University of California admits significantly more California freshman students, makes gains in diversity

Admissions offers to California high school seniors jumped nearly 15 percent over last year for students hoping to enroll at a University of California campus this fall, according to preliminary data announced today (April 4).

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. The admission rate – the percentage of applicants admitted – jumped to 62.7 percent, up almost 7 percent from 2015.

The numbers show that the University is on track to enroll an additional 5,000 California undergraduates in 2016 – and, with continued state funding, 5,000 more over the following two years.

“We’ve intensified our efforts to boost enrollment of Californians at the University and all indications are that these efforts are working,” said UC President Janet Napolitano. “Our commitment to California and California students has never wavered, even through the worst financial downturn since the Great Depression. Now, with additional state funding, we are able to bring in even more California students.”

The latest admission figures also show a substantial increase in the number and percentage of California freshmen from historically underrepresented groups, representing 37.2 percent of all California freshmen admitted for fall 2016. Admission of Chicano/Latinos increased to 32 percent of the total number of admitted students, up from 28.8 percent last year. The number of admitted African American students jumped 32 percent over 2015.

The number of newly admitted California freshmen who will be first-generation college students rose to 42.8 percent of admitted students, and students from low-income families increased to 37.4 percent of the total number of admissions.

This preliminary data does not include data on offers made to transfer students because that process is not yet complete. UC also expects a substantial increase in those numbers given its strong outreach to California community college students. About one-third of undergraduates enter the University as transfer students and UC recently streamlined that process through the 21 new pathways offered under the Transfer Pathways program.

The preliminary fall 2016 admission rate for nonresident students fell from 54.6 percent to 53.7 percent. The percentage of nonresidents to be newly enrolled at UCLA and UC Berkeley this fall will remain capped for the second consecutive year, and UC San Diego will hold the number of nonresidents it enrolls at the same level as 2015. These campuses are the most popular with out-of-state students.

Nonresident tuition at the University is an important component of UC’s fiscal stability, which was severely stressed by a $1 billion cut in state funding, a third of the University’s core educational budget. Nonresident enrollment at UC grew in direct response to this decline in state funds, which remain below prerecession levels.

Extra tuition dollars from nonresidents totaling roughly $800 million annually – or the cost of educating 80,000 California resident students – have helped fill the gap caused by the state cuts, enabling UC to meet its obligation to admit the top 12.5 percent of California high school students who apply. Roughly 85 percent of UC undergraduates are California residents.

Like many public agencies, UC had to make difficult choices in managing the deficit caused by its state budget cut. In addition to cutting costs and generating savings, it could reduce California enrollment, increase in-state tuition by an additional $2,000 per student, or add nonresidents. UC chose the latter course.

By comparison, the California State University system – which, unlike UC, does not attract many out-of-state applicants – turned away “tens of thousands of eligible students,” as Chancellor Tim White recently acknowledged. UC’s decision allowed it to maintain its obligation to admit California’s top high school graduates, hold in-state tuition flat since 2010-11, and sustain its world and national rankings for excellence.

With the end of the recession and the partial restoration of state funding UC is now able to enroll more California students.

“I am pleased with the steps we are taking to move UC forward,” said President Napolitano. “We are all excited about the admitted Class of 2020 and the opportunity to educate the next generation of Californians.”

Campus-level freshmen admissions data, as well that for transfer applicants, will be released later with tables accessible online.