While the University of California saw applicants for Fall 2009 surge to record-high numbers, UCSB received 1,000 fewer applications this year, a decline that may be a product of the ailing California economy.

Although UCSB received 2,352 fewer freshmen applications for the upcoming year, the number of transfer students seeking entry to UCSB increased by 1,239 from the previous year. The 54,758 total combined applicants for Fall ’09 falls 1,113 short of last year’s number.

Christine Van Gieson, UCSB’s director of admissions, said the drop in overall applications makes sense in light of the current state of the economy.

“Initially, we were a little surprised,” Van Gieson said. “But in looking more closely at the pool of applicants, we feel largely that its due to the economic trouble California – and the whole country – is in.”

As the economy takes its toll on public institutions, Van Gieson said, students may not find it feasible to enroll at UCSB. Some students, she said, may be choosing to stay close to home and enroll in less expensive community colleges, as a preventative measure against financial burden.

UCSB was one of four campuses in the UC system to experience a decline in applications from prospective freshmen students this year – UC Santa Cruz, UC Merced and UC San Diego also witnessed drops in applications for the fall 2009 quarter.

Transfer student applications, on the other hand, jumped at every UC campus this year, increasing an average of 11.2 percent systemwide. UCSB’s transfer applicants topped the UC average this year, with a 14 percent increase.

On a high note, Van Gieson said, while prospective students from middle-income backgrounds showed the most significant decrease in applicants, students from low-income backgrounds and traditionally underrepresented minorities actually filed more applications than the previous year.

UCSB garnered a total of 12,143 freshman applications from African-American, American-Indian and Chicano and Latino applicants this year – 187 more applications than the school received from minority groups last year.

This, Van Gieson said, was a hefty achievement for the campus.

“Its great news that sort of goes against the tides,” Van Gieson said. “We’ve been working with a lot of those populations, encouraging them to come to campus. The increase in minorities we saw last year is being sustained this year. … The fact that we actually didn’t drop in these areas is the result of years of work.”