Millions for Nonexistent Higher Education Enrollment Growth

The University of California and the California State University system would receive $112 million in Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s proposed budget for the state fiscal year beginning July 1 to pay for increased enrollment even though UC, CSU – and the governor’s own spending plan – shows enrollment will decline next year.

The revelation comes on Page 17 of the Legislative Analyst’s 45-page assessment of higher education spending in the GOP governor’s budget, which he presented to lawmakers in January.

Schwarzenegger highlighted higher education spending in his January State of the State speech saying California “can no longer afford to cut higher education and backing a constitutional amendment prohibiting prison spending from exceeding that for higher education.

“Spending 45 percent more on prisons than universities is no way to proceed into the future,” Schwarzenegger said in the January 6 speech.

“What does it say about our state? What does it say about any state that focuses more on prison uniforms than on caps and gowns? It simply is not healthy.”

Under Schwarzenegger’s proposal, the $112 million would cover enrollment increases of 2.5 percent at both UC and CSU.

UC would receive $51.3 million to pay for an additional 5,121 full time students. CSU would get $60.6 million to pay for an additional 8,290 students.

However UC and CSU have both taken steps to reduce enrollment and estimate lower – not higher – enrollment next year.

UC plans to curtail freshman enrollment by 1,500 next year – after reducing freshmen enrollments by 2,300 this year.

This year, UC estimates it has 213,880 fulltime students, which will fall to 213,049. Despite the $112 million for enrollment growth, Schwarzenegger estimates the UC will have 209,977 students next year.

CSU, which received a record 609,000 applications for admission last fall, has announced plans to reduce admissions by 40,000 over the next three years.

It plans to reduce enrollment by approximately 30,000 students next year – a 9 percent drop from the current year and a 13 percent decrease over two years counting this year’s reductions of 17,000.

The 23-campus system estimates enrollment will fall from 340,643 to 310,317 next year. The GOP governor’s budget shows enrollment of 339,873.

Both UC and CSU say that their planned reductions would be smaller if they were given more money, as Schwarzenegger proposes, but they still expect lower enrollment next year.

“Providing enrollment growth funding for the universities in the budget year does not make sense because neither UC nor CSU would actually enroll more students,” the analyst wrote.

“In fact, the governor’s proposed enrollment levels, as well as (UC and CSU’s) own plans call for reduced enrollment.”

Schwarzenegger’s budget plan contains a “cut list” of additional spending reductions if California does not receive $6.9 billion in federal money sought by the GOP governor.

The $112 million for UC and CSU is on that list.


Filed under: Budget and Economy


  1. Thanks for bringing some sanity to the budget process. You’d think if you can figure this out, that the Governor’s own Budget staff could as well. Sounds like this is padding they put in the budget for help in balancing the budget or they want to show growth to help perpetuate a myth that everything is just fine, no budget problems, we can handle growth…yeah right.

    Comment by Jack Johnson — 3.10.2010 @ 8:22 am

  2. The only problem with this logic is that the UC’s and CSU’s have cut enrollment, not because of declining interest, but because of declining revenues. It stands to reason that they will increase enrollment if they receive additional funds. The additional funds may also help to offset fee hikes that have started to make college less affordabel for California students. It’s bizarre to me to suggest that we should not raise spending on higher ed because our institutions decided in hard economic times that they needed to cut enrollment to live within their means. Economy of this kind may work in a company, but for a college, it’s rediculous. Sure it’s cheaper to educate no one, but that will only ensure the failure of our state and out nation. We need more qualified graduates, not fewer.

    Comment by Anonymous — 3.10.2010 @ 10:12 am

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