California Schools Forced to Turn Away Locals

The state of California is currently facing a number of unique challenges, one of which is creating a problem within the California State University system. The system, which once prided itself on admitting worthy local applicants, is facing a severe overcrowding problem and does not have the funds to accommodate them. This has forced them to adopt new policies that can potentially turn away local applicants.

According to an article by Paul Fain for Inside Higher Ed, the California State system must increase its selectivity with applicants, which will hurt local applicants most. San Jose State University president Mohammad Qayoumi announced on April 9 that the university would no longer guarantee admission to students from surrounding Santa Clara County who meet the school’s basic requirements.

The proposal had previously been withdrawn earlier in March after crowded public hearings, but now most observers and faculty feel there is nothing else that can be done. Qayoumi made it clear he felt the situation was caused by a lack of state funding for CSU and SJSU. The budget for the California State system, which serves 427,000 students, has been cut by approximately $1 billion dollars over the past four years. Another $200 million cut could also hit the system this year if a new state tax plan is not adopted.

While the challenges differ slightly from campus to campus, Mike Uhlenkamp, a spokesman for the CSU system, says the school will handle the situation the same at all campuses. Prior to adopting impaction policies, the CSU system was built on access for local students, most of whom belong to minority and low-income groups. The school would admit any local student who was in the top third of their high school, based on grades and test scores. However, under the new policy, if a campus declares itself impacted (having more students than it has state funds to support), it can change requirements for specific majors or academic programs. This means more stringent requirements for local admissions.

The issue started shortly after the economic crisis in 2008, when only six California State campuses declared that they were impacted. By 2009, that number doubled and is currently up to 16 campuses. The most recent to declare, along with San Jose, are Fullerton, San Diego, and San Luis Obispo, while Long Beach is also holding hearings to declare impacted status across every major. This comes along with a 9% increase in total applications.

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