Federal Relations


Download a printable fact sheet (.pdf) on preserving Pell.

The Pell Grant is the foundation of federal student aid, providing opportunity to millions of students who might otherwise be unable to attend college. The vast majority of Pell recipients come from families with incomes at or below $30,000. Over 201,000 CSU students receive Pell Grants, with an average grant of nearly $4,250.

Broad Access: With 23 campuses and approximately 460,000 students, the California State University is the largest bachelor and graduate degree university in the world. More than one-third of CSU students are in the first generation in their family to attend college. The CSU also provides more than half of all bachelor’s degrees granted to California’s Hispanic, African American, and Native American students - and is a leader in transitioning veterans to the civilian workforce.

Job-Ready Graduates: The CSU awards over 100,000 degrees per year. CSU students’ starting and mid-career salaries are higher than national averages. The CSU provides California with the bulk of bachelor’s degrees in high-demand fields, such as agriculture (82%); business and professional services (54%); criminal justice (80%); engineering (49%); nursing (49%); and life sciences (41%).

Low tuition, low debt: Average annual tuition and campus fees at the CSU for a full-time undergraduate from California is $6,759. CSU students’ loan debt upon graduation is significantly less than the national average. 48 percent of CSU students carry any student loan debt at graduation (compared to 69 percent nationally), at an average of approximately $15,650 (compared to $28,400 nationally).

State Aid: The state of California and CSU institutions provide need-based aid totaling over $1.1 billion to more than 234,000 CSU students.

Significant need remains: Nearly 3 out of 4 CSU students have jobs, and almost 18% work more than 30 hours per week. Even with jobs and state aid, many CSU students require additional assistance.

Results: In 2012-13, almost half (nearly 40,000) of CSU bachelor’s degrees awarded were to Pell Grant recipients.

CSU Priorities for 2015: The CSU is committed to substantially increasing student success. The system’s recently announced Graduation Initiative 2025 aims to boost CSU bachelor’s degrees earned by 100,000 over the next decade relative to current graduation rates. The initiative sets specific goals for improved completion rates for first-time freshmen, transfer students, and historically underrepresented and low-income students. Investments in Pell and other federal aid programs are critical to meeting this goal.

CSU Pell Grant Program priorities for FY 2016
  • Support cost of living increases in maximum Pell Grant
  • Ensure that any Pell Grant program savings stay in the program for use in future years
  • Support restoration of a "year-round" Pell program in a manner that will assist low-income students, including non-traditional students, to accelerate academic progress
Additional CSU Student Aid Priorities for FY 2016
  • Invest in the Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (SEOG) program, which helps almost 22,000 CSU students with the greatest need purchase items like books and supplies
  • Bolster Work-Study funding, which currently aids 7,100 CSU students
  • Reform the federal funding formula for these important programs to better target scarce funds to needy students at campuses serving large numbers of low-income individuals