California State University Declares Systemwide Impaction

In response to the state's worsening fiscal crisis and in anticipation of additional proposed budget cuts, for the first time in its history, the California State University has declared a systemwide impaction that will result in fewer students admitted for next fall. The CSU is already serving 10,000 students for whom the state provides no funding, and all indications are that 2009-10 will be the second consecutive year that the CSU receives no funding for enrollment growth. Potentially, CSU may curtail enrollment by up to 10,000 students throughout the system.

“Because the state is unable to provide the resources needed to fully fund demand, we are forced to make this difficult decision,” said CSU Chancellor Charles B. Reed. “We cannot admit students if we are unable to provide adequate classes or instruction, support services or classroom facilities. We are taking this step to ensure the academic quality of the institution.”

California's 2008-09 budget provided $2.97 billion of state General Funds to the CSU. That is essentially the same amount the system received the previous year, and $215 million less than what is needed to meet enrollment growth and fund other operational expenses. In addition, the CSU faces a mid-year cut of $66.3 million and a recent one-time $31.3 million reduction.

For several years, CSU has continued to admit more students than the state has funded in order to provide access to all eligible students and to maintain the pipeline of graduates into the state's workforce. Currently, the CSU has approximately 450,000 students. Each year, nearly 90,000 CSU students graduate to begin working in California's key industries including nursing, engineering, agriculture, business, education, information technology and others.  

In response, CSU campuses have increased class sizes when possible and opened more course sections with temporary faculty appointments. But, decreasing revenues are causing a strain on resources, and this will no longer be possible, according to Reed.  

“We cannot continue to admit students if we do not receive adequate funding from the state to support such enrollment,” Reed said. “The quality of all students' education will be degraded by the chronic combination of underfunding and overenrollment.”

CSU campuses will still be required to admit all local CSU-eligible first-time freshmen and local upper division transfer students as is the usual established admissions policy. This will ensure that students who are not able to relocate, have jobs or family obligations will still be admitted to their local campus, provided they meet eligibility requirements. Many of these students are underserved, first-generation college students. In addition, campuses that need to increase enrollment to meet their funded student target limits may admit students from restricted categories with approval from the chancellor.

Under impaction, campuses will be allowed to use supplemental admissions criteria such as grade point average or wait list students in order to control enrollment. Priority will be given to continuing undergraduate students already enrolled, followed by California community college transfer students meeting transfer requirements and then California residents entering at freshman or sophomore levels. Non-resident students will have the lowest priority for admissions.

Record Number of Applications/Deadlines Pushed Up

The curtailment of enrollment comes at a time when demand to attend the CSU is rapidly rising. Applications for fall 2009 are up by almost 20 percent from this time last year, with even greater demand by community college transfer students (36 percent). A number of CSU campuses that are already impacted will stop accepting applications for freshmen admission on Nov. 30 for fall 2009 including Fullerton, Long Beach, Pomona, San Diego, San Luis Obispo, Sonoma, Channel Islands, Northridge and San Jose State. San Francisco State will close Dec. 10. Campuses at Chico and San Marcos will review freshmen applications after Nov. 30 on a “space available” basis.

In addition, campuses that were overenrolled for the 2008-09 year and need to curtail enrollment to meet the funded number of students must also stop accepting applications after Nov. 30. All campuses will close admissions for first-time freshmen by March 1, 2009, and some may close before that date if no enrollment space is available.

“We know that students turn to higher education when the economy is in a downturn, but the CSU is experiencing unprecedented admissions demand while having to reduce our enrollment,” said Allison Jones, assistant vice chancellor for student academic affairs. “We are telling students to make sure they know the deadlines for applications, apply to their local campus and have a backup plan in terms of campus selection.”

Prospective students should visit to complete the online application and obtain information about CSU campuses, deadlines and financial aid. In addition, CSU has posted a video on YouTube reminding students of the Nov. 30 deadline. View it here.