The University of California Board of Regents is threatening to curtail freshmen enrollment next fall if $815 million in requested funding is denied by the state.

Yesterday, at the Board of Regents Meeting in San Francisco, the Committee on Finance put forth a motion asserting that if $815 million in new funding is not approved by the state, the UC will be forced to compensate by curbing freshman enrollment. Although the committee did not specify how freshman admissions would be affected, the full Board of Regents will discuss the matter in further detail today.

The 2009-10 operating budget, a document the Regents deemed “a statement of need,” requests the millions in additional funding to compensate for increased student enrollment, academic needs, faculty and staff salaries and retirement contributions. If denied the requested funding, the regents say the university’s current standards of quality will decline.

In an opening address to the board, UC President Mark G. Yudof said it was essential that the University communicate to elected officials that the institution could no longer continue to operate at full capacity on such sparse funding.

“The situation we face is serious, and some very tough choices are ahead of us,” Yudof said at the meeting. “We need to preserve access and affordability to the greatest extent possible. We also need to ensure that we’re providing students access to an education of the high quality they expect of UC. And we can’t leave the state with the impression that we can continue doing more and more with fewer and fewer resources.”

According to the University of California Office of the President, the UC’s budget has shrunk $60 million dollars from the previous year. Meanwhile the university currently spends $120 million dollars out-of-pocket enrolling 10,000 students the state fails to account for.

At the committee meeting, Lieutenant Governor John Garamendi said the purpose of the operating budget is to demonstrate the necessity of renewed investment in the UC system and to avoid shifting the burden to students.

“What we have to do as Regents is clearly state to the public, the legislature and the Governor what it takes to run this institution, Garamendi said. “…I think it would be a serious error to place a tax on students rather than tell the legislature and the public the [budget] this institution needs to maintain academic quality.”

While the board put off addressing student fee hikes until the governor releases the proposed budget this Jan., the 2009-10 operating budget assumes a 9.4 percent increase in mandatory system wide student fees.

If the likely fee hike is approved this winter, the UC says it would remain committed to providing financial aid to students in need by allocating one third of the total fee increase revenue to financial aid grants.

Yudof said the Board of Regents must aggressively communicate the necessity of continued funding in order to preserve the character of the UC.

“We need to forcefully articulate what it takes to keep the University of California great,” Yudof said. “This is an honest statement of what it takes to sustain quality.”

Since only members of the Committee on Finance approved the 2009-10 operating budget, the full board will take action on the proposal as well as the future of freshmen enrollment at tomorrow’s session.