CSUN seeks comment on plan to cut enrollment by 300 students

File photo: California State Northridge is seeking tougher admissions standards as a means of managing enrollment against its resources.
File photo: California State Northridge is seeking tougher admissions standards as a means of managing enrollment against its resources.
Peter & Joyce Grace/Flickr

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California State University Northridge says it has so many qualified student applicants that it's seeking approval to enroll 300 fewer students by raising its grade-point average and test score requirements.

Seventeen of Cal State’s 23 campuses are facing similar issues as the growing numbers of applicants exceed the universities' financial capacity to provide enough classes and instructors. 

Nathan Evans, the head of enrollment at CSU, said "we have had more campuses each year sort of seeking that flexibility to add additional criteria.”

CSUN's tougher standards would pertain only to students applying from outside the campus’ geographic base in San Fernando Valley. They include students from Ventura County and east region of the Los Angeles Unified School District in the valley, said Cal State Northridge  spokesman Jeff Noblitt.

“For freshman admission, that means they would have to meet a higher admissions standard,” said Noblitt, assuming the tougher requirements are ultimately approved by Cal State Chancellor Timothy White.

The university has scheduled hearings at 6 p.m. on Tuesday in Culver City and Wednesday in Moorpark to gather comment on the CSUN proposal limiting admission.

Critics of the limits say they would especially impact poor and minority students who may have challenges meeting current admissions standards.

Noblitt said the university wants to avoid unduly affecting lower-income freshmen. "We’re going to continue to recruit heavily to retain the strong commitment to a diverse student body," he said.

Northridge and Fresno were the only Cal State campuses that met a deadline to seek admissions changes for next fall. But other campuses facing similar enrollment challenges include the Cal State universities in LA, Long Beach, Pomona, San Bernardino, and San Diego.

Evans recommends students who would have a tougher time getting into universities with higher standards apply instead to Cal State campuses in Channel Islands, Dominguez Hills, and Bakersfield where demand is less severe.

According to the Cal State website, campuses still taking applications for the fall semester include Channel Islands, Bakersfield, Dominguez Hills and Humboldt State University.

CSU administrators requested more funds from the state to grow enrollment by 3 percent next fall, but Gov. Jerry Brown’s budget proposal funds growth of only 1 percent. 

Caps on enrollment, especially for California students, is part of a bigger debate about state funding of California colleges and universities. As the percentage of state funding has fallen, universities say they are under more pressure to raise tuition and limit enrollment. 

Brown has maintained that higher education institutions need to grow more efficient and live within their budgets.