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University of California Exercising a Form of Economic Affirmative Action?

Emil Photo Again Edited 61b7dabb61239

It’s no secret really. Higher ed has always had a simple way of raising taxes without actually taxing.

In California, I call it the “OOST” boost. That is UC’s deliberate move to admit more students who pay “out-of-state-tuition.”

Admit more who can “oost” your school out of the red, and watch how that revenue can make a difference.

At the UCs, if tuition is normally $12,000 for in-state students, the school simply charges “oosters” twice that (about $23,000).

And of course, that’s all on top of the $12,000. It’s all EXTRA. That’s the boost, and it works.

Get kids into the system from well-heeled families, say from places like New York and New Jersey. They’re the ones most willing to pay through the nose and any other orifice that will simulate an ATM machine.

Schools these days seem all too willing to charge those families a lot more. And without much guilt. Ooster families never paid into the state system in the first place.

It’s sort of like all the hotel taxes you pay on your summer vacation to San Francisco.

Did 16.08 percent seem a tad exorbitant?

The secret is politicians know exactly who to tax. Visitors! They can’t vote them out of office.

In fact, a visitor could stay across the bay in Berkeley (where the tax is 12 percent, but there is no cable car charm). Berkeley would also be closer to your son and daughter at UC, and, if you’re paying out-of-state tuition, you might want to save a buck or two.

Schools have figured it out. Charge ’em. Let them know they’re not paying for California University ― of Pennsylvania.

For the incoming freshman class for the entire UC system, the “oosters” will hit 20.2 percent of the freshman class, up from 15.5 in 2012, according to the Los Angeles Times. UCLA’s freshman class will be more than 30 percent “oosters.” Berkeley and San Diego will be at 29 and 28 percent, respectively.

Poor newish UC Merced in the Central Valley. Just 1.2 percent ooster.

The UCs still aren’t the biggest ooster boosters in the land. Virginia and Michigan are very active in this space.

But UC is getting there, and I admit, it’s a tad worrisome.

As more oosters take up the admissions, what about the qualified students who “live-in-state?” “Listers”? (for L-I-State? My acronym machine is on the fritz).

Those folks certainly may have As, even all As. But they aren’t A-listers.

I know a handful of high school seniors with straight As, top board scores, and, as good as they are, they get rejected. And not because they were bad students. But simply because they didn’t represent revenue. Money talks in the ooster game.

This seems to be the trend in public higher ed in California. Here’s the simple admissions question: What kind of money do you represent to the school?

Somehow that just doesn’t sound right.

When schools are broke and looking for money, it all sounds like a kind of economic affirmative action for schools.

Why don’t we just commit as a nation to adequately fund our public places of higher education?

Wouldn’t that serve us best in the long run?

Emil Guillermo writes on issues of race for the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund ( Like him at ; twitter@emilamok

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