Capitol Alert

California universities make millions on applications they reject

UCLA made more than $6.7 million last year from admission applications, with more than 80 percent of it coming from applications that were ultimately rejected.

UCLA topped a list of 500 higher education institutions, public and private, surveyed by the National Center for Education Statistics and curated by LendEDU, a “marketplace for private student loans, student loan refinancing, credit cards and personal loans,” according to its website.

But UCLA wasn’t alone among California universities to receive considerable revenue from applications. Thirteen California universities were counted among the top 50 for total revenue from applications, with the first six slots going to UCLA, UC San Diego, UC Berkeley, UC Irvine and UC Santa Barbara.

California universities also featured prominently among university revenue from declined applications.

UCLA again claimed the No. 1 spot, with UC Berkeley, UC San Diego, Stanford University, University of Southern California, UC Santa Barbara taking Nos. 2 through 6. In all, 14 California universities were listed among the top 50 schools in revenue from rejected applications.

The survey found application fees ranged from $10 to $150.

In the California State University system, there is a flat application fee of $55. At the University of California system, the fee is $70, which pays for an application to any campus within the system.

CSU spokeswoman Toni Molle wrote in a statement that revenue from the application fees is distributed to the campus or campuses to which the student applied, and that the money goes into the campus operating fund.

Mike Brown of LendEDU wrote in his analysis that application fees help not only to ensure professionals were paid to review a prospective student’s application, but to prevent students from bogging down the entire system with frivolous applications.

“Nevertheless, it is interesting to think that colleges and universities throughout the U.S. bring in millions upon millions of dollars in revenue solely from applications to their own schools,” he wrote.

So how did California universities fare in LendEDU’s 500 universities with the highest admission-to-enrollment rate?

Of the top 50 universities, just five were in California and none were public schools. They were Stanford University (No.2), Claremont McKenna College (No. 28) and Pomona College (No. 30). Robert Morris University Illinois was tops.

That ratio was calculated by dividing the total number of enrolled students by the total number of accepted applicants, then multiplying by 100.

“To be considered for this ranking, a college had to have over 2,500 applicants,” according to LendEDU.

To see the full list, visit

Andrew Sheeler: 805-781-7934, @andrewsheeler
Andrew Sheeler covers California’s unique political climate for McClatchy. He has covered crime and politics from Interior Alaska to North Dakota’s oil patch to the rugged coast of southern Oregon. He attended the University of Alaska Fairbanks.