For a sixth straight year, the number of applications flowing into California State University (CSU) system campuses beat out the previous year’s total, ballooning to over 790,000 for the school year that starts in Fall 2015.
The number represents an increase of nearly 30,000 applicants from last year for the 23-campus system. Cal State Long Beach, the flagship school of the CSU system and consistently one of the most applied to campuses in the country, received 56,886 first-time freshman applications for the Fall 2015 semester. San Diego State University narrowly beat out Long Beach receiving 57,799. However, when adding the number of transfer students, Long Beach outpaced the San Diego campus 83,415 to 80,606.
CSU Chancellor Timothy P. White said the steady upward trend of applicants is a reflection of the quality education that each campus in the CSU offers to students.
“The fact that the CSU is the university of choice year-after-year among California’s high school graduates and transfer students demonstrates the power of our campuses to provide a transformative education,” White said in a statement. “Through innovative programs, services and opportunities, the CSU gives students the tools they need to succeed in an ever-changing workforce.”
The number of applicants includes first-time freshman (552,642) and transfer students (238,258) that submitted applications during the priority period that closed November 30.The 790,900 applications were submitted by 290,473 prospective students with applicants who applied to multiple campuses counting as “duplicate applicants”. The growth is a 3.9 percent spike from last year. California students represent about 96 percent of those vying for a spot at a CSU campus, something that the CSU says “continues to reflect the mission of the CSU” which is to serve high school graduates and transfer students from the state.
Mike Uhlenkamp, director of public affairs for the CSU said that the increase in applicants can be attributed to many things. First, families and students are becoming more aware of benefits of a college education like increased earning power. The fact that programs like the Long Beach College Promise and similar structures throughout the state help California students get to college and make it more enticing for them to attend school at home.
“One of the things that Long Beach has specifically is the Long Beach Promise which gets students from K-12 on to Long Beach City College then on to Long Beach State and there are programs like that that exist in San Diego and San Francisco as well,” Uhlenkamp said.
Cost, always a factor when deciding which college to attend,also benefits the CSU system. The average cost for a student to live off campus and attend a school in the University of California system is $29,200 according to the UC admissions website. Compared to the CSU average that falls just short of $5,500 annually, the flood of applicants has become an economic decision as much as an educational one.
“By any measure, not only within the state of California, but outside the state, the annual tuition rate of $5,472 is among the lowest in the nation,” Uhlenkamp said of CSU tuition rates that have remained unchanged for three years. “So it’s always going to be a bargain for the quality of education that you’re receiving.”
However, despite the increased growth across the board at the CSU, state funding still limits the capacity levels that each campus can set. A recent proposal by Governor Jerry Brown would induce a multi-year funding plan that would allow the CSU to allow for a one percent net enrollment growth which would include first-time freshmen, transfer students and returning students. The CSU has pushed for additional revenue that would allow for a 3 percent enrollment increase (about 12,000 additional students) for the 2015-2016 school year.
Uhlenkamp explained this money wouldn’t just benefit the CSU, it would benefit the state.
“The funding that we ask for isn’t an investment in the CSU, it’s an investment in the state of California,” Uhlenkamp said. “You’re investing in programs and quality and then students are then graduating and going back out into the workforce and contributing to the state economy. So all of those dollars that we’re seeking aren’t just investments in the CSU but they’re really for the state of California.”