By Matt Krupnick
Bay Area News Group Staff Writer
Overwhelmed by severe budget cuts, San Jose State for the first time may not give preference to Santa Clara County residents this year even if they meet state university admission standards.
California State University leaders will decide Friday whether the San Jose campus needs to turn away about 1,400 South Bay applicants who would have previously been admitted. The university has begun sending acceptance notices to about 21,000 applicants, as the campus has received more applications than ever.
San Jose State has held back notices for about 3,000 others as university leaders debate what to do with them, said campus spokeswoman Patricia Harris. Those who are turned away will be able to apply to other Cal State campuses, she said.
"This is a prime example of why a plan B is important," Harris said. "And grades and test scores do matter."
The new admissions standards are only the latest change to hit the university as the state has severely slashed financial support in recent years. Tuition has more than tripled in the past nine years, with annual tuition currently at $5,472 for a full-time undergraduate student. The university's role as a safe, less expensive but solid education for local high school graduates is shifting, perhaps forever.
San Jose State is one of four of the system's 23 campuses that have required higher grades and test scores than less popular campuses. But applicants from South Bay high schools and community colleges were considered using minimum systemwide requirements rather than the higher campus ones. Because San Jose State has received more applicants than it can accommodate for all majors offered, it has been forced to raise admission standards for every major.
California guarantees admission to Cal State for the top one-third of high school graduates. The top one-eighth is guaranteed a spot at one of the University of California's nine undergraduate campuses.
San Diego State, Cal State Fullerton and Cal Poly San Luis Obispo also have been overwhelmed by an annual deluge of applications. More than 42,000 applications flooded San Jose State last year, about twice as many as Cal State East Bay received.
The statewide university system weathered $750 million in cuts last year and could see an additional $200 million in "trigger" cuts if voters turn away tax proposals this year.
It was not clear Wednesday whether other Cal State campuses also were considering drastic admissions measures to make ends meet. Officials at Cal State East Bay and San Francisco State said they were not limiting admissions.
San Jose State's enrollment will probably decline slightly in the fall but will remain close to 27,000, Harris said. The state has not provided funding for higher enrollment, she said.
"If we were to admit everyone, we'd be well over our target enrollment," Harris said. "The state is not going to give us extra money for those students. We're already as close to the bone as we can get."
Though the reduction in student slots may be new to South Bay high school students, it's not for other prospective SJSU students. In 2009, the school cut 2,500 student slots after reducing the student body by 3,000 in 2008. Both times, Santa Clara County students were exempt. In 2009, San Jose State for the first time turned away qualified students, though they were all from outside the county.