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Cal State Grad Rates Hit Record Highs, Equity Gaps Narrow

Graduation rates for California State University students hit record highs in 2018, as campuses poured money into new faculty and expanded academic support and financial aid, university system officials announced in October.

The nation’s largest and most diverse public university system also narrowed the persistent gap in graduation rates between low-income and underrepresented minority students and their peers.

In 2016, Cal State committed to raising four-year graduation rates to 40%, six-year rates to 70% and eliminate all differences in degree completion among underrepresented minority and low-income students by 2025. Since 2016, the state and the university system have earmarked $220 million to support the initiative.

Cal State Chancellor Timothy P. White says that shortening the time it takes to graduate by just one semester would immediately save students $13,000 in educational costs, reduce their debt and help them jump-start their careers. White has asked each campus to create its own plan to help students graduate more quickly.

Overall, Cal State campuses last year added 4,300 new course sections, opening 90,000 additional seats and reducing bottlenecks. Some have offered students small sums of money in micro-grants to help them get over the finish line. Faculty and academic advisors are making more use of data to identify struggling students and quickly step in to help. Campuses also have expanded summer offerings and redesigned courses to incorporate more academic support.

Summary of Cal State data:

  • Cal State students earned 105,431 bachelor’s degrees in 2018, up 6,660 over last year to reach an all-time high.
  • The 2018 four-year graduation rate for freshmen went up more than 6 percentage points, from 19.2%, since 2015.
  • The 2018 six-year rate rose to 61.1% from 57% during that same period.
  • For transfer students, the two-year rate increased to 37.6% in 2018 from 30.5% in 2015.
  • The graduation rate gap between underrepresented students of color and their peers narrowed to 10.5% in 2018 from 12.2% in 2017.
  • For low-income students eligible for federal Pell grants, the gap slightly declined to 9.5% from 10.6% during that same period.

Click here to read full article by Teresa Watanabe covers education for the Los Angeles Times.