Six Facts About Admissions Impaction at the CSU




Impaction in the admissions process is never a decision of first choice. A campus is designated impacted only when the number of fully eligible applicants exceeds the number of available spaces that the campus can accommodate given the instructional resources and physical capacity of the campus. The process used by campuses to declare impaction is outlined in Education Code 66202. This law permits a campus to develop enrollment plans and implement admission priorities that will ensure a balanced program and quality education for all students.

FACT: Students are still being admitted into CSU campuses that are impacted.

Impaction does not mean that no new students are being admitted, rather it means that the space is limited, and supplemental criteria is used. While 17 of the 23 campuses are declared impacted, these campuses are still admitting first-time freshmen. In fact, one third of CSU campuses are able to admit any applicant who meets the minimum requirements to be eligible.

Campuses that are designated as impacted admit a portion or all of their new students using admission criteria beyond the minimum required to be CSU eligible. Out of necessity in addressing the resources and capacity on campus, the impacted campuses modify the enrollment criteria to admit fewer students. Students who are more prepared for college stand a better chance of being admitted to their first campus of choice.

FACT: Even though the CSU has received additional funding from the state, it is not enough to fund all fully-eligible applicants.

From 2008-2012, the CSU lost $1 billion of state funding. Due to budget constraints, the university has been forced to turn away 20,000 to 30,000 fully qualified students each academic year for the past six years. Today, the CSU’s funding is still $400 million below pre-recession levels. In the absence of adequate, sustained and predictable funding from the state, CSU enrollments cannot keep pace with the demand from new students.

Impaction is a complicated issue involving funding and enrollment management. Applications for fall 2015 were at a six-year high of 790,000 applications, and based on Governor Brown’s multi-year funding plan, the system will only be funded for a one percent net enrollment growth. This is not sufficient to admit all eligible freshman and transfer applicants.  When demand exceeds resources, preference is first given to continuing CSU students and then transfer applicants, as serving community college transfer students is a unique aspect of the CSU mission as specified in California’s Master Plan for Higher Education.

FACT: Impaction does not adversely impact students of color.

The CSU serves the most diverse student population in the nation. More than half of all CSU students are students of color. More than 1/3 are the first in their families to attend college. More than 49 percent are Pell-eligible, making them the most economically disadvantaged students in the nation. Despite having 17 campuses declared impacted, the CSU is more ethnically and racially diverse today than when state institutions considered affirmative action in admission. The CSU is committed to ensuring that all college-ready students have access to a quality CSU education.

FACT: The CSU is implementing initiatives and programs to improve access to the CSU.

All CSU campuses are taking a careful look at enrollment management and to implement practices and technology that reduce the time to degree, thus creating opportunities for new student enrollment.  These efforts include:

  • Reducing the number of units required to earn a BA/BS degree while maintaining quality. Ninety-four (94) percent of BA/BS programs now require 120 semester units or equivalent.
  • Redesigning courses to incorporate technology to improve content retention, especially in the courses with historically high failure rates.
  • Expanding the Associate Degree for Transfer program to ensure that transfer students enter the university better academically prepared and ready to complete the remaining 60 semester units needed to fulfill degree requirements.
  • Expanding the use of electronic academic advising tools to establish clear pathways to degrees and data analysis to improve student outcomes.
  • Expanding access to online course offerings to increase degree completion rates. CourseMatch is an online concurrent enrollment program that provides full-time students enrolled at any campus with access to fully online courses offered at other CSU campuses.

These programs and initiatives allow our current students to graduate more quickly, while still providing them a high-quality education. With more students graduating in a timely manner, more new first-time freshman and transfer students can be accommodated.

FACT: The CSU is committed to upholding its mission to provide an accessible higher education.

Admitting more students than the system is funded to serve is a disservice to our students. Without sound enrollment management, students cannot progress to degree in a timely manner. The best way to guarantee timely degree completion is to responsibly meet the needs of existing students and admit the students that the CSU is funded to serve.

The CSU is committed to ensuring that as many interested and qualified students as possible have access to the high-quality degree programs at the CSU. However, the CSU cannot admit students that the system is not funded to serve. If the state fully funds the CSU’s proposed 2015-16 operating budget—totaling a $269 million increase— the university will be funded for a three percent net enrollment growth. The additional revenue in the Support Budget Request would increase the number of new CSU-eligible students who can be admitted, however, it will not eliminate the impaction status of our campuses, as impaction is a complex issue that involves sustained funding, physical capacity, and enrollment management.

FACT: Impaction is a viable and needed solution for managing student enrollment given physical capacity and campus resources.

Thoughtful enrollment planning requires a long-term, sustained funding commitment on behalf of the state, the CSU’s main funding partner. The admission of any student is a multi-year commitment. Impaction in the admission process allows CSU campuses to provide authentic access to new students, by matching enrollment to the resources available to support instruction and services.