Are Stagnant CSU Graduation Rates Cause for Concern?

California State University graduation rates for 2023 did not improve for the most part from last year leaving uncertainty as to whether the institute will meet its target goal in two years.

In 2015, Cal State established the Graduation Initiative 2025, a ten-year challenge to increase the number of degrees CSUs hand out across the board, while also eliminating equity gaps and meeting California’s workforce needs. However, preliminary data presented at a recent symposium in San Diego showed that this year’s graduation rates did not change for students who started as freshmen, and a small shift for transfer-students from last year.

Both the four- and six-year graduation rates for first time students stayed exactly the same from last year at 35% and 62% apiece. CSU will have to figure out how to reach the system’s target goals of 40% for the four-year rate and 70% for six by the 2025 deadline.

Unfortunately, the data on transfer students is not much better. While the two-year graduation rate for transfers did climb by a single percentage point from last year up to 41%, the four-year rate fell to 79%, making it the furthest away from its target goal. The 2025 target rates for both are 45% for two-year transfers and 85% for four-year transfers.

Though despite the recent shortcomings, Cal State’s graduation rates increased tremendously in comparison to what they were when the program initially started in 2015. The four-year rate for first time students saw the biggest boost by almost doubling its graduation percentage from 19% in 2015. The six-year rate for freshmen was 57% when the program began, and transfer students also climbed from the two-year 31% rate and the four-year 73% rate.

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