UC Berkeley’s 2022-23 enrollment season was like no other, marked by a lawsuit and subsequent court ruling that threatened to drastically reduce the number of first-year students offered admission for the fall of 2022.
Finally, state legislation signed into law in March allowed UC Berkeley to offer admission to more than 19,700 incoming freshmen and transfer students in the new academic year — the same target number as originally planned.
UC Berkeley admissions data was released today in collaboration with University of California officials, who released freshman and transfer admissions data for all nine UC undergraduate campuses.
At UC Berkeley, approximately 14,600 students were offered admission as freshmen, and approximately 5,250 students were offered as transfer students.
The incoming freshman and transfer classes are comparable in terms of academic strength and ethnic diversity to those of the previous two academic years. Some notable differences include more California students being offered freshman admission and more attractive financial aid packages being offered to those who need it most.
Unprecedented acceptance cycle
The admissions cycle began in the fall of 2021 with a record number of students applying, as it does almost every year: more than 128,000 applied for admission as freshmen in the fall of 2022.
But the prospects for a seat at UC Berkeley appeared much more competitive than expected when, in early March, the month the campus annually releases offers of admission, a court ruling required UC Berkeley to drastically reduce enrollment. The ruling prompted campus officials to explore creative options, such as offering some students distance-only enrollment for the fall 2022 semester.
Fortunately, state lawmakers and Governor Gavin Newsom created a new law that addressed the legal issue, and as a result, UC Berkeley was able to move forward with its original admissions and enrollment plans.
Through it all, the campus value system—which includes equity, inclusion, and diversity—guided the approach to the crisis and led to the good news that followed.
“This was our Severnica,” said Olufemi Ogundele, associate vice chancellor for enrollment management and dean of undergraduate admissions at UC Berkeley. “During the challenges of the past year, our commitment to diversity and ensuring economic mobility has not weakened. It was solidified.”
Officials from departments, units, and programs across campus have reflected these commitments and values, and despite another pandemic year and legal challenge, their collective work has resulted in a freshman and transfer class that is strong academically and diverse ethnically, geographically, economically, and to academic interests, says Ogundele.
Freshmen processing and admission
Estimates of the number of freshmen who have accepted offers of admission will not be available until the start of the fall semester, but early indicators show that far more than the expected number of freshmen who have been offered admission have accepted those offers.
Ogundele credits stronger financial aid packages, as well as more opportunities for newly admitted students to participate. In order to offer this, it was necessary to invest more resources in events in California. New events were added, as well as new locations, and campus presence was increased in each regional program. There was also a mix of virtual and larger in-person events, as well as special events designed to foster community among diverse student populations. One event, “Strength in Community,” brought underprivileged students from Northern California to campus to hear from administrators and others about financial aid, support services and student groups.
“Because of the pandemic, many institutions have had fewer events,” Ogundele said. “We decided to have more — more in California than the last few years before the pandemic. New regions that we haven’t tried before. We accepted the students and we can see that all these efforts have borne fruit.”
Newcomer acceptance rate
While this winter’s litigation ultimately did not affect the number of admission offers, the percentage of students offered admission declined based on standard admissions planning efforts.
Each year, UC Berkeley projects the next year’s enrollment goal based on a number of factors, which may include the previous year’s final enrollment numbers. With more freshmen and transfer students accepting offers for fall 2021 than expected, and with the number of enrolled students returning to school after taking time off during the first year of the pandemic, campus officials planned to cut target number of enrollments for fall 2022.
Based on this enrollment planning effort and an increase in freshman applications, the percentage of applicants offered admission dropped from about 14% in fall 2021 to 11% in fall 2022. There were approximately 16,400 freshman offers for fall 2021, for fall 2022 and about 14,600. (The number of students offered standard in-person admission for Fall 2022 would have been significantly lower had the litigation issues not been resolved by the new state law.
The fall 2022 incoming freshman class comes from 53 of California’s 58 counties, 55 US states and territories, and 88 countries. About 60% of the admitting class (more than 8,800) identify as female, while 2% (about 300 students) identify as non-binary—double the number of last year’s admitting class. About 20% of admitted students are first-generation—neither of their parents has a four-year college degree.
Across ethnic groups, the number of students offered admission fell across all categories – again, according to admissions officers, as a result of fewer offers to students compared to the previous year. Among all racial groups, including African Americans/Blacks and Latinos and Native Americans, their percentage representation in the new class remained the same or comparable to that of last year’s admitted class.
Among transfer students, the national trend of a pandemic-related decline in community college enrollment was reflected in UC Berkeley (and the UC system) applications.
At UC Berkeley, fall 2022 transfer student applications fell 13% to about 19,300 applicants. Around 5,250 were offered admission (up from 4,900 last year), resulting in a 27% acceptance rate compared to 22% the previous year. .
Compared to last year, the number of underrepresented transfer students offered admission increased in every ethnic category except Native American, which has three fewer students admitted than last year. More than 1,400 students in the total class of admitted students are first generation.
Students have responded enthusiastically to their offers of admission and, as with freshmen, Ogundele sees signs that a higher number of transfer students will accept their offers than expected. Preliminary data on transition enrollment will be available around the beginning of the fall semester.
For the first time in five years, new and transfer students were offered financial aid packages with expected loans and work under $US9,000 ($8,950) a year. Each year, campus financial aid officers strive to keep the loan and work expectations for students as low as possible. For the two previous academic years, it was $9,800 and $10,000, respectively.
In addition, the UC System launched a new Debt-Free Pathway program for the fall 2022 intake of new students as a first step toward a debt-free path for all UC students, part of a multi-year agreement between the governor and UC.
As part of this effort, UC Berkeley offered hundreds of students a loan-free financial aid package that included grants, scholarships, and work-study expectations. It was the first time that students were financially helped in this way. Those who received this package—5% of freshmen (776) and 6% of transfer students (329)—were the lowest-income students from some underfunded schools.
Freshman admissions decisions were announced for students on March 24. The relocation decisions were announced on April 22.
UC Berkeley admissions cards are available on this website. Note that some UC system charts may have data that differs from UC Berkeley’s data and may, for example, only show the population of California. Some UC Berkeley and UC data may not match because some UC charts may be limited to fall admissions only or may reflect a different time point for systemic UC data collection.