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What You Need to Know About Applying to the CSU

Alisia Ruble

Several CSUs are still accepting applications for the fall 2024 term.

a group of future college students on campus for a preview day

With 23 universities across California, the CSU offers more access to diverse higher education pathways than any other public university system in the United States. While the priority application filing period for the fall 2024 term has passed, several CSUs across the state have extended the deadline to apply and are still accepting applications.

Find answers below to some of the most common questions students have when applying to the CSU.

How do I apply to the CSU and when are applications due?

Applicants should start by visiting the Cal State Apply portal and creating an account. Students input their information just once to apply to any of the CSU's 23 universities. The priority application filing period for the fall 2024 term has passed, but more than half of CSUs continue to accept applications. Prospective students are encouraged to apply to their desired campus as soon as possible as they are accepting applications on a space-available basis. Visit the Cal State Apply website for a full list of application dates and deadlines.

Is there a GPA requirement to apply?

Freshman applicants who are California residents or students graduating from a California high school should have a minimum 2.5 GPA to be admissible into the CSU. However, students who have less than a 2.5 GPA but greater than a 2.0 GPA should still consider applying as they can be considered for admission using a number of additional factors or by going through the admission application appeal process.

Transfer students​ should have a minimum​ 2.0 GPA in all college coursework. Non-California residents can view admissions requirements on the Cal State Apply website.

Where do I get help with submitting my application?

A number of CSU campuses are offering application workshops to assist students. Students are encouraged to check their desired campus outreach office or their high school or community college counselor or career center to find out if there are any workshops being offered for them.

Applicants can also take advantage of a chatbot nicknamed “Cassie," which can be found in the bottom right-hand corner of the Cal State Apply portal. Virtual assistants are available 24/7 through the chatbot. They can also get application help via email and phone by contacting Cal State Apply customer service liaisons.

What does it cost to apply?

It costs $70 to submit an application, and applicants can apply to up to 23 universities. So, for example, if a student wishes to apply to four CSU campuses, the total would be $280. However, the CSU has expanded its California resident undergraduate application fee waiver, and now almost half of all applicants will qualify to have the $70 fee waived for up to four universities.

The Cal State Apply application will automatically alert students if they're eligible to receive a fee waiver when they're about to submit. If an applicant does not automatically qualify for an application fee waiver, they may file a fee waiver appeal form with their desired CSU campus.

Can international students obtain an acceptance letter without SAT or TOEFL scores?

Applicants do not need an SAT score to apply to the CSU. However, international students whose primary language of instruction was not English in the last three years do need to take the Test for English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) and submit those scores to the respective campus they're applying to.

Applicants are also encouraged to visit their desired CSU website for prospective international students to see all of the requirements to obtain admission.

I just applied…. now what?

The first thing applicants should do after applying is check their emails to confirm that the campuses they applied to have received their application. Applicants can also check that information in the Cal State Apply portal under “check status."

Applicants should pay close attention to emails and text messages from the campuses they applied to in case there are any updates to their application. Campuses will send out notice of their admissions decision by March 31, 2024.

Lastly, applicants should apply for financial aid as soon as possible. At the CSU, about 80% of students receive some kind of financial aid, and 60% of undergraduates have their tuition completely covered by grants or other non-load aid.

Find out more about what to expect after you've submitted a CSU application.

Is there an option to provide a letter of recommendation?

Applicants do not need to submit any letters of recommendation, resumes or personal statements. A majority of the admissions decisions are based off of academic coursework they enter into the application.

Applicants do need to submit an essay and two letters of recommendation if they are applying to the Educational Opportunity Program (EOP), which is a student support services program that provides admission, academic and financial help to historically underserved students throughout California.​

How do I know which CSU is right for me?

Picking the right place to earn your degree is an important part of applying to the CSU. Get help choosing a campus by comparing schools, taking an in-person or virtual campus tour or even attending a campus event for future students.

Here are some questions applicants may want to consider when choosing a campus:​

  • How far do you want to travel away from home?
  • Are you looking for a big school or a small school?
  • What kind of research are you interested in? 
  • Do you want a school that is close to the beach, or do you want something close to the mountains or the desert?​

​The deadline to apply is quickly approaching, so don't delay! Visit the Cal State Apply website​ to find your future at the CSU, and discover ways to fund your CSU education​.