I got a letter during the second semester of my junior year saying that if I were to maintain my academic performance, I would qualify for the Eligibility in the Local Context program for the UCs. I was wondering if this would actually boost my chance of being admitted to the campuses I apply to, since I would most likely attend a UC anyways.
Congratulations for qualifying. It does identify you as a top applicant. If you maintain that status, you are a more competitive applicant for the UCs, probably any school if your test scores are also up there.
From what I understand, it used to be that this ELC did give you enhanced chances at your local UC but, no more. For the more competitive UCs, it does not confer any added advantage and no guarantees. What it does do is offer you a spot at UCs to which you did not apply if you are not accepted to those you did choose, if there are any spots available.
I’m not as familiar with the CA system as those who have dealt with it though I am learning as family members are applying to the UCs and Cal States in the near future. Please look up what ELC and make sure you are getting current information. Ask your GC if any new developments have arisen in this regard.
ELC means that if you do not get into any UCs that you apply to, you get admitted to one with space available, if there is any. UC Merced historically has been that campus.
CSUs have local area preferences (that vary from one campus to another), but the UCs do not.
ELC is a consideration in the UC application review but I have known non-ELC applicants that have gotten UC acceptances. As stated in the above post by @ucbalumnus it only guarantees that if you are not accepted into your choice UC, then the default campus UC Merced will offer you a spot if space is available.