California State University

CSU system enrollment declined by over 6% from 2019 to 2023, report says

NBC Universal, Inc.

A new report on the California State University system found enrollment declined by over 6% from 2019 to 2023, which indicates it still has not recovered from the pandemic.

Some of the CSU campuses in the Bay Area are impacted, but are seeing some promising signs.

San Francisco State University has seen enrollment drop about 20% since 2019.

"We are sizably smaller than we used to be and at first we attributed it to the pandemic," SFSU President Lynn Mahoney said.

Mahoney said the fall of 2020 saw a drop off when the campus went remote. The next years were partially back and then community college transfer enrollments declined.

SFSU officials point to a combination of things leading to the enrollment decline: Demographics across the state, cost of living, and many students now choosing to stay closer to home.

In addition, there are fewer international students.

Sonoma State University and California State University, East Bay also saw enrollment declines during the time period studied by the Campaign for College Opportunity. But both campuses see a change on the horizon.

In a statement, Cal State East Bay said in part it "has a collective and coordinated response to the nationwide trend of enrollment decline due to demographic shifts, low community college enrollments and lingering effects of the pandemic. Fortunately, we have stopped the rapid decline this year and see healthier application numbers for fall 2024."

Sonoma State's president in a statement said, in part, "enrollment declines have stopped and are turning around thanks to strengthening our enrollment management processes and our pipelines with high schools and community colleges."

Meanwhile, San Francisco State also believes it has taken steps that will make a difference.

Contact Us