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CSU applications up 53% from last year

The increase puts added pressure on the 23-campus university system, which has raised tuition 30% this year and plans to cut enrollment by 400,000 students in the face of a severe budget crisis.

November 11, 2009|Carla Rivera

More students are applying to California State University campuses so far this year, even as university officials are preparing to slash enrollment and tighten admission standards in response to the most severe budget crisis in the system's history.

Since Oct. 1, Cal State has received 266,152 applications, a 53% increase over the same period last year, Chancellor Charles B. Reed said during a conference call Tuesday. Freshman applications are up 32% over the same period.

A large part of the increase is from sophomores seeking to transfer from community colleges. Such transfers were closed during the spring admission cycle.

But many applicants may not find a space. Reed said the university system will move forward with plans to slash enrollment by 40,000 students over the next two years to contend with a $564-million budget cut for the 2009-10 fiscal year.

"Denying students access to the California State University is just about the worst thing I can do during a recession," Reed said. "But we have to provide a quality higher education to students and we cannot educate more students with less."

It is unclear how many applicants will be rejected after the Nov. 30 deadline most campuses have adopted, Reed said. "One thing I know is that in the past Cal State was very lenient in admitting students who hadn't completed all of their course work or liberal arts requirements. I believe those students are going to be turned away."

Reed is seeking an $884-million increase in state general funds for the 23-campus system. The university raised student fees 30% this year and imposed furloughs on nearly all employees.

The Board of Trustees is expected to vote on the new budget -- which may include a 10% fee hike -- next week before it goes to the governor and Legislature.

For Cal State campuses, it was more grim news. Many already have enrollment caps and give priority to qualified students from their own community. More are taking measures to expedite graduations to make room for new students.

At Cal Poly Pomona, for example, students with enough credits for a degree will be notified they've met graduation requirements and will not be readmitted. Students there are generally being limited to one major and those who pledge to graduate in four years are given priority registration, said spokesman Tim Lynch.

Shrinking enrollments bode ill for students and faculty, said Lisa Alex, a Cal Poly Pomona chemistry professor and vice chair of the school's Academic Senate.

"You wonder if there's going to be a disillusioned group of young people not knowing what they are going to do," she said. "Many junior faculty are looking for other positions or they worry that they won't have the opportunities they thought they were going to have. It's a little scary."

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carla.rivera@latimes.com

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