Cal State University to guarantee qualified students a spot under California budget deal

Students who qualify for admission with the California State University system but are turned away by one or more of its 23 campuses would be guaranteed a slot elsewhere under a proposed state budget.

The policy is similar to a guarantee offered by the University of California, which offers high school graduates who qualify for admission but are rejected a spot on another UC campus, typically UC Merced.

The CSU guarantee is part of the $125 billion budget agreed on by Gov. Jerry Brown and legislative leaders Tuesday. It heads next to the state Senate and Assembly on Thursday for approval and then would go back to Brown for his signature.

Cal State trustees would have until May to approve a policy that details how qualified students who were denied admission to one or more full campuses are redirected to those with room.

“We want to make sure every CSU-eligible student gets admitted to somewhere in the CSU system,” Assemblyman Phil Ting, D-San Francisco, said Wednesday. He is chairman of the Assembly’s Budget Committee.

CSU spokeswoman Toni Molle said officials need to “carefully evaluate all options to ensure the outcome is authentic access for current and prospective students. It’s important that any policy change leads to a better outcome.”

Last fall, 31,000 students who qualified to the CSU were denied admission because of a lack of space.

Maggie White, a CSU student trustee and the incoming president for the California State Student Association, said she’s excited to see the issue addressed but is concerned that legislators are pushing for a new policy “instead of more funding.”

“My big worry is that students who were planning to stay and live at home and stay with their families won’t be able to,” said White, who is getting a master’s degree at CSU Stanislaus and commutes from her family home in Modesto.

CSU, with some 479,000 students across its 23 campuses and eight off-campus centers, is the nation’s largest four-year public university system. The proposed 2017-18 budget includes an additional $20.5 million to enroll nearly 2,500 more students.

Also under the new budget, CSU trustees would refine a policy requiring campuses to provide admission priority to local students. Some campuses already give priority to students living nearby.

Cal State Fullerton, for example, where every degree program has more qualified applicants than available spaces, gives priority to incoming freshman who graduated from school districts in Orange County plus the Alvord, Chino Valley, Walnut, Corona-Norco and Whittier school districts. For incoming transfer students, CSUF gives priority to those who graduated from community colleges in Orange County.

Cal State Long Beach, which also has an abundance of applicants, guarantees admission to qualified Long Beach students through a program called the Long Beach Promise.