California public schools should serve California students first

Nicole Stock

Here at Redwood, we’ve grown accustomed to a competitive academic climate, and we know that college admissions are never guaranteed, especially at the University of California schools.The past few years have brought more admissions obstacles for California students, as limitations in revenue have pushed UC schools to accept more nonresident students, even if they are not as qualified as their California counterparts.

According to a recent audit, nonresident enrollment in the UC system increased by 82 percent, or 18,000 students, from 2010-11 to 2014-15, while in-state numbers fell by 1 percent, or 2,200 students. In light of the ever-increasing number of applicants each year, this puts in-state students at a significant disadvantage.

Additionally, the audit reported that the average GPA for admitted domestic nonresidents for six of the nine campuses has been lower than the GPA for admitted residents since 2010-11. So why is it that qualified and well-rounded students are rejected from the UC schools every year?

Years of continual budget cuts to academic departments and athletics suggests it is likely that it is more financially viable for these UCs to take out-of-state students who have to pay a higher tuition than in-state students. While qualified California students whose families pay taxes to help keep the UCs afloat are rejected, students from other states who are not as qualified take their spots.

Although it was outlined in the UC budget plan that more out-of-state students will be accepted into the schools in the coming years in order to combat recent budget cuts and help the UC system survive, these nonresident students must be held to the same standards as the students who are admitted in state.

In May of 2015, the UC regents authorized the university to increase nonresident supplemental tuition up to 8 percent annually, but it doesn’t guarantee that these students will be qualified. Our parents, teachers, and community members should not be paying taxes to fund schools that are housing less qualified, out-of-state students.

The audit also shows that in the past three years, approximately 5,000 out-of-state students were admitted with subpar academic scores (below the median in all categories), taking spots that could have easily gone to in-state students who were qualified.

So what changed in 2011? The answer is a key difference in the admissions policy, allowing schools to pick out-of-state students who “compare favorably” to resident students rather than students on par with the upper half of resident students’ scores.

The UCs argue that the extra revenue brought in from the increased number of out-of-state students is beneficial to the in-state students attending a UC. This is true; the money coming in from the higher tuition that out-of-state students pay does help to fund the UC system.

However, this fails to account for the thousands of qualified students who are rejected from the UCs, and who subsequently often look to either a costly private school or out-of-state public school. In the past few years, the UC system has failed its in-state students by denying them the chance to pursue a quality and relatively affordable education. Even governor Jerry Brown has offered to give the UCs more funding if they accept more resident students; however, they have failed to do so, calling into question their mission to provide California high schoolers with higher education.

Although not every resident applicant is qualified to be accepted to a UC school, those who work hard and have the qualifications to earn a spot at a preferred UC should not be rejected while spots are being handed to lower-achieving nonresident students.

Perhaps it is time for us to rethink the allocation of funds in California, we can make sure that all residents are given an opportunity to pursue affordable and quality higher education.