CSU Budget Office

Frequently Asked Questions: Academic Programs and Enrollment

Campus Specialization

How could regional specializations occur at the CSU? What steps are being taken to determine the feasibility of this option?
Further analysis of campus or regional specialization is needed to determine which programs should be moved, or consolidated, and to identify the steps needed to move academic programs with minimal disruption to currently enrolled students. Still to be determined are the cost savings to the university, as well as the ability of our students to attend a university out of their local area. This is not a short term cost savings measure.

CERF or Other Funds

Can CERF balances be used for CSU operating expenses?
Language in the enacted budget act grants authority to the Chancellor for an emergency transfer from the continuing education fund to the general fund in the event that the governor's tax initiative fails.

Cost of Instruction

Why has the funding devoted to the instructional program declined over the last few years, while funding devoted to other operations on the campuses has increased?
Funding for the instructional program has inevitably declined as a consequence of the massive reduction in state support, but so has spending in other areas. Some reports show a relatively low share of expenditure for instruction—such as the CSU's consolidated financial statement. However, the consolidated financial statement includes all funds, including areas where no instructional expenditure takes place such as parking, student housing and student financial aid. The inclusion of these areas "artificially" drives down the share shown for instruction. If one looks at the CSU Operating Fund—that is, the fund that includes state monies and tuition fee revenues—and if one excludes items like parking, housing and financial aid, it is evident that declines in instruction have not been disproportionate. In 2007-08, the percentage of CSU Operating Fund spent on instruction was 47.0%. In the 2010-11 fiscal year (the most recent year with completed expenditure data) it was 45.9%. Student services went from 11.5% in 2007-08 to 12.0% in 2010-11. Besides student services, the other major category with an increased share of spending is operations and maintenance of facilities (which includes utilities), going from 13.0% to 14.1%.

Department/Program Consolidation

What types of decisions are being made about the discontinuation of low enrollment programs? There are many valuable programs within the CSU that shouldn't be cut simply because of low enrollment when they provide very valuable training for high demand fields in the state.
CSU Policy requires that any discontinued programs teach out any students currently enrolled. There is a natural phasing out of 8-10 programs each year, systemwide. However, as a cost saving measure, each campus may begin to more closely examine high cost/low enrollment programs in addition to those that naturally phase out to determine their overall effectiveness and necessity to the mission of the campus. Program discontinuation is a long process that must go through various levels of campus governance including the academic senate. The ultimate savings is thus pushed out to future years when all currently enrolled students have graduated and dollars can then be redistributed to higher demand majors or departments.

Has any thought been given to how we can enhance centers (programs) of excellence? For example, how can we safeguard the quality of ranked programs (e.g., engineering labs)?
CSU's overriding goal is to protect the quality of all instructional areas leading to degree. Efforts to solicit suggestions for strategies that lead to cost reductions or revenue enhancements in response to the potential $1 billion drop in State funding to CSU since 2007 are made with this goal in mind. Preserving the quality of CSU programs that have received special recognition for academic excellence should be achieved within this broader context of preserving the quality of the entire academic community at CSU campuses.

Enrollment Management

What do you mean when you say a campus is over-enrolled?
When a campus has admitted more students than supported by the state allocation.

Has there been any movement to declare systemwide impaction to give campus flexibility in meeting targets?
AB 2402 eliminated systemwide impaction as a way to correct any unforeseen imbalance of student demand as expressed in the number of applications received. Campuses can no longer request impaction after the fact of receiving applications for any given term. There have been a number of conversations about modifying impaction to provide campuses flexibility in managing enrollment.  These discussions will likely result in an updates to CSU enrollment management policy and practice.

When a campus goes above their enrollment target, why are they penalized monetarily and for what does that money get used?
Campuses agree to various enrollment targets as a portion of our total target as a system to align finding to enrollment. This money is then re-allocated for various systemwide programs or initiatives.

Can we cut freshman 2013 class in half?
Freshman classes are getting smaller but a cut by 50% would be detrimental to the CSU and would leave thousands of qualified students without viable higher education options.

How will a significant enrollment reduction save money? What are the downsides of a steep reduction in enrollment?
Reductions in enrollment up to a certain level will save the university money by reducing the demand for classes, and other student services. Fewer students mean fewer course sections, thus reduced expenses on faculty salaries, and other student service staff. The CSU is held to an enrollment target by the state upon which our general fund allocation is based. When the CSU drops below this enrollment target by more than 1-2% we are required to return money to the state.

Why are some campuses instituting maximum unit loads per semester at 16 or 17 units? This doesn't allow for high unit majors to take as many classes as may be necessary in a given semester.
Campuses make various decisions to meet their enrollment targets which are based on 1 FTE at 15 quarter or semester units. Going forward, policies are being considered that would allow students to take more than 16 or 17 units, and be charged an additional fee for classes above a specific unit load. The third tier tuition option is meant to address this issue. In difficult budget times, campuses are forced to make difficult decisions to ensure that the majority of students can get at least 15 units of instruction if they so choose - creating unit enrollment limits can help a campus better schedule sections to meet student demand.

Why would the CSU ever be over its enrollment target when there is not enough money to go around?
Enrollment management is a top priority for the CSU and campuses are balancing the demand from students, with their ability to offer classes and provide the type of quality instruction our students deserve. As a system we do our best to meet our enrollment targets so that we do not over extend on limited resources while also being cautious to not under-enroll to an extent that we would be required to return part of our general fund allocation to the state.

General Education (GE) & Remediation

Can we reduce GE requirements and put the limited resources toward supporting majors? Or can we reduce requirements from 120 units to 116 units?
Our current graduation requirements are in line with conventional unit totals for a four-year degree earned in full-time study, must respond to professional and regional accreditation standards, and are set by Title 5 of the California Code of Regulations. CSU campuses are required to report annually to the board the minimum units required to complete each bachelor’s degree program. Programs that exceed 120 semester units are required to justify the overage and are encouraged to reduce units toward the 120 unit minimum. General education requirements are subject to ongoing review and are designed by the faculty. General education goals remain essential components of a CSU education.

If we have to further reduce enrollment, we should start with remedial Math & English students. They use an inordinate amount of academic and administrative resources. Remediation is a "cost prohibitive" process.
Providing math and English remediation to CSU eligible students continues to be part of the mission of the university. The CSU continually strives to reduce the amount of time and money spent remediating each individual student by providing the most focused and successful programs possible. The CSU is committed to giving all students an opportunity to succeed.

Online Courses

Does offering courses through Cal State Online save the CSU Money? If not, why are we investing in Cal State Online at all?
The primary benefit of offeringe courses online is accessibiity.

Will Cal State Online be used to make more classes available to students on any campus? Why are we spending money on Cal State Online receptions, etc? How does that help us offer the classes our students need?
The idea of making more classes available is under consideration. Attending and offering activities related to a program such as this is a normal cost of doing business.

How is Cal State Online being used as a way to cut costs, and give students more options to graduate sooner?
Cal State Online will increase student access to CSU programs by providing a central place for students to come to learn about online degree programs and a direct fully online pathway to a degree. The program, as conceived, was not intended to save costs although that might be one result when it is fully operational.


Will there be an assessment of the Early Start program to determine its cost-benefit?
The Early Start Program will be assessed after the first year has been completed. We will examine a number of variables including its effectiveness as an early remediation tool and the cost benefit of the program both to the university and the students involved.

Previously the CSU has tried to increase the number of doctorally prepared faculty, however these faculty typically don't teach a full load and spend some time on research and scholarly work. Would it make more sense at the CSU to maintain a healthy number of faculty whose primary role is to teach?
CSU has historically held to the perspective that CSU tenured and probationary faculty have teaching, research, and service responsibilities and that all three components make for a vibrant university community for students.  Lecturers with a variety of skills, knowledge and experiences add to the rich mix of learning opportunities for students and collegiality within the academy.

Time to Graduation

What consideration is being given to ensure that students can graduate in a timely manner without accruing excessive debt because classes aren't always available? Will the committee consider working with other campuses to help students graduate in a timely manner?
Course scheduling is done on each campus individually and takes into account student enrollment patterns to meet the needs of students from undergraduate and credential students, to graduate students in all fields. Plans are being developed by Cal State Online to offer online courses that could help students meet graduation requirements when particular courses are not offered in given semester on their campus.