No room at Cal State U

California State University will turn away 10,000 eligible freshmen in 2009, because it can’t afford to educate them.

The students who will lose out will be those who decide to go to college after the early deadlines have closed, (Chancellor Charles) Reed said.

“Here is who I worry about most: Many students in California have a culture of applying late to the CSUs, after Nov. 30. Many of them come from families who are underserved and families of color,” said Reed. “They are not sure about how to get things together, financially, to be able to go to college. They are unsure about financial aid. So that hesitancy will put them at a disadvantage.”

Some CSU campuses will give first priority to students who live in the region, making it harder for students to go to college away from home.

Half of CSU’s first-year students take remedial English and math classes. Raising standards would eliminate the crowding easily. But it’s not going to happen.

About Joanne


  1. Fortunately, the pools of people who apply late and who require remedial education have a lot of overlap. But I,too, would be happier if they set a standard. A simple one: Must have 480 or higher on all three sections of the SAT OR a passing grade on an AP test.

    If you can’t manage one of those, then you shouldn’t be at a Cal State.

  2. Cardinal Fang says:

    Passing grade = 3?

  3. Cardinal Fang says:

    According to the LA Times, CSU is indeed planning to raise the admissions requirements:

    Some campuses, including Sonoma, Channel Islands, Northridge, Chico, San Jose, San Marcos and San Francisco, will continue to take all fully qualified students from their own communities. But students from other parts of California may have to show higher grade-point averages and test scores to make the cut at these and other campuses, officials said.

    San Diego State, Cal State Long Beach, Cal State Fullerton, Cal Poly Pomona and Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, the most popular campuses, have imposed similar academic restrictions for several years.

  4. If the problem is budget cuts, then why not just raise tuition for students? CSU charges only around $3500-4000 per year, which is less than the Pell Grant maximum of $4700.

    According to the College Board, the median tuition charged by public 4 year colleges in the U.S. for 2008 is $6600. So even if CSU raised its tuition to $5k/yr, it’d still be on the cheaper side.

  5. Larry, San Francisco says:

    Shouldn’t remedial education be what the community colleges do? I wonder what percentage of students who require remedial education at Cal-State schools actually end up graduating (my guess is low). I think students should be able to show they can do college work before being admitted to college (especially when it is subsidized) other wise they waste their time.
    I think this if fairer (especially to poor kids) than raising tuition.

  6. I’m worried. How will this affect diversity? Isn’t that the most important thing?

  7. This has got me thinking: if you look at our K-12 system from an economic standpoint, it is remarkably inefficient. Twelve years to produce marginally-literate 18 year olds? Pathetic. We really ought to be able to pack much of the education kids get in community college and CSU-caliber universities into our K-12 program through a beefed-up Euro/Asian style core-knowledge curriculum. A European gymnasim/high school grad knows so much more than most American high school grads. Imitating France, Finland, et. al. would save society a lot of money, and would make it less catastrophic when we have to restrict enrollment at the university level. How wasteful that we must dedicate our colleges to teaching basic writing and algebra! America has become fat, sloppy and inefficient on so many levels. We need more efficient cars, cities, foreign policy…and schools.

  8. Cardinal–thanks for letting me know. I hope the admissions requirements have some teeth.

    “CSU charges only around $3500-4000 per year, which is less than the Pell Grant maximum of $4700. ”

    Back in 1980, it cost about $200/year to go to a Cal State, as opposed to a couple thousand a year for a UC. That’s a 10:1 differential.

    Now it’s 2:1. The CSUs pretty much require five years to get a degree, and it’s of a far lower reputation. And it can only beat the UCs by 2:1.

    Raising the tuition is a terrible idea. Better would be lower tuition and make higher standards so that the degree would mean more.

  9. Bill Leonard says:

    I am trying hard not to laugh out loud.

    Starting in the summer of 1960, I worked summers in a cannery — 48 hours/week, straight time, at various manual labor jobs, including hand-loading trucks and rail cars. I had no support whatsoever from mother, later stepfather, or any other relative.

    I typically made around $3,500 – $4,00/summer. I also held a variety of part-time jobs thru the school year, most years.

    The point is, by marshaling my funds, riding a bike, public transit and with timely transportation from friends and school mates, I paid my own way thru college — including books, tuition and the rest. While summer industrial jobs clearly are not available these days to anyone who lines up outside the plant for a union shape-up, there are many ways to get thru school.

    But, one has to want to try — and understand that NO ONE owes you a living.

    So, disadvantaged/hard-up young students, it’s up to you to make your life choices and to get off your ass and get it.


  10. Bill,

    Wouldn’t $3,500 in 1960 dollars be about $35,000 in today’s dollars? Even if an aspiring college student worked 70 hours a week at Trader Joe’s, at $20/hour that’s only $14,000 for a ten-week summer. That’s about half as much as you garnered (and I was being generous with that $20/hour). I suspect it’s quite a bit harder now than in union-and-manufacturing-rich 1960 for a low-skill worker to amass the capital he needs to invest in further education.

  11. According to the UC Berkeley website, the cost of attendance for an in-state student living at home is $18k. So that makes $3.5-4k for CSU seem very cheap in comparison to me.

    California’s public colleges and universities may have had ridiculously low tuition back several decades ago, but that’s not particularly relevant. Times change and the price of many things have gone up.

    My parents bought their first home in the Bay Area for $55k in 1977; that same house today would sell for over half a million dollars even with the recent downturn in the real estate market.

    When I was a newlywed back in 1999, I paid $0.70/gal for gas. At the peak of the price spike this summer, I was paying $4.60/gal.

  12. Many of them come from families who are underserved and families of color

    Isn’t underserved better than overserved?

  13. “According to the UC Berkeley website, the cost of attendance for an in-state student living at home is $18k. ”

    According to reality, the cost of living at home for an instate student is roughly the same whether it’s UC Berkeley or a Cal State. So the appropriate comparison–and the one I made–is on fees.