A transfer-only university system?

State funding pressures could “radically reduce” university’s mission

transfer-university-fundingCould California State University one day limit enrollment to transfers, admitting burgeoning numbers of community college students but turning away new freshmen?

The idea sounds far-fetched, but that scenario was raised Tuesday (Sept. 9) by trustees who cautioned that insufficient state funding could radically reduce the mission of the nation’s largest university system.

The warning came during a discussion of the preliminary 2015-16 budget, which predicted growing demand for the 23-campus system. The Cal State system drew a record 761,000 applications for the fall 2014 term.

Much of that demand, officials said, is likely to come from community college transfers for two reasons: increased state funding is expected to boost two-year college enrollment by 60,000 students this year, and increased numbers of community college students will earn associate degrees for transfer, which guarantee admission to a Cal State campus.

After years of budget cuts and enrollment declines, funding for the Cal State system is increasing under Gov. Jerry Brown’s multiyear plan that calls for an additional $119.5 million each for the Cal State and University of California systems in 2015-16.

But that number is $116.5 million short of what the Cal State system says it needs for operations, including a target enrollment increase of about 12,000 students. About half the students who qualify for Cal State entry but are turned away end up at community colleges, further increasing the transfer numbers, officials said.

(Next page: The makings of a “train wreck” for university mission)

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