Students Turned Away at Cal State Universities

LONG BEACH -- Faced with repeated cuts in state funding, Cal State University confirmed Thursday that for the first time ever it will turn away eligible students system-wide -- up to 10,000 of them -- for the 2009-10 academic year.

The system had previously announced the possibility of limiting enrollment to 450,000 students statewide because of a funding shortfall, and made it official Thursday.

The university had already increased class sizes and staffed new courses with lower-paid part-time teachers, but those stop-gap measures failed to solve the crisis, said CSU Chancellor Charles B. Reed.

"We cannot continue to admit students if we do not receive adequate funding from the state to support such enrollment," Reed said. "The quality of all students' education will be degraded by the chronic combination of under-funding and over-enrollment."

Reed declared "impaction" this week, meaning that CSU officials can bypass the state education code that requires it to accommodate all eligible applicants by claiming that the state Legislature has failed to provide adequate funding to do so.

While Reed has declared impaction for individual schools in the past, this was the first time for the entire university system.

Earlier this month, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger predicted that the state's revenue would decline by $11.2 billion by the end of the fiscal year, and proposed $4.7 billion in tax increases coupled with $4.5 billion in further spending cuts.

State funding cuts have backed the university system into a financial corner, and left it currently serving 10,000 more students than the state funds it for, according to university officials.

The university was already operating with $21.5 million less than it needed, and faces a mid-academic year cut of $66.3 million following a cut of $31.3 million.

"The biggest university system in the nation ... is on a starvation diet," said state Lt. Gov. John Garamendi.

CSU campuses will still be required to admit all local eligible first-time freshmen and local upper division transfer students. Other students will be prioritized, with non-California residents receiving the lowest priority.

Supplemental admissions criteria, like grade point average, will also be taken into consideration.

In another bid to control enrollment levels, CSU officials will push up application deadlines.

Campuses that were over-enrolled for this year will stop accepting applications after Nov. 30, and all campuses will close admissions for first-time freshmen by March 1.

Shorter enrollment periods could wind up shutting out students who traditionally apply late. Specifically, this change could hit lower-income families who struggle to find a way to pay for education, Reed said.

"They are not sure how to get together their finances to be able to go to college ... that hesitancy will put them at a disadvantage," he said.

CSU operates 23 campuses statewide.

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