Graduation Initiative 2025: Equitable Student Outcomes: $55 Million

As it enters its seventh 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 launch of the initiative. Still, the CSU is committed to doing more, which means ensuring that all students, regardless of background, can receive a high-quality education and earn a CSU degree. Since 2015-16, the CSU has dedicated an estimated $420 million of ongoing funding to the initiative. The CSU expects to invest $55 million more through the 2023-24 operating budget request to meet these ambitious goals.

Graduation Initiative 2025 reflects the CSU's commitment to not only improve student success but to advance equity. To that end, in 2021, the CSU redoubled its efforts to support equitable student outcomes by developing a targeted equity action plan through consultation with the advisory committee. Within the newly defined equity priorities, the CSU has established goals and metrics for supporting equitable student outcomes.

Campus teams and system leaders have shown exceptional collaboration and creativity in addressing this critically important systemwide goal. The additional $55 million investment will support the Graduation Initiative goals by advancing these priorities. The equity priorities website contains updates on systemwide progress and showcases some of the initial best practices and success stories emerging from the action plan. The website will be updated frequently on CSU efforts in the identified priority areas:

Reengage and Reenroll Underserved Students

Reflecting a nationwide trend exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, student retention decreased disproportionately among historically underserved students. Efforts are focusing specifically on reengaging with students of color, Pell grant recipients, and first-generation students to support their reenrollment to the CSU and meet their academic goals. Targeted systemwide and campus reenrollment campaigns have begun for spring, summer, and fall 2022 terms. These efforts will continue over the next three years with the goal to identify and implement effective outreach to students who left the CSU before earning a degree. Each CSU campus is charged to leverage all available resources and strategies, including leading change management initiatives and re-imagining reenrollment processes and academic policies as well as addressing administrative barriers.

Expand Credit-Earning Opportunities

Summer sessions and intersessions provide an opportunity to gain more academic credits. This is particularly important for students of color and first-generation students who may have had fewer opportunities to earn academic credits. Additional funding will support students falling behind in academic credits and help facilitate timely degree completion.

Access to a Digital Degree Planner

Digital degree planners, or roadmaps, help students navigate the registration process, select core courses, and keep them on track for timely graduation. The CSU is committed to making a digital degree planner available to all students.

Eliminate Administrative Barriers to Graduation

Administrative barriers disproportionately impact underserved students who are often more susceptible to academic disruptions, such as fee assessments, registration holds, and cumbersome processes. Campuses are reviewing practices to eliminate barriers to timely graduation.

Promote Equitable Learning and Reduce DFW Rates

Earning a nonpassing grade negatively impacts a student's academic trajectory. Without compromising academic rigor, the CSU is addressing equitable learning practices for classes with persistent high failure rates (such as D, F or withdrawal) and providing opportunities for additional learning when needed.

Ensuring that every Californian ​has an equal opportunity to earn the life-long, life-transforming benefits of a CSU degree

Graduation Rates Continue to Climb

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 notable because of the commitment of CSU faculty, staff, and other campus leaders to student success despite the challenges of the pandemic.

  • 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.

Additional state funding for Graduation Initiative 2025 is critical to maintain this momentum. These new investments will be used to advance innovative student success practices. Specifically, campuses will focus on addressing a number of equity priorities within the framework of the six operational pillars of the Graduation Initiative:

  • 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, support equitable student outcomes, 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 the Graduation Initiative 2025 website.

Table 4: CSU Systemwide Graduation Initiative Progress

CSU Systemwide Graduation Initiative 2025 Progress

2025 Goal
First-time Students
Transfer Students
EQUITY GAPS (in percentage points)
Underserved Students of Color 
Pell Grant Recipients