Story Social Mobility

2018 in Review: CSU Campuses Recognized for Opportunity and Value

Alisia Ruble


​California State University campuses are consistently lauded for their academic excellence, degree value and contributions to the public good. Take a look back at highlights from the past year, during which the CSU received nods from accredited national university rankings, media outlets and community partners for providing students with opportunities for upward mobility on a large scale.

Social Mobility

The Social Mobility Index developed by PayScale and CollegeNET listed all 23 CSU campuses within the top quartile of the nation’s universities for helping low-income students find financial success—with 11 campuses in the top 20.

Washington Monthly recognized 21 CSU campuses in its annual rankings—with seven campuses placing in the top 25 among master's institutions. Cal Maritime also ranked sixth nationally among bachelor's universities. Fresno, Fullerton, San Diego and San Francisco were included among "National Universities"—with Fresno State placing in the top 25 in this category.


Eighteen campuses were named to Forbes’ list of America’s Top Colleges for providing students with opportunities that lead to successful lives and careers. Forbes also listed 17 CSU campuses in its list of the nation’s Best Value Colleges—with San Luis Obispo among the top 10 schools that had the most success with upward mobility.

Twenty-two CSU campuses were named to Money magazine’s Best Colleges For Your Money ranking, which identifies more than 700 leading U.S. institutions whose educations are worth the cost. Money also named 12 CSU campuses to its list of the nation’s Top 50 Best Public Colleges, which examines 26 measures of affordability, educational quality and alumni’s financial success. 

In PayScale’s 2018 Best Value Colleges report, 12 CSU campuses ranked among the nation’s top 100 public universities when it comes to return on investment for in-state tuition. Among public universities, Maritime ranks eighth in the nation and San Luis Obispo ranks 15th.

Student Achievement

In addition to rankings and media outlets, partners and other parties have acknowledged the CSU’s recent success in improving student achievement. The university's Graduation Initiative 2025 has received acclaim for efforts to close equity gaps between underserved students and their peers and improve graduation rates. Recently announced figures show success in reaching those goals.

The Public Policy Institute of California released a study on the integral role higher education plays in the state’s economic health in which Graduation Initiative 2025 progress was highlighted. The institute applauded the CSU for progress in increasing access and improving graduation rates while undertaking serious efforts to narrow equity gaps. By their calculations, the CSU is on track to meet its goal of producing an additional 500,000 graduates by 2025.

The final 2018-19 state budget included continued funding for Graduation Initiative 2025, acknowledging that “previous investments in the Initiative have already demonstrated early success, such as increasing the four-year graduation rate for first-time freshmen from 19 percent to 23 percent.”

For more highlights of the CSU’s impact on student success, visit our rankings and recognition page.