The surge was credited to out-of-state applicants, which increased to 33,000 from about 21,000 last year, and a new admissions policy that eliminated SAT subject exam requirements.
However, the University noted that it will not have the ability to accommodate demand without more state funding.
"Students will have a harder time being admitted to their campus of choice," said Kate Jeffery, UC's interim director of undergraduate admissions.
There was a 4 percent drop in transfer students applying to UC campuses. This may reflect the difficulty community college students are having in getting the classes they need to transfer, Jeffery said.
UC campuses will begin notifying applicants about their admission decisions in March.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.