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CSU’s: 3 Facts You Should Know Before You Go Posted on:Friday, October 4th, 2013


If you have a 2.0, decent SAT scores, and you have satisfied the A-G course requirements, guess what? Chances are high that you’ll be admitted to a California State University.  It may not be the school of your choice, but if you cast your net widely, you’ll get in –  somewhere.

Just because you can “Get In,” doesn’t mean you should jump so quickly on the offer? The latest graduation and retention rates reported for CSU’s suggest that some schools are far better investments than others.  In the table below, you can see that only 4-CSUrates14% of

students graduate within 4 years at the CSU’s listed. That’s very low, considering that the average 4-year graduation rate for students attending public universities in California is 34%.

According to CollegeData, “if a college has a lower graduation rate it may mean that a sizeable number of students drop out before graduating or have difficulty getting the support and classes they need to stay on track.”

To ensure that you’re getting both a financial break as well as a high quality experience by attending a California State University, here’s what you should consider:

Tip #1

  • Use a site such as CollegeData, Big Future, or College Completion to compare graduation rates.  The higher the number the better. Look at the average “time to graduation” to determine how long on average it takes a student to graduate from X university.  If it takes 6 years, ask why? Also, be prepared to factor this time into your financial planning.

Tip #2

  • Using the same sites listed above, you also want to check the school’s Retention Rate, which is the % of students returning for their sophomore year.  Here’s a snapshot of Cal Poly San Luis Obispo’s retention and graduate rates from Big Future.Great!

Tip #3

  • Check the schools generosity level.  Don’t assume that just because you’re attending a Cal State, that you’re getting a great deal. Compare and do your research, especially if you’re anticipating a sizeable EFC (Expected Family Contribution).  1) Visit College Boards Big Future 2)  Enter the school name in search box 3) Click the Paying , then the Financial Aid by Numbers tab too see % of scholarships/grants offered compared to loans. Here’s a snapshot of Cal Poly San Luis Obispo compared with San Jose State on the bottom.  You can see that San Jose State is a bit more generous when it comes to scholarships and grants.

Remember, getting into college is only half of the battle.  Set yourself up for success by properly researching and selecting a college that offers the greatest ROI.

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