SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — The University of California on Thursday reported a 13 percent increase in students applying for undergraduate admission, driven by a surge in out-of-state applications and a new policy aimed at expanding the applicant pool.
The UC system received nearly 161,000 applications, a record high, from freshman and transfer applicants for fall 2012, with all nine UC undergraduate campuses reporting gains, according to the university.
The sharp increase shows demand for a UC education remains strong despite a series of sharp tuition increases prompted by state budget cuts. But the system can't accommodate the increased demand without more money from the state, officials said.
"Students will have a harder time being admitted to their campus of choice," said Kate Jeffery, UC's interim director of undergraduate admissions.
UC officials partly attribute the increase to a new admissions policy intended to broaden the range of applicants. Under new rules that go into effect this application season, students are no longer required to take SAT subject exams, which made many qualified students ineligible for admission, officials said.
The university reported the number of freshman applicants jumped 19 percent, while applications from students seeking to transfer from other colleges fell by more than 4 percent.
The overall increase was driven by a 56 percent spike in freshman applications from students outside the state and country. The university received 33,000 applications from out-of-state students, up from about 21,000 last year.
In recent years, UC campuses have stepped up recruitment of nonresidents who pay $36,000 in annual tuition, compared with $13,000 for residents.
"I think the word has gotten out that the university welcomes applicants from out of state and other countries," Jeffery said.
Currently, about 7 percent of UC undergraduates are from outside California. A university policy limits the percentage of nonresident students to 10 percent of undergrads across the system. Individual campuses can exceed that limit.
The number of California residents applying for freshman admission rose by almost 10 percent to more than 93,000, even though the number of students graduating from the state's high schools is projected to remain the same, officials said.
The university reported an increase in applications from every racial group. African Americans and Latinos increased as a proportion of the applicant pool, while whites declined and Asians remained roughly the same.
Among California freshman applicants, the pool was 32 percent Asian, 30 percent Latino, 28 percent white, 6 percent black and less than 1 percent American Indian. The share of applicants from low-income families rose modestly to 39 percent.
UC Berkeley and UCLA, the system's largest and most competitive campuses, saw the biggest jumps in applications, with each school receiving about 12 percent more than last year.
The drop in transfer applicants may reflect the difficulty community college students are having getting the classes they need to transfer to a UC school, Jeffery said.
UC campuses will begin notifying applicants about their admission decisions in March.