In every industry, California thrives on a workforce based in a range of backgrounds and perspectives. To that end, the CSU has a long tradition of providing access to higher education to Californians from different ethnic, socioeconomic, and educational backgrounds, making it the most diverse university system in the country. Over the last 10 years, the CSU has significantly enhanced its academic preparation and outreach efforts to underserved communities through a variety of programs and partnerships with the goal of increasing college readiness for K-12 students. Equally as important, the CSU is also focusing on helping students succeed and persist to a degree once they reach the university and has recently launched a Graduation Initiative aimed increasing the graduation rate and halving the achievement gap of underrepresented students.
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.
The CSU has also continued efforts to offer a university education to disabled students. More than 10,000 disabled students are currently enrolled at the CSU, and more than 95 percent graduate. This success rate is in part due to the wide range of services provided to assist disabled students.
CSU campuses also provide comprehensive 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.
The CSU works to welcome students who enter college from community college or non-traditional avenues. In fall 2008, about 42 percent of students entering the CSU began their academic careers in community college. This is coupled with the CSU’s programs that allow students to engage in learning later in life. Approximately 1 in 5 CSU students is older than 30, and one-quarter of students attend the CSU part-time. Programs and services like child care, veteran’s offices, financial aid, and counseling and advising support help students successfully engage while in college.
Numerous online and distance learning programs also allow access to the CSU for students who otherwise may not have the opportunity. In addition, the CSU Extended Education units on every campus address the educational and training needs of California’s workforce. Individuals can pursue degrees, take classes, complete credentials, earn certificates and explore professional and career development opportunities. Extended Education partners with business and industry to design and deliver high-quality programs that enable people to excel in a competitive environment.
Beyond the wealth of programs designed to promote access to higher education, the CSU remains one of the most affordable public education systems in the nation. With federal and state aid, loans, and scholarships, students have many options to help them afford a college education. While state funding cuts have forced the CSU to find new ways to maintain quality, including raising fees, the CSU’s in-state fees remain the second lowest among comparable institutions nationally.
In addition, about one-third of revenues from increased fees help bolster financial aid. In 2008, the CSU awarded more than $2 billion in financial aid, including loans, work study. and grants, helping to maintain its legacy as a uniquely affordable option for higher education. More than 250,000, or 54 percent, of CSU students received some form of aid in 2008.
California faces a complex web of challenges in the 21st century, including growing a nimble economy founded on agriculture and propelled by innovative technologies, while also providing essential social services to a broad array of citizens. In this environment, a large, dynamic workforce of job-ready university graduates is essential.
The CSU is by far the state’s largest and most affordable educator of California’s workforce. No other California university provides as many well-prepared graduates for knowledge-based industries. At the same time, the CSU’s education of public professionals in criminal justice, education, and public administration lays the foundation for future economic growth and protects citizens in need.