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May 29, 2012 7:55 AM How California Pays for College

By Daniel Luzer

University of California Berkeley Chancellor Robert Birgeneau, unsurprisingly, objects to a proposed state constitutional amendment that would limit out-of-state enrollment at University of California schools to 10 percent of the student population.

The amendment was introduced by Sen. Michael Rubio on May 16.

As Rubio, a Democrat, puts it, the amendment “ensures that California students get a fair shot of attending our University of California system — and not be turned away simply because a wealthy student from the East Coast or abroad shows up with a checkbook in hand.” According to Birgeneau, however:

Our policy of increasing non-resident undergraduate enrollment to 20% of our student body is crucial to ensuring a predictable and reliable revenue stream and maintaining affordability for our California students while also enriching the educational experience for our students. Students from other parts of the United States, and from around the world, are valuable members of the Cal community and it has been my long-held view that an increase in out-of-state and international undergraduate students is a critical educational goal at Berkeley. In addition to generating funds for educational support and financial aid, they also bring perspectives, experiences, and cultures to the campus, that benefit all students.
So, what would the consequences be for our California undergraduate students at Berkeley if the number of out-of-state and international students were capped at 10%? First, this would lead to a shortfall in revenue of nearly $60,000,000 which would inevitably have to be made up by an increase in tuition. This would amount to about $3,000 per student, thence increasing the burden on Californian students to a near intolerable level. For Berkeley undergraduates who must take out loans this would increase their indebtedness on graduation from the current value of $16,000 to as much as $28,000.

He’s got a point. Berkeley doesn’t let in all of these out-of-state students because its especially fond of them; it does so to make up for gaps in state funding.

It’s understandable that Rubio might try to ensure that the UC says full of Californians but it seems rather reckless to force the UCs to admit fewer out-of-state students without providing the system with more money to make that decision financially responsible.

California State Legislature provided $750 million less in support for the University of California system than it did last year.

Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer

Comments

  • PQuincy on May 29, 2012 8:50 PM:

    Thank you for your closing observations.

    After the State Legislature -- which is overwhelmingly dominated by Democrats, though California's weird constitution also gives Republicans a blocking minority on pretty much everything -- goes ahead and cuts $750m of permanent funding to the UC system in JUST THE LAST YEAR (which means that the total per-student funding to the UC system is now about 40% of what it was 20 years ago), Senator Rubio then proposes to cut off one of the few remaining sources of funding for the UC system aside from California families.

    What a great idea! I think, though, that he should also propose a law providing ponies to every incoming freshman. His proposal just feels so incomplete, otherwise.