10 Reasons to Choose the CSU

Notable alumni discuss how their CSU education charted a path to success.


 

Serving 486,000 students across 23 campuses, the California State University plays an integral role in transforming the state and the lives of its people through higher education. As the largest university system in the U.S. with a range of studies and locations across California, the CSU provides all individuals interested in furthering their education access to a valuable, life-changing college degree. Here are just 10 reasons to apply to the CSU.

01

A High-Value Education at an Affordable Cost

The CSU is the best value in higher education. Year after year, it remains one of the most affordable university systems in the nation, with more than half of its students graduating with zero loan debt. In 2019, all 23 campuses ranked among the top 100 “Best Bang for the Buck” universities in the West, according to Washington Monthly.

In addition, the university offers students a variety of financial aid options to ensure access to higher education, including grants, loans, scholarships, fellowships, veteran’s aid and work study. In general, undergraduate students who qualify for financial assistance and whose family’s total annual income—as a family of four or more—​is less than $70,000 will not have to pay tuition fees. In the 2018-2019 school year, 83 percent of undergraduate students received some form of financial aid—with 349,000 students receiving a total of almost $4 billion.

“I am the grandson of a dreamer from Mexico. I am the son of farmworkers. I am the first in my family to graduate from college, raised by grandparents and my single mother who worked very hard to give me the opportunities they didn't have," CSU Chancellor Joseph I. Castro, Ph.D., said during Super Sunday 2021. “Higher education transformed my life. I assure you that no matter your circumstances, the CSU is within your reach. It is affordable and it will change your life."

02​

An Engine of Social Mobility

As Chancellor Castro stated, the CSU changes the lives of its students. Its ​campuses consistently rank high each year in CollegeNET’s “Social Mobility Index”—which measures to what extent higher education institutions are helping solve the declining levels of economic mobility in the U.S. The index looks at the cost of attendance, economic background of the student body, graduation rates and early career salaries to determine if schools are accepting economically disadvantaged students and graduating them into well-paying jobs. In 2020, 22 CSU campuses ranked in the top 60 percent of the index, and CSU campuses claimed 70 percent of the top 20 spots.

The importance of the CSU’s role in ensuring individuals can move up the income ladder becomes evident when considering the system awards more than half of California’s bachelor’s degrees and nearly a third of CSU students are first generation. “We are stewards of the American dream,” San José State President Mary Papazian said in a 2019 LA Times article. “Where you see socioeconomic mobility is at institutions like ours.”

 

03

A Focus on Student Success

With student success at the heart of Graduation Initiative 2025 (GI2025), there has never been a better time to be a CSU student. The ambitious initiative seeks to increase graduation rates for all CSU students while eliminating opportunity and achievement gaps. Since launching in 2015, the effort has helped more students complete their degree programs and graduate on time. Each year, graduation rates have steadily increased, with the CSU conferring a record-breaking 132,617 degrees in 2020-21.​

“Graduation Initiative 2025 has been a game changer for the CSU,” Dr. Castro says. “Thanks to our students’ intellect and drive—and to the skill, creativity and commitment of our world-class faculty and staff—graduation and persistence rates are at all-time highs for students from all walks of life.​​”

04

A University for All Students

Everyone is welcome at the CSU. As the nation’s most diverse four-year university, the CSU serves all students regardless of race, ethnicity, age, sex, gender, sexual orientation, ability or socioeconomic status. In fact, almost half of CSU students are underrepresented minorities, 21 of 23 campuses are Hispanic Serving Institutions and the CSU confers more than half of undergraduate degrees earned by California’s Latinx, African American and Native American students.

The university celebrates the diversity of its student body and ensures the success of all students​ through systemwide initiatives like the Educational Opportunity Program and GI2025, campus-based programs, cultural centers and anti-bias trainings.

05

World-Class Faculty

CSU faculty are among the best and the brightest in the profession, providing students with a quality education while addressing equity gaps. They are the leaders who engage with students, meet their learning needs in the campus or virtual classroom and prepare ​them for their future. The innovation and dedication of CSU instructors were made clear during the pandemic, when they found creative ways to transition to online learning.

Equally important is the CSU’s employment of diverse faculty members to reflect the composition of the student body. Efforts continue to both hire and retain professors of color who can offer unique support and serve as role models for students. “I think it’s very important for our students to see [faculty diversity] and to know that their instructors understand them and work to support their success,” Castro said in a Public Policy Institute of California interview.

06

A Bridge Across the Digital Divide

​The CSU is working diligently to ensure that students have the technology they need to be successful beginning on day one. Most recently, it launched its CSUCCESS (California State University Connectivity Contributing to Equity and Student Success) initiative to enhance digital equity. The first phase will provide an iPad Air for up to 35,000 first-year and new transfer students at eight campuses.

But COVID-19 and virtual learning also made apparent the technological disparities that exist along racial, ethnic and socioeconomic lines. The CSU refuses to turn a blind eye to these challenges and works to address these inequities that ultimately lead to unequal access to education. Ongoing efforts include providing low- and no-cost resources to students and faculty alike, but during the pandemic, the CSU also provided technology like Wi-Fi hotspots to students and transformed virtual instruction methods to continue offering a high-quality and robust education.

07

A Home to the Next Generation of Experts

One in 10 employees in California is a CSU graduate. As a result,​ the university is responsible for preparing the next generation of experts leading the state to a better future. With the support of top professors, laboratories, relationships with local industries and hands-on learning, CSU students will have the knowledge and experience to tackle the challenges of tomorrow—whether in agriculture, aerospace, cybersecurity or a variety of other industries. And, through the campuses’ entrepreneur and incubator programs, the university also encourages students to pave their own path forward, pushing California’s industries ahead or disrupting them when needed.

“The California State University provides unprecedented and transformational opportunities for students from all backgrounds to earn a high-quality college degree and to better their families, their communities and the industries in which they become leaders,” Castro said in an article exploring how a CSU degree changed the lives of alumni. “There is no other institution that makes this great of an impact on the entire state—the CSU is key to a growing and thriving California.”

08

A Generator of Innovation and Research

Even before graduation, CSU students get hands-on experience and learning opportunities conducting cutting-edge research in the lab and the field with faculty. Beyond the educational value, students help address some of the state’s, nation’s and world’s most pressing challenges​. Just this past year, CSU research helped California understand and combat COVID-19, while other ongoing research has looked at climate change, aid for those with disabilities, fire prevention, ocean conservation and earthquakes.

09

A Champion of Leadership

Students will also develop leadership skills, both inside and outside of the classroom, before entering the workforce​. Whether through work study or internships, campus organizations or athletics, volunteering or civic engagement initiatives, the CSU ensures students’ learning experience prepares them to serve and lead their communities both inside and outside a professional capacity.

10

A Global Alumni Network

With the graduation of the Class of 2021, the CSU reached 4 million alumni. This extensive network provides students and graduates with people to turn to for mentorship, advice and internship or job opportunities.​

While 84 percent of CSU alumni live in California, the network stretches across the globe with alumni groups operating in Washington, D.C., and New York and new groups starting up in Tokyo and the United Kingdom.


Want to transform your future? Apply to the California State University.
Fall 2022 applications will be accepted beginning October 1, 2021.