Bleak outlook for applicants to CSU
The California State University system is about to send a harsh message to this year’s high school seniors and community college students aspiring for a four-year degree. In spite of record applications, CSU will admit 7 percent fewer students next year to its 23 campuses, while likely raising tuition yet an additional 10 percent. And, seniors, don’t think about straying too far from the nest: Depending on your field of study, you may be limited to attending the CSU closest to your home.
CSU Chancellor Charles Reed gave the grim assessment at a press conference Tuesday. He made it clear that his recommendations pained him. “Denying students access to the California State University is just about the worst thing I can do during a recession. But we have to provide a quality higher education to students and we cannot educate more students with less.”
The Legislature cut $564 million from the CSU budget this year, leading to furloughs and a 30 percent increase in fees. Cutbacks in admission over two years will reduce the 450,000 students in the system by 40,000. A quarter of that will happen this year, mainly by eliminating, for the second straight year, mid-year transfers from community colleges. The remaining 30,000 will result from fewer freshman admissions and fewer transfers in the fall of 2010.
The Mercury News offered a look at how one CSU campus will do the downsizing. San Jose State, with 30,000 grads and undergrads, will be allotted 2,500 fewer slots next year, on top of the 3,000 cut this year. Admission for the most popular majors – business, nursing, engineering, psychology – will go only to students from Santa Clara County, and will require higher grades and scores. Students outside the local area will be able to compete for spots for less popular majors, like biology, chemistry and computer science. Only those local and non-local qualified students willing to study aviation and chemical engineering – among the least popular majors – will be assured admission.
Applications to the most impacted campuses, such as San Jose State, are due Nov. 30. The early deadline may be one reason why, as of Oct. 1, there already were 266,152 applications to the CSU system, up 53 percent. Freshmen applications had increased by a third.
Reed will ask trustees to approve a 2010-2011 budget seeking $838 million more from the Legislature, restoring university funding to the 2008 level. Of that, $110 million would come from increasing student fees about an additional $500 – to more than $5,300. With midyear state budget cuts coming, and at least a $7 billion gap projected for next year, getting more money from legislators is a moon shot.
But legislators have also balked at cutting the $10 billion prison budget as much as the Gov. Schwarzenegger requested and experts for years have urged. As Reed said, it’s also a matter of priorities.