Some CSUs have to turn away thousands of students. These proposals may fix that

California State University trustees meet in Long Beach.
California State University trustees meet in Long Beach.
Adolfo Guzman-Lopez/KPCC

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Last year, 32,000 high school seniors were turned away from their first choice California State University campus because of high demand. The university's trustees are aiming to fix that with two proposals they approved unanimously on Wednesday at a board meeting in Long Beach. The changes are set to go into effect for seniors applying for admission in the fall of 2019. Here's some background:

Which of the 23 CSU campuses and what programs are in highest demand?

When CSU campuses get more applications than seats available, the campuses are labeled “impacted.” Impaction allows campuses to use different criteria for admission, such as SAT/ACT scores for residents with a 3.0 grade point average. These campuses get so many applications that all majors at the campuses are labeled impacted:

Some CSU campuses are not impacted but some of their majors are. CSU has created a searchable database here to find out which majors at which campuses are impacted.

How would the proposals change impaction?

One proposal would use the CSU’s electronic application system, Cal State Apply, to automatically direct seniors to a non-impacted campus if they’ve been turned down by an impacted campus or major. The second proposal would give advantage to seniors from a campus’ local area.

How much would these proposals cost?

Cal State staff say that if 10 percent of the 32,000 students now turned away from their top choice ended up enrolling to another campus, it would add about $16 million to the public costs of funding the system. CSU says it costs about $11,000 to educate each full time student with half of that from state funding and the other half from student tuition. 

Although getting more Californians enrolled would comply with a request last year in the state legislature’s budget, where that additional money would come from is uncertain. The cost raised eyebrows during a committee meeting on Tuesday because trustees already are considering raising student tuition. Such a hike would compensate for getting less money than they asked for from Sacramento. Gov. Jerry Brown will propose a revised budget for next fiscal year in May and the legislature will approve a final budget in the summer.