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Enrollment cap, more UCLA applicants lead to fewer admissions

By Jeong Park

April 18, 2014 6:42 p.m.

UCLA accepted freshman applicants at a record-low rate and admitted fewer in-state students than last year, according to preliminary admissions data the University of California released Friday.

Only 18.2 percent of freshmen were admitted to UCLA for the 2014-2015 academic year, a drop from last year’s 20.1 percent.

UCLA tightened its acceptance rate this year because it set an enrollment target that was the same as last year, even though it received more than 6,000 additional applications, said Youlonda Copeland-Morgan, associate vice chancellor for enrollment management at UCLA.

Copeland-Morgan added that UCLA is expecting a higher rate of students who accept their admission offers, especially among in-state students. She said these factors led to UCLA accepting fewer students than it did last year.

“UCLA continues to be a destination point for top students in California and across the nation,” Copeland-Morgan said.

In some recent years, UCLA has enrolled more students than it anticipated. In 2011, UCLA over-enrolled by about 600 students and had to spend an extra $16 million to offer enough courses. Copeland-Morgan said UCLA matched its enrollment target last year and she does not think UCLA will overshoot the target this year.

While the freshman enrollment target remains stagnant, UCLA said in a statement that it intends to enroll 200 more transfer students this year. Transfer applicant decisions will be released Friday.

Both in-state and out-of-state students suffered from this year’s lower acceptance rate.

UCLA accepted the smallest number of in-state students since 2004, even though the number of in-state applications has increased by nearly 50 percent in the last 10 years. Out of 55,949 in-state applicants, only 16.3 percent were accepted this year.

“In-state students have a highest yield rate,” Copeland-Morgan said. “As the yield increases for California and international students, we lower the number of admits.”

UCLA admitted the same number of applicants from outside of California as last year, although the amount of applications grew by 19.6 percent. The acceptance rate for nonresident applicants, which consist of international and out-of-state students, declined from 26 percent last year to 21.7 percent this year.

Out-of-state students were accepted at a higher rate than international students, as was the case last year. Only 17 percent of international students were accepted this year and about 26 percent of out-of-state students were accepted.

The share of nonresidents among admitted students at UCLA now make up for 42 percent of the admitted student pool. This represents a seismic change compared to five years ago, when only 18 percent of the admitted student pool were nonresidents.

Stephen Handel, UC associate vice president of undergraduate admissions, said in a conference call that applicants from outside of California are less likely to enroll in the UC than in-state students. Even though 41 percent of the admitted student pool at UCLA were nonresidents last year, only 30 percent of the freshman class were from out of state.

Across the UC, the number of accepted California students has remained consistent the past few years, he said.

“There are some concerns … that out-of-state students and international students are displacing California students,” Handel said. “That’s not simply true.”

Handel said while Proposition 30, a voter measure that increased income taxes on the high-income earners and sales taxes, that was passed in 2012 and saved the UC from getting a large cut in state funding, the proposition did not provide funding for more enrollment of in-state students.

The number of California high school students is expected to remain stagnant through the next decade after experiencing nonstop growth for about two decades. It’s uncertain whether this will lead to more nonresidents enrolling in the UC in the future, although Handel said the UC has not established a cap for nonresidents.

The UC admitted 86,865 students this year, about a 5 percent increase compared to last year. UC Berkeley was the most selective campus, accepting only 17.3 percent of freshman applicants. UCLA was the most selective UC campus last year.

Handel said not only are more students applying, but high school students are applying to more UC campuses than in the past as well. Freshman applicants this year applied to an average of four UC campuses, compared to about 3.5 UC campuses freshmen applied to in 2009, he said.

For the first time, Latinos became the second largest racial/ethnic group of admitted freshman applicants in the UC, outnumbering white students. Handel said growing UC outreach and changing demographics led to the change.

Community Affairs Director Audrey Dow of the Campaign for College Opportunity, which seeks to bring higher-education access to underrepresented groups, said the change in the composition is encouraging.

“It shows us where California is going,” Dow said. “The fact that the UC is reflecting that is positive.”

However, Dow said the low number of black students is discouraging, and emphasized the UC needs to start outreaching for middle school students earlier to middle school students.

Friday’s admission data do not include referral or waitlist applicants. Admitted freshmen have until May 1 to submit their statement of intent to enroll in the UC.

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