CSU reaches record-high enrollment, graduation rates across system

The California State University system has reached an all-time enrollment high with 485,549 students enrolled across all 23 campuses for the fall 2020 semester, CSU officials announced Monday. The system also announced Friday it has reached record-high graduation rates under the Graduation Initiative 2025

According to the office of the chancellor, this is an increase of 3,600 students compared to fall of 2019, which had a collective enrollment of 481,929. This current enrollment surpasses the previous record of 484,297 in fall of 2017. 

Illustration by Julia Terbeche

“The record enrollment of 485,649 students reflects the confidence that state residents have in the California State University,” Chancellor Timothy P. White said in a statement. “I commend the creativity and hard work of our faculty and staff who implemented innovative ways to carry on our tradition of inclusive academic excellence, despite the current pandemic and necessary transition to virtual instruction. Their efforts enabled us to welcome our new students and to connect and engage with all students like never before.”

The CSU also reached a record-high retention rate for first-year students with 85.5% of students continuing their education at the same campus across all the 23-university system. 

This contrasts the downward trend of undergraduate enrollment currently at a 4% decrease across the U.S., specifically a 1.4% decrease at public four-year universities, according to the statement. 

Several CSU campuses recorded all-time high enrollment for the fall 2020 semester, including Long Beach State, California State University, Fresno, California State University, Sacramento and California State University, Bakersfield. 

The CSU’s Graduation Initiative 2025 has led to the four-year graduation rate for first-time students increasing to 31% compared to last year, and the six-year graduation rate for first-time students remained at 62%. 

The CSU implemented a goal to increase the two-year graduation rate for transfer students to 45% by 2025 and nearly achieved this goal already with an increase to 44% in 2020. 

“The record achievements of CSU students is a testament to their persistence and flexibility in navigating the pivot to virtual instruction and support made necessary by the ongoing pandemic,” White said. “It is also a reflection of the hard work and dedication of our faculty and staff who overcame unp​recedented challenges to advance the university’s mission.”

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