SAN JOSE (KCBS) – Local students have been guaranteed admissions to San Jose State for more than 150 years, but that is now changing.

At a morning news conference on campus, university president Mohammad Qayoumi said steep state budget cuts are the reason for the school’s new approach, in which local applicants not admitted to their preferred majors will be eligible for—but no longer guaranteed—admission as undeclared students.

University officials explained that all students applying to SJSU are required to note their first- and second-choice majors. Those who aren’t accepted to those majors are bumped to the “undeclared” category.

The school will still have a “local area preference” policy in place, in which local applicants being considered as undeclared majors will have a lower admissions threshold than applicants from other areas, university officials said.

KCBS’ Mike Colgan Reports:

”We’re looking to make sure they’re CSU-eligible, and we’re looking for them to have a GPA above 2.0, which is the minimum to be CSU-eligible,” said Qayoumi. “But now as we look at the impaction, depending on the particular program, it could be 2.3 or 2.4 or whatever.”

Qayoumi said the situation is being exacerbated by elected officials in Sacramento who have failed to adequately fund higher education.

”I think this is a very sad situation, and I take it very personally because if I look at my own situation, and my own life, the only reason I’m here at San Jose State, and not working in a construction site in Afghanistan, is because I had the opportunity to go to college,” said Qayoumi.

The university will also be focusing on moving students who are already enrolled toward graduation more efficiently to make room for incoming students.

The school’s new admissions guidelines, which were crafted after a number of public hearings, will be submitted to California State University Chancellor Charles Reed for approval.

School officials said the new policy will “provide SJSU with tools to reduce enrollment,” but noted that the change will not necessarily be permanent.

Had the policy been in effect for the fall of 2012, 1,400 local students who were accepted to the university would not have been admitted, said William Nance, the university’s vice president of student affairs.

University spokeswoman Pat Lopes Harris said the school receives increasing numbers of applicants each year, and said the new policy is like “putting a spigot on a faucet.”

Though Qayoumi doesn’t know how many students will be impacted, he suspected it will be around 15,000. San Jose State University enrolls about 30,000 students.

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