Can Out-of-State Students Save the University of California System?

university of california berkley out of state resized 600By Purvi S. Mody

Over the last two years, California residents have been dealing with the consequences of a failing budget. One of the areas that has been hardest hit has been the University of California system, which can over the next year lose another half-billion in funding. As a result, the Board of Regents made the decision to admit more out-of-state students that pay full tuition rates that equal three times that of what a California resident pays.

Nearly One-Third of Accepted Berkeley & UCLA Students Were From Out-of-State

The UC Office of the President has reported that out-of-state students account for an overall 18 percent of admitted students, an increase of four percent from the previous year. And the most selective UCs showed the greatest increases. UC Berkeley and UCLA reported that nearly one-third of their accepted students were non-residents. But Dr. Vu Tran, Director of Admissions at UCLA, stated that while UCLA hopes to enroll 150 more non-residents, the University made a firm commitment to California residents and also plans to enroll 400 more residents this year. UCLA was the only UC to report a higher acceptance rate than last year. While many families have felt squeezed out of the UCs this year, this shift can also have many positive returns.

Out-of-State Tuition Rates Lessen the Blow of Education Budget Cuts

The first benefit is obviously financial. The additional fees that non-residents pay can help to offset the the cuts the universities are facing from the state budget. This money will allow the schools to continue to provide the high quality programs that we have come to expect from the UC system. Fewer classes will be reduced or altogether cut. More professors will be retained. Research centers can continue to operate. Advising programs can provide staff for students throughout their education. The UCs can also continue to financially support California families that cannot afford the full cost of a UC education. First and foremost, the Universities can provide the world-class education that they have been providing for decades.

Geographic Diversity in the Student Body Benefits On-Campus Life

The more geographically diverse class can also be advantageous. Much of the learning that students experience on campus comes from their peers. They learn about different experiences, lifestyles, cultures, and religions. They also learn first-hand about different political and economic systems. A diversity of students should make class discussions more interesting because of the varying viewpoints.

ucla out of state students

Admitting More Out-of-Staters Raises Brand Recognition for the Schools

Admitting more non-residents will also increase the value of the UC brand throughout the United States and internationally. This can be especially beneficial for the schools that are not currently internationally ranked or recognized. As students graduate and then go back to their home states and countries, they will increase awareness of the University of California system. These students are also more likely to donate to their alma mater further increasing their monetary value. There is also a greater chance that more top companies will recruit on campus.

Other Top-Tier Public Colleges Continue the Trend

The Regents’ decision to admit more non-resident students is a major change for the UC system, but it is a policy that many other public universities have long held and its benefits are obvious. The engineering and business programs at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign often attract non-resident applicants. These two programs are highly ranked internationally and the degrees students get carry value wherever in the world they are. University of Michigan aims to enroll nearly one-third non-Michigan residents. That is the same percentage that University of Washington at Seattle had in their freshman class last year. And while the State of Texas mandates that students in the top 5% of their graduating class must be admitted to UT Austin, more and more non-Texas-residents are sending in applications. And the University of Virginia remains one of the most competitive schools to get into.

Non-resident students will likely make up less than 10% of the Freshman class at the University of California next year. Many of the admitted students will opt to attend other schools. The Admissions Offices knew this in advance and expected a much lower yield for these types of applicants. In an ideal world, the UCs could admit as many in-state students as before and have space for non-residents as well. Hopefully admitting more non-residents now will give the University of California more financial flexibility in the future.

Purvi S. Mody is co-owner of Insight Education, an educational consulting firm that helps students throughout the country and internationally to achieve their educational goals. Get in touch with her via email at or follow her on Twitter @InsightEduc.


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