The CSU aims for steady and strategic increases in enrollment to meet student demand for a CSU education and to ensure a solid foundation for California's economy with a well-educated, degree-holding workforce. Aligned with the state's expectations in the multiyear compact, the CSU plans to increase resident undergraduate enrollment by one percent or 3,434 full-time equivalent students (FTES) for 2023-24. Using the marginal cost rate, which is the cost of education per FTES, the funding required to support these new students is $50.6 million.
As was done in 2022-23, it is the CSU's intent to place new enrollment strategically at campuses that are experiencing significant prospective student demand and can expand more seats in academic programs that support high-demand career fields in California.
In 2015, the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC) concluded that the state would fall about 1.1 million college graduates short of economic demand by 2030. Of the 1.1 million-degree gap, the PPIC calculated the CSU would need to graduate an additional 480,000 students to meet its share of the state’s need. The CSU’s commitment to Graduation Initiative 2025 will help meet workforce demand by increasing access and completion outcomes, but the other part of the equation necessary to shrink the gap is funded enrollment increases each year over the next several years. The multiyear compact includes a commitment by the CSU to grow resident undergraduate enrollment by one percent each year so that by 2026-27 CSU’s enrollment will grow by approximately 14,000 FTES.
For decades, California has encouraged generations of young Californians to pursue higher education, and during that time, the CSU has been a beacon of access to that opportunity. For many years now, the CSU has educated many more students than expected–approximately 76,000 more students over the past five years (cumulative) beyond the funded enrollment targets agreed to by the CSU and the state.
Higher education enrollment declined across the country during the pandemic, but CSU campuses collectively fared better than other institutions. The 2021-22 academic year ended with actual resident enrollment tracking very closely to the resident enrollment target. As the state exits the pandemic, CSU campuses have returned to in person outreach and recruitment efforts, but challenges do exist with the national sentiment about the value of a college degree and decreasing enrollment in California K-12 and community colleges. With 95 percent of CSU undergraduate student population enrolling from California schools, the system and campuses will need to carefully monitor application and enrollment numbers in future years.