Out-of-state students at the University of California may pay three times more in tuition than California students, but the Legislature sees in-state students as worth more.
That’s why lawmakers approved plans this summer for the UC to enroll an extra nearly 11,000 California residents, in part by removing 4,500 out-of-state slots over five years.
The enrollment growth for California residents would kick in next fall, conveniently during an election year in which Democratic legislators will seek easy wins to reinforce their political advantage among voters. Extra slots at the UC for in-state residents can shore up the votes of parents, who’ll be delighted to know their children have a better shot of getting into a top public university.
In many ways, the UC is one of the best deals for state taxpayers: a public good that for more than half of California undergraduate students is free. But in the past decade access to that public good has gotten harder as the percentage of out-of-state students soared from 5% to 17%. Lawmakers say that trend pushes out resident students. But the UC’s reliance on out-of-state students, who pay a lot more to attend, is a response to a lower level of financial support from California lawmakers.
The Legislature has “heard loud and clear that too many of our UC campuses are elusive for students who have amazing grades and academic credentials, especially at the marquee campuses of UCLA San Diego and Berkeley,” said Kevin McCarty, a Democrat and assemblymember from Sacramento who chairs the Assembly’s budget subcommittee on education, at a June legislative hearing.
The price tag for McCarty and other Democrats in the Legislature deciding to add more slots for California undergraduates at Berkeley, UCLA and UC San Diego by removing the same number of nonresident students? About half a billion dollars over five years and $153 million annually thereafter. That’s on top of a separate plan for next year to add almost 6,300 new slots for California undergraduates at the UC at a cost of $68 million annually. Gov. Gavin Newsom signed off on both.
The enrollment plan, which will be formally funded next year, though has at least one bitter dissenter: The official voice of students of the UC. The student association of the UC opposes any move that decreases access to nonresident students.
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