CSU Bachelor's Degrees Recipients as a percentage of All California Public and Private University Bachelor's Recipients, 2006-07
Ethnicity Percentage
Asian/Pacific Islander 34%
African American 49%
Filipino 60%
Latino 56%
Native American 44%
White 44%

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Ensuring Access to Higher Education

Ensuring affordable access to higher education for all Californians is critical to the state’s future, especially during times of economic distress. A cornerstone of the CSU’s mission is educating all Californians, regardless of background. More than ever, the campuses reflect California’s changing population, offering curricula and programs that recognize the state’s diverse students. The CSU’s efforts in this arena are indicative of its core belief that education can dramatically change lives by opening new careers, unconsidered perspectives, novel avenues of discovery, and critical life skills.

Open to All Californians

Nearly half of all degrees granted in 2006-07 in California to people of color were earned at the CSU. As of 2006-07, 56 percent of all bachelor’s degrees granted to Latinos in California were CSU degrees. The numbers for other ethnic groups in the state were similar.  These traditionally underserved students compose 65 percent of California’s public school population yet often are in school districts where college preparatory courses are not required and pre-college advising is unavailable. It is incumbent upon the CSU to help prepare these students for college and graduate them into the state’s workforce. During the past 10 years, the CSU has taken significant steps to prepare these emerging populations for college and has formed partnerships and created innovative programs for African American, Latino, Asian, and Native American families.

A sampling of the CSU’s initiatives includes:

  • Super Sunday: The CSU partners with African American churches to underscore the need for early college preparation and readiness. The CSU’s leaders speak from the pulpit in February to reach families in communities throughout the state.

  • Parent Institute for Quality Education (PIQE): The CSU has partnered with PIQE, an organization that teaches primarily Latino parents how to help their children prepare for college and successfully navigate the public education system.

  • Troops to College: The CSU is leading a statewide program established to assist military men and women transition to college after exiting the service. The program includes academic outreach, admissions, and enrollment planning for the approximately 60,000 veterans exiting military service each year.

  • Early Assessment Program: The CSU created this nationally acclaimed program to help 11th graders determine their proficiency in college-level English and mathematics. The test results enable the students to identify the need for additional preparation in English and mathematics during the senior year so they enter the CSU fully prepared for college level coursework.

  • “How to Get to College” Poster: The CSU has distributed more than 3 million copies of this award-winning, multilingual poster, which serves as a roadmap for middle and high school students to prepare for college.

  • The Road to College Tour: Supported by a grant from AT&T, the CSU annually deploys a mobile “college on wheels” campaign to underserved students in communities throughout California.

  • The CSU recently joined with Univision and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to form a national media campaign titled Es El Momento (The Moment Is Now), a series of programs and announcements designed to promote college readiness among Latino families.

As a result of these efforts, minority enrollment at the CSU has improved for several groups.

CSU First-Time Freshman Enrollment by Ethnicity, Fall 2002 and 2008.
Ethnicity Fall 2008 Fall 2002
Pacific Islander 0.9% 0.6%
Nonresident Alien 2.1% 2.1%
Other Latino 8.1% 6.0%
Mexican American 21.9% 16.3%
Filipino 5.5% 5.5%
Asian American 11.3% 13.1%
American Indian 0.7% 0.7%
African American 7.0% 6.6%

CSU campuses reflect their communities and provide access to underserved populations more than ever before. Campuses across the CSU system have made accomplishments in opening their doors to students of color:

  • Cal Poly Pomona is among the top 10 schools in the nation in granting degrees to Hispanic, Asian American, and other minority students in agriculture, architecture, and engineering.

  • CSU Fullerton is ranked sixth in the nation in bachelor’s degrees awarded to minority students, according to Diverse Issues in Higher Education.

  • CSU Long Beach’s undergraduate programs in health have seen 9 percent growth in minority graduates over 2007. The programs rank fifth in the nation for minority graduates.

  • Six CSU campuses rank among the 15 colleges awarding the most bachelor’s degrees to Latino students each year, according to Hispanic Outlook magazine.

  • The CSU enrolls several thousand Native Americans, and campuses engage in programs designed to attract Native Americans and celebrate local tribal cultures. For example, Humboldt State sponsors American Indian College Motivation Day each year, bringing in about 200 high school students from 30 local schools to highlight higher education opportunities in Northern California. Humboldt, as well as other campuses, also offers curricula in studying tribal cultures and programs that promote Native American participation in education and the sciences. In 2006, CSU San Marcos signed a memorandum of understanding with the Santa Ysabel Band of Diegueño Indians to help prepare their youth for higher education.

The CSU also works to offer higher education to students with physical and mental disabilities. More than 10,000 disabled students are currently enrolled at CSU campuses. More than 95 percent of disabled students who enroll at the CSU graduate. Many of these students take advantage of campus services designed to help students pursue a college education, including campus-provided screen reader software, Braille embossers, note-takers, sign language interpreters, and infrastructure for the disabled.

CSU campuses also provide a wide range of services that ensure the admission, retention, and graduation of foster youth. Foster youth are provided direct contact with staff members, ongoing academic monitoring and intervention, opportunities to build relationships in a community setting, and connections to campus clubs and organizations. Offered in collaboration with student support offices and community services, these programs have proven successful.

The CSU is actively engaged in helping veterans, active-duty military personnel, and their dependents get an affordable education. The CSU offers numerous benefits to service personnel such as waiving of non-resident fees and the ability to use Department of Defense tuition assistance waivers at all campuses. Each CSU campus also has a veteran service representative to help military personnel take advantage of the university’s opportunities.

One of the most successful ways to promote access is by providing students opportunities to enter the CSU through multiple avenues. While about 18 percent of public high school students matriculate after graduating high school, other students transfer into the CSU most often out of California’s community colleges. Last year, about 42 percent of students entering the CSU were students who originally began their academic careers in community colleges, and 55 percent of last year’s CSU graduates have also earned an associate’s degree at a California community college.

The CSU is dedicated to offering programs that allow students to engage in lifelong learning. Approximately 20 percent of the CSU’s population is over the age of 30, and one-quarter of students are part-time. In addition, some campuses, such as CSU Fullerton, offer programs that waive fees in space-available courses for senior citizens.

Because life for many students has demands beyond the classroom, the CSU has many offices, services, and programs designed to help students take full advantage of their educational experience. These include:

  • Career centers;

  • Child care programs and facilities;

  • Evening and weekend courses;

  • Counseling and advising support;

  • Financial aid;

  • Student health centers;

  • Women’s centers;

  • Veterans’ offices.

Online and distance learning gives many students the flexibility they need to engage with the CSU, earning certificates and degrees in a variety of subjects at their own pace.

  • CSU Dominguez Hills offers the largest distance learning program in California, teaching courses for nine academic degrees and seven certificates, and broadcasting more than 20 hours of live, interactive programming each week on TV and the Internet.

  • CSU Chico’s satellite campus in Redding offers face-to-face courses in business, nursing, and education.

  • San José State, CSU Channel Islands, and CSU San Marcos have collaborated to offer online graduate and continuing education courses in biotechnology.

  • With 20 percent of its total enrollment in online courses and programs, CSU East Bay is expanding the reach of higher education to Californians and responding to the need for alternatives to conventional classroom teaching. The university offers seven degree programs online, as well as 40 certificate programs and 60 online courses, including 37 continuing education courses for new teachers.

Equally as important as early preparation and providing support services is ensuring that students persist to a degree once they reach the university. The CSU has launched a Graduation Initiative aimed at increasing six-year graduation rates by 8 percent by 2016, as well as cutting in half the existing gap in degree attainment by the CSU’s underrepresented students. This effort is boosted by the CSU’s recent adoption of an “Early Start” policy that focuses on improving student achievement in English and mathematics so students are prepared for college-level coursework and can make faster progress toward their degree.

Providing Affordable Education

As one of the most affordable public education systems in the nation, the CSU has long recognized that it is imperative to offer education to all Californians regardless of their financial means. By offering flexibility through financial aid, students who a generation ago would not have conceived of a college education for themselves, are now CSU graduates.

With the country in the midst of an economic downturn, providing affordable education has become more challenging—but also more critical than ever. State funding cuts have forced the CSU to find new ways to maintain quality, including raising student fees, cutting enrollment, freezing salaries, and tightening budgets.

Additionally, the CSU's in-state fees remain the second lowest among comparable institutions nationally, as indicated in the following chart. This aid, which includes loans, work study, and nearly $1 billion in grants, helps improve educational access for Californians. Additionally, the CSU’s in-state fees remain the second lowest among comparable institutions nationally.

Comparison Institution Academic-Year Resident Undergraduate Fee Levels, 2008-09 to 2009-10
Institution 2008-2009 2009-2010 Increase
University of Nevada at Reno $4,711 $145
California State University $3,849 $1,044
North Carolina State University $5,274 $200
University of Colorado at Denver $6,348 $194
State University of New York at Albany $6,087 $611
Arizona State University at Tempe $5,664 $1,182
Georgia State University at Atlanta $6,056 $1,242
Cleveland State University $7,920 $0
George Mason University (Fairfax, VA) $7,512 $512
Comparison Average $7,516 $538
University of Texas at Arlington $7,780 $406
University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee $7,905 $617
University of Maryland, Baltimore County $8,780 $92
Wayne State University (Detroit, MI) $8,751 $521
University of Connecticut (Storrs) $9,338 $548
Illinois State University (Normal, IL) $9,814 $717
Rutgers University (Newark, NJ) $10,800 $1,086