University of California President Janet Napolitano is asking the system's governing board for permission to enroll 5,000 more California residents next fall at the nine campuses that serve undergraduates.
The request, made public Monday in background materials for an upcoming Board of Regents meeting, is good news for high school seniors and community college students whose UC applications for fall 2016 are due at the end of the month.
If approved by the regents, the additional slots for freshmen and transfer students from within California would increase new in-state enrollment by 10 percent over this year, the biggest bump in at least a decade.
"What we want to do is expand access for California undergraduates," said Napolitano, who also is proposing another 2,500 new in-state seats for fall 2017 and fall 2018.
Out of the estimated 61,700 students who entered UC schools as first-time freshmen or upper-division transfer students this fall, a little more than 49,000 were from California, preliminary system data show.
Lawmakers have pressured the university to make room for more Californians amid concerns that campuses were admitting more higher-paying students from other states and abroad to boost their budgets.
The state budget approved in June earmarked an extra $25 million for the University of California if the system registered 5,000 more in-state students by the 2016-17 academic year.
The funds would cover about half of what the enrollment increase would cost because the university estimates it spends about $10,000 a year not covered by tuition educating every Californian enrolled, UC spokeswoman Dianne Klein said.
"We want to do this, and it's a challenge to figure out how we are going to do it. But we are absolutely going to do it," Klein said.
The enrollment target is contained in a budget proposal the UC Board of Regents is scheduled to consider on Nov. 19-20 that also recommends keeping in-state undergraduate tuition at the same level it has been since the 2011-12 school year.
Napolitano said the new seats would be funded in part by phasing out the university's practice of awarding state financial aid to economically eligible students from other countries and states, a move that would free up $36 million.
Under the plan put forward by Napolitano, the university would add 1,200 non-Californians as undergraduates in 2016, fewer than it did this year.
The tuition premium that students from outside the state pay would increase by 8 percent, bringing their total to $39,975 compared to $12,291 for residents.
The university also plans to ask the state for $6 million to expand graduate student enrollment by 600 next year, Napolitano said.