Students who qualify for admission to California State University will soon get an acceptance letter from at least one of the system’s 23 campuses.
Until now, that hasn’t been the case. Around 30,000 students who meet all the requirements have been denied admission each year because the campuses they want to attend are full.
“The most important thing is this gives California’s students more options,” said Assembly Budget Chair Phil Ting, D-San Francisco.
Under the state’s new budget deal, qualified California students who don’t get into their campus of choice will be admitted to another campus with space. The change is modeled after the University of California’s policy. UC promises admission to students who rank in the top 9 percent of graduates in the state.
“CSU could be doing the same thing,” Ting said. “They just haven’t.”
The assemblyman acknowledged funding constraints present a challenge, but said the newest budget includes more money for CSU to enroll more students. CSU has until next May to come up with a policy.
“We will engage faculty and administrative leadership to determine how we can best move forward to implement these directives that are intended to better serve Californians,” CSU Chancellor Timothy White said in a statement Monday morning.
As a baseline, CSU requires California residents to have at least a 3.0 GPA. Students with lower GPAs are still eligible if they earn certain scores on the SAT or ACT, which vary depending on the GPA. Yet some campuses effectively have higher thresholds.
San Jose State, for instance, already receives more applications than it can accommodate. While the school already refers qualified transfer applicants to other campuses, it does not yet do the same for freshmen applicants. That will have to change under the new policy.
Cal State East Bay is not at capacity yet, so it could potentially receive some of those students.
“For Cal State East Bay, this is a positive thing and something we already do,” said Kimberly Hawkins, a spokeswoman for that campus.
The campus recently adopted a new plan that will guarantee admission to qualified students from six Bay Area counties starting in Fall 2018.
The CSU policy shift comes as the system, which enrolls nearly 480,000 students, is trying to increase graduation rates. Right now, only about 21 percent of CSU’s students earn a degree in four years, a figure officials want to raise to 40 percent by 2025. The newest budget includes an additional $12.5 million to support that effort.
It’s unclear just how many students will actually be impacted. Some students have family obligations or jobs that make moving to a different part of the state for school challenging. Of the 9,000 or so qualified applicants UC sends to Merced, the only campus in the system with space, fewer than 300 choose to enroll. There isn’t good data on where CSU applicants who are qualified but currently denied admission go.
Maggie White, the incoming president of the California State Student Association, thinks the new policy is a step in the right direction, but no cure-all for more funding that would help all campuses create more space for students. “If you live in Los Angeles and you plan on commuting and you’re admitted to Humboldt,” she said, “is that really a viable option?”
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