Administrators Hope to Save Money by Avoiding Super-Senior Status.

Prompted by a significant decrease in state funding — which has led the CSU Board of Trustees to slash enrollment at each of the university’s 23 campuses — the new plan aims to free up space for incoming freshmen and transfer students by making it easier for existing students to graduate early.

According to CSU spokesperson Erik Fallis, the campuses are using academic advising to prevent students from switching majors — often requiring an entirely new set of general-education courses, hindering progress toward graduation.

In previous years, the CSU system received $11,075 per student from the state, but that figure has since dropped to $4,669 per student. As a result, the CSU system has slashed enrollment by 40,000 students since last year.

The enrollment crunch drew officials’ attention to a large population of super seniors — students with more than 144 academic credits. There are currently around 12,000 super seniors throughout the CSU system.

“We’re trying to work on reducing some of the barriers to student graduation, and to help move students along,” Fallis said.

He stressed, however, that the program is not meant to push students out of the universities — rather, to prevent them from wasting time on unnecessary classes.

“We know some students are going to take longer than six years,” Fallis said. “This isn’t saying that students have to graduate within six years, but we’re working as much as we can to make it possible for students to graduate more quickly, and to have a clear road map of what they need to do to get a degree.”

According to Fallis, CSU campuses have been working to reduce some degree programs to 120 units, evaluating various majors and deciding which of their requirements could be waived.

“Not all of our programs are 120,” Fallis said. “There are some that are more than that, for various reasons. But for the most part, we’re looking to have 120 units be the general requirement for a bachelor’s degree.”

Fallis added that each campus will determine its own numeric targets for increased graduation rates.

“The range is anything from preparing students before they get into university through early start and EAP, to greater advising when they are students to urging students who have much more units than they need in order to complete a bachelor’s program,” Fallis said. “[We’ll be] advising those students on what major on what they want to complete and then helping them completely it in timely.”

CSU Northridge has taken the most extreme route, pulling federal aid for students with over 150 credits, according to the Chronicle of Higher Education.

UC Office of the President spokesperson Lynn Tierney said the UC system is facing many of the same problems as the CSU system.

“With the state in such a terrible financial economic crisis, it’s very hard for the CSU system to absorb students,” Tierney said. “The whole state — community colleges, state colleges and University of California — they’re trying to absorb as many people as possible, so that they can get as many people in and educated as possible.”

She added that similar changes could be implemented within the UC system. The UC Board of Regents recently began reviewing a proposal to establish a three-year pathway, which might allow eligible students to waive certain general-education courses.

“When you’re in an economic crisis like this, nothing is off the table,” Tierney said. “We’re looking at everything. If we’re going to make a decision, [it] is going to be made much more based on the quality of the education we can deliver than the time we can deliver it in.”

Readers can contact Regina Ip at [email protected].

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