, for instance, how they used the $728 million in nonresident tuition for more California students,” Watanabe said.

Fortunately, California assembly members, Kristen Olsen of Riverbank and Catharine Baker of San Ramon, are working on legislation that will limit the number of nonresidents admitted to the universities.

Graschelle Hipolito: Con
When faced with a rising deficit, the UC had the options of raising taxes, increasing in-state tuition, or admitting more out-of-state applicants.

In choosing the latter, the UC avoided a $2,500 tuition increase — a roughly 20% increase, according to UC President Janet Napolitano. Admitting more out-of-state residents, who pay almost triple the approximate $13,000 tuition cost of their in-state counterparts, have contributed nearly $800 million to stabilizing the UC’s funds.

Considering that raising taxes would result in a major inconvenience for the entirety of the California working class, admitting more out-of-state applicants was the most practical choice.

The nearly $25,000 additional tuition dollars from nonresident students each year has efficiently allowed the UC to admit more California students that they otherwise would not has been able to afford.

If the UC decided to cap their out-of-state admissions and instead chose to raise tuition fees by a couple thousand dollars, many California residents may have turned away from applying to the UCs completely.

The decision was a matter of social economics and the potential of the UC jeopardizing its national standing because of higher tuition prices.

In the midst of the audit’s allegations, people failed to consider the fact that UC tuition prices have remained constant since 2008 and in-state applicants still hold the upper hand in the unwavering guarantee of being admitted into one of the nine UC campuses, an advantage not offered to nonresidents.

Out-of-state admissions grew in direct response to the $1 billion budget cut from the UC. Now, although the funds remain below pre-recession levels, the UC is regaining its financial footing and plans to keep the admission of California students in UCs as a top priority.

“The number of California resident freshmen admitted to UC for fall 2016 increased by 8,488 students for a total of 66,123 admissions offers – a 14.7 percent increase over 2015,” Napolitano said. “The admission rate – the percentage of applicants admitted – [of all UC campuses] jumped to 62.7 percent, up almost seven percent from 2015.”

UC admission for the class of 2020 has already demonstrated improving rates and with continued state funding, the UC’s plan to admit even more students within the next two years looks promising.

It’s unfortunate that the audit, along with many people who defend its claims, ignore the fact that increasing non-resident students has allowed the UC to progressively admit more California residents and maintain world-renowned academic excellence in the face of massive budget cuts — an admirable feat.