California State University admissions are becoming increasingly selective in the face of a record increase in applications this fall and a system-wide mandate to shrink the student body by 40,000, the chancellor said today.

The state has cut CSU’s budget by $564 million this fiscal year, making it impossible for the school to educate the same amount of students, Chancellor Charles Reed said in a telephone news conference this morning.

The school cut about 4,000 students from its enrollment this fall, and plans a reduction of 6,000 more students in the spring 2010 semester, in part by closing enrollment to transfer students. CSU must reduce its enrollment by 40,000 in order to operate within the reduced budget, he said.

However, the school’s shrinking pool of resources has not dampened Californians’ desire to attend. The system began accepting applications for the coming school year on Oct. 1 and has since received more than 266,000 applications, he said. Preliminary numbers show a 53 percent increase compared to the same time last year.

This includes 145,000 applications for first-time freshmen, up 32 percent, and 88,000 from potential community college transfer students, a 127 percent jump.

“It’s the largest increase in applications we have ever received,” Reed said.

The system will accept applications through Nov. 30, Reed said. About eight of CSU’s campuses may continue receiving applications another four to six weeks, he said.

Balancing this increased demand with shrinking class size means campuses are imposing additional requirements and restrictions on students’ admission, Reed said.

CSU campuses will give first priority to students in the school’s service area, Reed said.
Students who submit applications on time and meet admissions criteria should beadmitted to their area campus.

University staff has been communicating with high schools and community colleges, and using social media services like Twitter, to urge potential students to submit their applications on time and well ahead of the deadline.

However, schools can set higher standards for admission into popular majors like engineering and business, Reed said. Students who live in a school’s service area and do not get into their major of choice can still be admitted to the campus, Reed said. Then they can work to bring their grades up, take pre-requisite courses and reapply to the major.

“We will produce fewer teachers, fewer nurses, fewer business grads and fewer engineers than what California needs,” Reed said.

This year, CSU received a one-time life raft in the form of $716 million in federal stimulus funds, which Reed said went entirely to the system’s payroll. However the 2009-2010 school year has also featured layoffs, furloughs and fee hikes.

When asked about potential fee increases this spring, Reed said “I’m not ruling it in and I’m not ruling it out.”

Next week, Reed will present a proposed 2010-11 budget to CSU’s board of trustees that includes a request that the state restores $305 million in one-time cuts from 2009-10. The budget also asks for $587 million to cover mandatory cost increases.

Reed allowed that the request is ambitious in the current fiscal climate.

“We need to show the Legislature and the governor what the real needs are of California’s citizens, and to ask them to invest in California’s future and the future workforce of this state,” he said.

California is facing an estimated $7 billion deficit again next fiscal year, according to the most recent estimates from Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

While he admitted his opinion isn’t popular, Reed said he thinks the state invests “way too much money in its prison system.”

“I would rather see us investing in education, specifically giving students an opportunity to get a bachelors degree so they can get a better job,” he said.

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