Because of California’s budget crisis, the California State University (CSU) and University of California (UC) systems last week moved to reduce freshman enrollment for fall of ’09 because of a lack of state money. University officials are also considering jacking up tuition and fees if the situation fails to improve.
The enrollment cuts are hardly a bright prospect for a region that already suffers from the setback of having one of the state’s lowest college-going rates.
Local university officials, however, urge prospective students not to be deterred in pursuing a degree.
“We want to remind students that even though there’s been some discouraging news, they should not be discouraged from applying to the CSU campus,” Cal Poly Pomona spokeswoman Uyen Mai tells the IE Weekly. “They should still be applying. College is still within their reach.”
As a consequence of the enrollment reductions, CSU campuses are urging early deadlines for freshmen—even using YouTube to do so—and additional admissions criteria may be used in order to grapple with the prospect of fewer available spots for an increasing number of students. Prospective freshmen have until Nov. 30 to submit their applications in order to get priority consideration for next fall. In most cases, including Cal Poly and San Bernardino, the campuses are not expected to accept applications after the deadline and prospective students may need to apply for the following term or consider another campus or community college as a back-up.
Last week, CSU Chancellor Charles B. Reed kicked off a plan to reduce enrollment by 10,000 students across all 23 campuses.
“Because the state is unable to provide the resources needed to fully fund demand, we are forced to make this difficult decision,” Reed said last week through the CSU public affairs office.
Also last week, the UC Board of Regents approved its 2009-10 budget proposal and a resolution to cut enrollment at the system’s 10 schools—which includes UC Riverside.
Both university systems are facing less money from state coffers. In all, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s budget proposal calls for cutting $132 million from both the CSU and UC. The governor has proposed cutting more than $65 million from the UC system; $48 million was already slashed for the current fiscal year. The CSU system is facing more than $66 million in proposed budget cuts.
“If we want to continue to see this economy grow, we are going to have to provide the money so that students can get an education and become a productive part of the economy,” Lt. Gov. John Garmendi said during a Nov. 17 media teleconference.
Should the state fail to provide additional monies, officials from both university systems say hiking student fees and tuition will be considered an option. The specifics of potential tuition/fee increases, however, are not expected to be taken up until early ’09.
While the specific enrollment cuts for each campus have largely not been specified, Cal State San Bernardino does report that it’s facing the prospect of admitting 300 to 500 fewer students for next fall.
“We are all saddened by the fact that it’s come to this situation,” Cal State San Bernardino admissions and student recruitment director Olivia Rosas tells the IE Weekly.
Last year, this university received about 10,700 applications for the fall ’08. About 2,000 ended up enrolled.
“People in the higher education setting, this is the last thing we wish was happening,” Rosas says. “We really believe higher education is the ticket for young people to make progress, to be more productive, to boost the economy.”
At Cal Poly, the campus received more than 3,709 freshman applications for fall ’08, according to Mai. About 1,978 were admitted with 345 ultimately enrolled.
For the 2007-08 school year, UC Riverside received more than 32,000 applications and ended up enrolling nearly 4,600 incoming freshmen and transfers.
To deal with the enrollment cuts, CSU campuses will be allowed to use other criteria, such as grade point average. Priority will also be given to undergraduates who are already enrolled, followed by community college students who are transferring and meet certain requirements and California residents entering at the freshman or sophomore levels, according to the CSU chancellor’s office.
Adding to the situation, priority will also be given to prospective CSU freshmen from local areas. Students from outside these areas will be considered a lower priority. For example, students from San Bernardino will have an edge applying to Cal State SB but will be at a disadvantage when applying to Cal Poly. Similarly, prospective freshmen from El Monte, Claremont or Pomona will be considered a higher priority to get into Cal Poly than, say, someone from Temecula.
University officials say they’re doing everything they can to help potential new freshmen deal with the enrollment cuts.
“It’s definitely difficult,” UC Riverside spokeswoman Kris Lovekin tells the IE Weekly. “ . . . We need to figure out how to deal with enrollment.”
–Roberto C. Hernandez