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UCLA is the first school to receive 100,000 freshman applications

Royce Hall on the campus of UCLA in Los Angeles. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

More than 100,000 students have applied to enter UCLA next fall, making the prestigious public university in Southern California the first in the country to report a six-figure total for freshman applications.

University of California officials disclosed Monday that 102,177 students are seeking a spot in the Class of 2021 on the Westwood campus in Los Angeles, up 5 percent from last year. The target size for the entering class is about 6,500.

Those figures don’t include tens of thousands of expected transfer applicants.

These top universities take the most transfer students

The record-setting total reflects surging demand within the nation’s most populous state for UCLA and other UC campuses. It also is a further sign of how top-ranked schools, public and private, are drawing enormous national and international interest.

UCLA Chancellor Gene Block said the university is not trying to gin up demand. “We have no active effort to try to increase the numbers,” he said. Block said the totals show the multidimensional appeal of a public research university with strong academic and athletic traditions in one of the world’s most vibrant cultural centers.

“It’s a brand,” he said. “There’s a lot of pieces to that brand.”

Four other UC campuses received more than 80,000 applications this year: San Diego (88,451), Irvine (85,053), Berkeley (85,012) and Santa Barbara (81,782). Often students apply to more than one UC school, filling out a single electronic questionnaire and paying $70 per school. (International applicants pay $80 per school.)

Federal data show UC campuses draw far more applicants than other four-year universities. In the 2014-2015 school year, the latest with comparative statistics, just six universities nationwide drew at least 60,000 applications. All were UC campuses.

Other schools that year with at least 50,000 applications were California State University at Long Beach (57,322), San Diego State University (56,921), Boston University (54,190), the University of Southern California (51,920), New York University (50,804) and Penn State (50,299).

Among leading private universities, Stanford and Cornell now each draw more than 40,000 applications for admission each year. Stanford has the nation’s lowest admission rate, slightly less than 5 percent.

At UCLA, in-state applications rose 8 percent this year, to 63,478. International applications rose 2 percent, to 17,832. There were another 20,867 domestic applicants from outside California, up 1 percent. In recent years, out-of-state enrollment at UCLA and other major public universities has grown significantly to help offset reductions in state funding, as out-of-state students pay higher tuition. About 27 percent of UCLA freshmen in 2014 were from outside California.

Prominent public universities shift to out-of-state students

Despite the huge volume of applications, UCLA officials say each one will be read at least twice and considered “holistically” before the schools makes admission decisions. The admission rate for the most recent incoming class was 18 percent.

Youlonda Copeland-Morgan, vice provost for enrollment management, said that about 70 people on her staff read applications. In addition, the university pays another 250 seasonal readers to help out. Their rate, Copeland-Morgan said, is about $2 to $3 per application. This supplemental reading crew includes Advanced Placement teachers in high schools, retired admission officers, UCLA faculty and administrators and high school counselors. All are trained experts, she said.

Reading started after the Nov. 30 application deadline and will continue through the holidays until about March 1. Decisions are announced by April 1.

“We’re about access and equity,” Copeland-Morgan said. “The only way we can ensure we’re being equitable is to read every application.”