The University of California received a record number of undergraduate applications for this year's fall term -- perhaps at a time UC can least afford it.

Every one of the nine undergraduate campuses experienced an application bump, with a 9 percent hike systemwide. UC Berkeley freshman applications were up nearly 10 percent, while transfer applications rose 11.5 percent.

More than 121,000 students applied for admissions this year, up from about 111,000 last year.

But while UC leaders said today they were happy to see the bump, they also noted that California's budget crisis threatens to stall the university's commitment to admitting every qualified applicant. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has proposed giving UC $417 million less than it requested.

"Providing access . . . has been one of our central historic priorities," UC Provost Rory Hume told reporters. "We face a significant challenge this year."

Options include steep student-fee increases or limiting enrollment, he said.

Administrators also said they were pleasantly surprised by a significant boost in transfer applications, which rose by double digits on most campuses. The results appear to stem from several factors, UC leaders said, including increased recruiting at community colleges.

Matt Krupnick covers higher education. Reach him at 925-943-8246 or mkrupnick@bayareanewsgroup.com.



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