2009 Facts About the CSU

Students on campus


The CSU has a significant impact on the state through the personal contributions of current students and alumni. Its students largely come from California and remain in the state using their increased skills and knowledge to the benefit of California.

Where Do CSU Students Come From?

More than 97 percent of all enrolled students come from California. More than one-quarter of those are from Los Angeles County, with large numbers also coming from Orange (9 percent), San Diego (8 percent) and Santa Clara (6 percent) counties. The CSU draws students from across the nation to its 23 campuses.

New first-time freshmen come overwhelmingly (87 percent) from California public high schools, followed by California private high schools (12 percent).

New undergraduate transfers come largely from the California Community Colleges (84 percent), with about 5 percent each coming from the CSU and from other states.

The majority of new postbaccalaureate and graduate students are from the CSU (54 percent), followed by the University of California (16 percent), private institutions (7 percent) and out-of-state (13 percent), with the remainder from foreign or unknown sources.

Student Profile

CSU students are not necessarily the traditional 18- to 22-year-olds. The most recent survey found that:

  • The average undergraduate age is 24.
  • Only 8 percent live on campus.
  • Approximately 61 percent are dependent on parents.
  • About 12 percent are married.
  • Nearly one-quarter have dependents.
  • Three out of four have jobs, almost 18 percent work more than 30 hours per week.
  • Nearly 35 percent of the students are in the first generation in their family to attend college.
Giving Back to Communities

All 23 CSU campuses offer a variety of ways for students to make a difference through numerous community engagement activities, from community service clubs and organizations to service-learning courses and alternative break programs.

  • A 2007 CSU student survey revealed more than 194,000 students performed community service totaling 32 million hours of service annually. The economic impact of this service equates to $624 million.
  • CSU students participate in all types of service activities in more than 3,560 community sites annually, including “greening” communities, tutoring children and adults in English as a second language, working in hospitals and community health clinics, teaching computer literacy, cleaning up rivers and beaches, serving meals to the homeless, and building houses. Students from all academic majors have opportunities to connect service to their studies in more than 2,575 service-learning courses annually.
  • Sixteen CSU campuses were named to the 2008 President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll, which recognizes colleges and universities nationwide that support innovative and effective community service and service-learning programs.

More information about the Center for Community Engagement »


The CSU has more than 2 million alumni, exceeding the populations of every California city except Los Angeles. More than 200 alumni, including 39 legislators, work in the state capitol, while, nationally, the CSU boasts several CEOs among Fortune 500 companies.

CSU alumni are the engine of the state’s productivity and key to its future. One in 10 members of California’s workforce is a CSU graduate, and the majority of the state’s teachers are CSU alumni, including about half of the California State Teacher of the Year award recipients.

CSU graduates have distinguished themselves in every field, including arts and entertainment, business, education, journalism, public administration, the sciences, sports, and agriculture. CSU graduates are the core of California in virtually every field of endeavor.