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Graduation Initiative 2025: $75 Million

As it enters its sixth year, Graduation Initiative 2025 is well on its way to meeting many of its bold systemwide goals with the highest graduation rates for first-time and transfer students since the initiative launched. Yet, the CSU is committed to doing more, which means ensuring that all students, regardless of background, have the opportunity to receive a high-quality education and earn a CSU degree. The CSU expects to invest $75 million of the 2022-23 operating budget request to meet these ambitious goals. To that end, Chancellor Castro convened a new advisory committee for Graduation Initiative 2025 with an expressed goal to identify new and creative ways to address disparities in graduation rates and accelerate the elimination of equity gaps. The committee, comprised of CSU administrators, faculty, staff and students, issued a set of recommendations that included enhancements in student advising, expanding data sharing and increasing transparency across campuses.

Graduation Rates Continue to Climb

Based on preliminary 2021 data, four- and six-year graduation rates for first-time students and two- and four-year rates for transfer students continue to improve and have reached all-time highs. These increases are remarkable given the challenges of the pandemic and represent the commitment of CSU faculty and staff and the intentional action by campus leaders for a laser focus on student success.

  • Every year, more and more students graduate from the CSU and enter the workforce. Since 2015, the number of students who annually earn a baccalaureate degree has increased by nearly 25,000.
  • The systemwide four-year graduation rate increased two percentage points to 33 percent from the previous year and 14 percentage points since 2015.
  • The systemwide six-year graduation rate increased one percentage point to 63 percent, continuing to exceed the national average for public four-year universities.
  • The CSU is on track overall to meet its systemwide graduation rate goals by 2025.

Table 4: CSU Systemwide Graduation Initiative Progress

​CSU Systemwide Graduation Initiative 2025 Progress​​
GRADUATION RATES2016
​2017
​2018
​2019
2020
2021
​​2025 Goal
First-time Students
4-Year21%
23%25%​27%
31%​33%​​​40%
 
6-Year59%
59%61%​62%
62%​63%70%
Transfer Students
2-Year33%
35%38%
​40%
44%​44%45%
 
4-Year74%
75%77%​77%
79%​80%85%
EQUITY GAPS (in percentage points)
Underserved Students of Color 
12.0
12.2
10.5
​11.1
10.5​12.4
0.0
Pell Grant Recipients​
 
10.0
10.6
9.5
​10.2
​9.2
​10.2
​0.0

Focus on Eliminating Equity Gaps

The CSU is redoubling student success efforts with a more intentional focus on eliminating equity gaps. Informed by recommendations of the Graduation Initiative 2025 Advisory Committee, Chancellor Castro announced an action plan with the expressed goal to support students most in need–including students of color, first-generation and Pell Grant recipients. The plan’s five priorities are:

  • Advance systemwide campus campaigns to re-engage and re-enroll underserved students;
  • Expand credit earning opportunities with summer and intercession sessions funding;
  • Ensure equitable access to digital degree planners/roadmaps;
  • Eliminate administrative barriers to graduation; and
  • Promote equitable learning practices and reduce DFW (D, F, Withdrawal) rates.

Additional state funding for Graduation Initiative 2025 is critical to maintain this momentum. These new investments will be used to offer more courses, hire additional tenure-track faculty and to advance innovative student success practices. Specifically, campuses will focus on addressing the five equity priorities within the framework of the six operational pillars:

  • Academic Preparation
  • Enrollment Management
  • Student Engagement and Well-Being
  • Financial Support
  • Data-Informed Decision-Making
  • Administrative Barriers

Increased state funding will allow campuses to accelerate existing Graduation Initiative 2025 efforts and scale programs that have demonstrated success to ensure all California students have the opportunity to earn a degree. More information about specific systemwide and campus priorities can be found at calstate.edu/csu-system/why-the-csu-matters/graduation-initiative-2025​.