Will California make up for UC Riverside being less popular with out-of-state students?

Source: Cal Matters

Despite enrolling more low-income undergraduate students than any other University of California campus last year, UC Riverside is also the least-funded UC campus. 

UC Riverside gets $8,600 in state support for instruction of each student, well below the systemwide average of around $10,000. 

Fewer out-of-state students — who pay about three times more in tuition than in-state students — choosing to attend the Inland Empire campus is a key reason for the disparity. All told, UC Riverside generates about $6,000 less in revenue per student than the other UC campuses when factoring in the two main revenue sources — state support and tuition revenue.

UCLA and UC Berkeley lead all campuses with more than $29,000 in revenues per student from those sources. UC Riverside brings in about $21,000. The financial disparity data comes from a UC Riverside analysis of 2018-19 UC systemwide figures. The data excludes information about UC Merced and UC San Francisco because those campuses are funded differently.

The Legislature, driven in large part by Assemblymember Jose Medina, wants to help the campus make up the difference with as much as $790 million in one-time funding and $80 million annually.

The university’s supporters are now waiting to see if Gov. Gavin Newsom agrees. 

UC Riverside gets $8,600 in state support for instruction of each student, well below the systemwide average of around $10,000, according to 2018-19 UC system data.

 

Fewer out-of-state students — who pay about three times more than in-state students — choosing to attend the Inland Empire campus is a key reason for the disparity. All told, UC Riverside generates about $6,000 less in revenue per student than the other UC campuses when factoring in the two main revenue sources, state support and tuition revenue.

UCLA and UC Berkeley lead all campuses with more than $29,000 in revenues per student from those sources. UC Riverside brings in about $21,000. 

Seeking state help

The Legislature is pushing to include hundreds of millions of dollars for UC Riverside and several other campuses with historically less funding in the upcoming state budget that’ll begin July 1. Leading the effort is Medina, a Democrat from Riverside, who’s in his final term in office and has marked additional funding for UC Riverside as one of his two legislative priorities this year, in addition to expanding student financial aid across the state.

To underscore UC Riverside’s funding woes, Medina held a press conference in June outside a movie theater that for nearly 25 years UC Riverside has leased as classroom space for courses with large enrollments. The Inland Empire campus is short 4,700 classroom seats for students, while UCLA and UC Berkeley have more seats for instruction than they need.

But UC Riverside’s money problems have less to do with state support than how the UC system distributes state dollars to the individual campuses, which is based on a formula UC Riverside says is unfair. Another UC rule further leads to a funding gap between the other UC campuses and UC Merced and Riverside: The system allows campuses to keep all their revenue from non-resident students. Because the two inland campuses enroll a far smaller share of non-resident students than do the other campuses, they get relatively less money from tuition revenue.

Are those good reasons for the state to supply UC Riverside and Merced with more dollars?

Medina said yes. “It will be an economic stimulus for our area,” he said in an interview with CalMatters. 

And funding for specific campuses has precedent. Last year lawmakers injected nearly $500 million to transform Cal State Humboldt into a polytechnic university. Medina himself pushed hard to secure annual state funding for UC Riverside’s school of medicine a decade ago.

Medina added that additional state support will make up for past underfunding.