10 Reasons to Choose the CSU

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


Serving 460,000 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.


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 univers​ity systems in the nation, with more than half of its students graduating with zero loan debt. In 2022, 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. About 80 percent of CSU students receive some form of financial aid, and about 60 percent have their tuition fully covered by non-loan aid.


An Engine of Social Mobility

Earning a CSU degree changes the lives of students and their families. CSU 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. 

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.

“For more than 60 years, the California State University has set the standard for inclusive excellence in higher education, transforming the lives of its talented and diverse students as it elevates families and communities and powers California's sustained economic vitality," Chancellor Jolene Koester says.



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 nearly 130,000 degrees in 2021-22.

In fall 2021, the CSU introduced five GI2025 priorities to eliminate equity gaps affecting underserved students: reengage and reenroll underserved students, expand credit opportunities with summer/intersession, ensure equitable access to digital degree planners, eliminate administrative barriers to graduation and promote equitable learning practices and reduce DFW (D-F-Withdraw) rates.

“There's no doubt that our students, especially those from historically underserved communities, faced a range of challenges through the pandemic," says Executive Vice Chancellor of Academic and Student Affairs Sylvia A. Alva, Ph.D. “But our entire Cal State family is committed to reaching out, breaking down barriers and reassuring our students that their dreams of a CSU degree are within reach."


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, more than half of CSU students are from traditionally underrepresented backgrounds, 21 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.


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.


A Bridge Across the Digital Divide

COVID-19 and virtual learning made apparent the technological disparities that exist along racial, ethnic and socioeconomic lines. Addressing these technology equity gaps remains a priority for the CSU. During the 2021-22 academic year, 14 CSU campuses deployed over 29,000 personal computing devices and thousands of mobile broadband hotspots to meet a broad range of student needs, as part of the CSUCCESS initiative.

Campus-based student technology equity initiatives, including long-term loans for high-quality computing devices, are enhancing student achievement and creating more equitable opportunities for the CSU community. The CSU's collective work around CSUCCESS has yielded information and stories about how technology equity programs can make a difference in students' lives.

In addition to industry-leading technology, the CSU's continued efforts include increasing the number of courses using low- or no-cost learning materials through Affordable Learning Solutions (AL$) to provide equitable access to education and improve retention. The program saves students across California $77 million annually.

Digital equity initiatives are an important component of the CSU's efforts to recover from the pandemic and improve student success while eliminating opportunity and achievement gaps as part of GI2025.


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 agricultureaerospacecybersecurity 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.


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 . In just the past few years, CSU research helped California understand and combat COVID-19, while other ongoing research has looked at climate change, aid for those with disabilitiesfire preventionocean conservation and earthquakes.


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 athleticsvolunteering 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.


A Global Alumni Network

In 2021, the CSU reached 4 million alumni—a number that continues to grow each year. 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.