Supportive Pathways for First-Year Students Program

Ensuring students are prepared for success begins even before their first day on a CSU campus. As part of the CSU's commitment to academic preparation and student success, the Supportive Pathways for First-Year Students Program offers intentional pathways and support structures for in​coming CSU students. Building on the strongest aspects of the former Early Start Program, Supportive Pathways expands upon what was once a summer-only program to encompass a full first year of both academic and social supports. By aspiring to provide all students the supports necessary to meet their General Education requirements, the program contributes to ongoing system efforts to support student retention and increase graduation rates.


In 2010, the Early Start Program was created to provide new first-year students identified as needing additional academic support the chance to begin developmental education courses in the summer between high school and college. In 2017, Assessment of Academic Preparation and Placement in First-Year General Education Written Communication and Mathematics/ Quantitative Reasoning Courses (EO 1110) strengthened the Early Start Program by providing students the opportunity to earn college credit in the summer before their first term. In fall 2022, CSU faculty, staff and administrators were consulted to identify recommendations to better meet the needs of incoming first-time students. The result is the Supportive Pathways for First-Year Students Program.

Key Benefits

  • Students have the opportunity to earn college credit toward graduation
  • Fosters a sense of community and belonging through services that include supports both in and outside of the classroom experience
  • Expands eligibility to include all incoming first-year students, at the discretion of the university
  • Students will participate at the university they will be attending
  • Universities have autonomy to develop their program in ways that can be customized to their unique student population needs and GE coursework

University Grants

In fall 2022, universities were invited to participate in an RFP process for funding totaling $10 million in grants to reimagine services previously provided under the Early Start Program or similar programs. See list of 2023 grants​.

For More Information

Are you a student or counselor interested in learning more about this program? Visit https://www.csustudentsuccess.org/supportive-pathways-first-year-students-program​ for more information.​