Every spring, high school seniors undergo the stressful ritual of college admission decisions. On March 31, the state auditor released a report which indicated that the University of California (UC) schools lowered admissions standards for out-of-state applicants, who pay triple the tuition than in-state students pay. This has resulted in a record number of in-state applicant rejections. In-state admission rates have fallen to record lows within the last five years. Meanwhile, the proportion of out-of-state undergraduates at schools such as UCLA and UC Berkeley has risen to 25 percent and 23 percent, respectively.
After 2011, the enrollment of out-of-state students increased, as the UC system experienced budget cuts. The system has softened enrollment requirements for non-Californian students, lowering the SAT/ACT score caps and GPA requirements.
UC officials claim their policies favor in-state students. However recent reports and past data of admitted students show that out-of-state students are more likely to be accepted than native Californians.
“After I had heard the news of the UC’s, I was somewhat angry and sad,” Palo Alto High School senior Peter John Valbuena said. “I felt cheated after putting in the work to try and qualify for their requirements then being wait listed and or denied admission because they want more money.”
According to the San Jose Mercury News, UC spokeswoman Dianne Klein claims that the policy change did not lower standards.
“What accounted for the increase in out-of-state enrollment was a 30 percent cut in state funding,” Klein said.
From 2010 to 2014, out-of-state enrollment increased by 82 percent, resulting in the UC campuses collecting $728 million in out-of-state tuition, doubling the revenue from years past.
While scores and GPAs of out-of-state students remained high, they were still lower than those of Californians. The audit found that the universities have rejected over 4,500 Californians whose test scores and grades were equivalent to the average scores for out-of-state students “whom the university admitted to the campus of their choice.”
“It’s messed up because the college process is difficult enough and yet it seems that our work is not good enough just because we are expected to play less just because were in-state students,” Valbuena said.
Palo Alto High School senior Connor Ng is also frustrated with the UC admission system.
“I think that it might lower the education standards at the school, and that it kind of sucks that someone less qualified might be chosen based on the amount of money they can offer,” Ng said.
While the UCs have admitted to becoming increasingly reliant on fees from out-of-state students, they maintain that in-state applicants are still the priority. Roughly 60 percent of in-state applicants gain admission to at least one campus of their choice, according to officials.
Last year, the UCs announced that there will be space for 5,000 more in-state undergraduates this coming fall and 5,000 more in upcoming years.