For the second year in a row, the University of California has received a record number of applicants for undergraduate admission with UCLA leading the pack, data shows.
The swell is a double-edged sword for hopeful students trying to snag a spot in one of the nation’s largest university systems, according to UC officials.
"The good news is that the University of California is recognized widely by students and their families as the place for an excellent education that’s financially affordable," said Dianne Klein, spokeswoman for the UC system. "That, of course, attracts a lot of applicants so the competition for these spots increases."
UCLA attracted the most applications for the 2013-14 school year at nearly 100,000, an 8.8 percent increase from last year. Applications to UCLA grew nearly 13 percent year over year from 2011 to 2012.
Still, admission rates to the Los Angeles campus will likely stay at 2012-13 levels, said Ricardo Vazquez, spokesman for UCLA.
For the 2012-13 academic year, UCLA admitted 15,455 high school seniors, 9,263 of which are California residents, according to the university.
Slightly more than 80,000 high school seniors are vying for those spots in the 2013-14 freshman class, up 10.8 percent from last year, according to university data.
Applications to UC Riverside grew 12.2 percent since last year.
All nine undergraduate UC campuses reported gains, and the number of students applying to attend UC this fall rose nearly 9 percent to 175,000. The total includes 140,000 freshman applicants and 35,000 students seeking to transfer, according to university data.
Even though tuition has doubled over the past five years to about $13,000 for California residents and $36,000 for out-of-state students, the latest application shows a strong demand for a UC education.
University data shows growth in all applicant groups, except for transfers from California community colleges, which fell 1 percent.
- California residents (freshman and transfer): +5 percent to 129,000
- Out-of-state applications: +14 percent to 23,000
- International applications: +31 percent to 23,000
And the number of applicants rose in each demographic group:
- Latino: 32 percent
- Asian-American: 30 percent
- White: 29 percent
- African-American: 6 percent
- Native American: 1 percent
Berkeley attracted the second-highest amount of applications at 84,000, followed by San Diego at 82,000 and Santa Barbara at 76,000. The average California applicant applied to about four campuses.
While it is still too soon to tell if campus admission rates will increase to accommodate the growing number of applicants, Klein said the system is "still holding to the master plan."
"Those students who qualify for a UC, we will take and that is the top 12.5 percent of all high school graduates in California," she said.
Over the past five years, the UC system has absorbed almost $1 billion in cuts from the state. Gov. Jerry Brown’s proposed budget includes a 5 percent increase for state higher education, which faces a $150 million core educational budget shortfall.
The system was able to increase resident enrollment by about 1 percent last year, and an increase in out-of-state students – which pay some $23,000 more in tuition – helped mitigate some of the cuts, Klein said.
Last year, the UC system reported a 13 percent increase in undergraduate applicants, driven by a 56 percent jump in out-of-state applications as well as a new policy aimed at expanding the applicant pool.