As Graduation Initiative 2025 enters its third year, the CSU expects to use $75 million of the 2019-20 operating budget request to meet the ambitious goals adopted by each campus. Launched in 2016, this initiative aims to raise the graduation rates for first-time and transfer students and eliminate equity gaps for underserved students of color and Pell Grant recipients.
Systemwide, the four-year graduation rates for first-time students improved by two percentage points compared to last year and by six percentage points over the last three years. Since 2015, nearly all campuses have increased their four-year graduation rate:
For the first time, equity gaps are beginning to close. Students’ ability to earn a degree should not be determined by their background or family income but by their willingness to put in the work required to accomplish their educational goals. Equity gaps are shrinking while enrolling a greater percentage of underserved students of color and Pell Grant recipients. These enrollment trends underscore the need to explicitly focus on closing equity gaps at every level of the university.
The increases in graduation rates shown above represent all-time highs in each category. Additionally, the number of bachelor’s degrees awarded reached an all-time high with 105,431 in 2018, 6,660 more than 2017 and 13,387 more compared to 2016. They also represent the dedication of CSU faculty, intentional action by campus leaders and a systemwide focus on student success. Continuous state funding for Graduation Initiative 2025 is critical to maintain momentum. Campuses will continue to use these funds to offer more courses, hire additional faculty and to advance innovative student success practices.
An investment by the state in Graduation Initiative 2025 in 2019-20 will immediately benefit our students. Students who earn their degree one term earlier save approximately $14,000 in tuition, fees, housing and other costs of attendance, and reduce the need for additional student loan debt. Reducing time to degree means that graduates enter the workforce or graduate school sooner, furthering their potential to earn more over their lifetimes to improve their lives and the lives of their families.
Predictable, sufficient investment in Graduation Initiative 2025 means that the CSU can continue to fund innovative strategies to address student success with focus on these six areas:
These efforts ensure that all students have the opportunity to earn a degree, empowering current and future generations of Californians. More information about specific systemwide and campus priorities can be found at