Admission to one of the UC’s nine undergraduate campuses proved more difficult this year, according to statistics released by the University of California Office of the President yesterday.

Due mainly to budgetary constraints, the percentage of California applicants offered freshman admission to at least one UC for the 2009-10 academic year fell by nearly 3 percent. Of the 80,820 California residents who applied for freshman admission to a campus this year, 72.5 percent were offered a spot, compared to 75.4 last year.

At UCSB, 44,692 high school seniors applied and a total of 21,557 individuals were offered admission for Fall 2009. UCSB’s applicant pool this year was the second largest ever, officials said.

Officials estimate that 300 fewer individuals will enroll next year, but despite the reduction, Chancellor Henry T. Yang said the campus’ population will not change.

“We expect to enroll 4,100 [for Fall 2009], so that our total campus student population will remain at 20,000, the same level as previous years,” Yang said in an e-mail.

Like other campuses, UCSB is cutting back on the number of California freshmen it will accept – this year, only 19,630 were offered admission compared to 21,367 in 2008. Overall, UCSB accepted 48.4 of California applicants, down from 49.7 percent last year.

Admissions Director Christine Van Gieson said that in spite of the drop in the percentage of students admitted, this year’s statistics were in line with the university’s expectations.

“We are continuing the trends that we have been seeing over the past couple of years,” Van Gieson said. “We are getting increasingly strong students academically and also admitting a very diverse class.”

According to the Admissions Office, the average high school grade point average of applicants admitted was above 4.0, and more than half of all admitted applicants are members of a racial or ethnic minority group, a 1.9 percent increase from last year.

Despite the size of UCSB’s applicant pool, a considerable number of UC-eligible students were denied access to the university as a result of the quotas placed on admissions by the recent state budget crisis. Van Gieson said that the university was deeply concerned with the amount of UC-eligible students who did not receive admission to the UC-system.

“This year, over 10,000 UC-eligible California students did not receive admission to one of their campus choices,” Van Gieson said. “That’s a very large number, and we’ve been hearing from a lot of them. They are going to be given an admission offer to UC Riverside and UC Merced. I think it’s great that we can offer that, but it’s not necessarily what they would want. Ten thousand students is a lot of disappointed people.”

In addition to the rising number of applicants UC-wide, admissions statistics indicated a rise in students from low-income families at UCSB, from 35.8 percent in 2008 to 36.4 percent. Financial Aid Director Ron Andrade said that the UCSB Financial Aid office does not expect the increase in low-income students admitted to have a significant impact on the campus’ aid resources.

“You have to realize that the University of California system has a fairly significant financial aid program,” Andrade said. “If you look at our financial aid population – those students with incomes of $60,000 and less – the majority have already received what takes to cover full fees anyway. Eventually, when we start looking at students who need additional funding, we don’t anticipate that there will be many more students who need additional aid.”

Applications from 10,085 students seeking to transfer to UCSB are still under review, with decisions to be announced by the end of April. Although still being considered, transfer applications to UCSB this year were up 1,239 over last year, an increase of 14 percent.