Students in a classroom and professor teaching
Story Graduation Initiative

Summer Sessions Help Students Progress Toward Graduation

Michelle Baik

CSU campuses are making it easier for students to take classes over the summer by offering financial aid and more course options.

Students in a classroom and professor teaching

Taking summer courses is one way to stay on the path toward a timely graduation. Photo courtesy of Humboldt State


The California State University's Graduation Initiative 2025 aims to ensure more students have the opportunity to graduate in a timely manner, according to their own goals.

More specifically, one of the initiative's aims is to improve four-year and six-year graduation rates for first-time freshmen and two-year and four-year graduate rates for transfer students, along with closing the achievement and equity gaps.

One of the strategies to achieve this goal: increasing summer session enrollment. When students can take classes in the summer – especially ones that were full during the academic year, or conflicted with their job or other responsibilities – they move that much closer to earning their degree.

The CSU system wants to increase enrollment by providing students more course offerings to progress toward graduation and also making it easier to pay for those classes. Students can enroll, too, in both online and in-person courses, allowing more flexibility.

A number of CSU campuses offer financial support to students interested in taking summer session courses. Examples include:

​Additionally, with the support of the CSU's federal advocacy efforts, HR 244 bill was recently passed, which restored the year-round Pell Grant program beginning summer 2018. This means that students may be eligible to receive an additional term of Pell Grant during an award year, typically in summer.

"Enabling thousands of [our] students to receive financial aid year-round provides much-needed flexibility for them as they seek to complete their degree on time," said Chancellor White in a recent statement with State University of New York (SUNY) Chancellor Nancy L. Zimpher.

In addition to offering financial incentives, campuses are working with academic departments to increase the number of sections offered for high-demand and impacted courses that are required for students to graduate. As more students take summer courses, this will also open up more seats in the fall and spring semester for incoming students.

CSU students can take summer courses through Cal State Online, too; through this program, the 23 CSU campuses collaborate to provide more than one thousand courses that are completely online and fully transferrable for all students.

Student Success; Affordability