Chico State sees drop in new students and transfers despite growing total enrollment across CSU


Kimberly Morales

Meriam Library on Sept 2 2020.

Chico State has seen a small decrease in total enrollment for the fall semester — but a nearly 10% drop in first-time freshmen and a 5% decline in transfers — despite an overall increase in enrollment throughout the 23-campus California State University system. 

Chico State reported a 2.3% decrease in total enrollment for the Fall 2020 semester with a total headcount of 16,630 students. There was a 3.5% decrease in full-time students, according to Sean Murphy, Chico State media relations coordinator. 

“Application volume at the start of the admissions cycle was lower than the previous year,” Murphy said. “This rebounded somewhat through the admissions cycle, but net result was lower enrolled new students. We did end up above targets for new and continuing students so the overall picture is positive from that perspective.”

Chico State also saw a 9% decrease in new students, which includes a 9.6% drop in first-time freshmen and a 5.1% decrease in transfer students. The numbers for graduate students is still undetermined. 

“Our community college partners continue to see declining enrollment, which has a ripple effect on our transfer student numbers,” Murphy said. “There is more competition for California students so this is causing some enrollment losses. The COVID-19 pandemic also caused some additional fluctuation in both new and continuing student enrollment.”

The CSU Office of the Chancellor announced Monday that the CSU system enrolled more students for the fall semester than ever before, reaching a total of 485,549 students. For the 2019 fall semester, the CSU enrolled 481,929 and before that, the record for the most enrolled students for the fall was in 2017 at 484,297 students. 

“The record enrollment of 485,549 students reflects the confidence that state residents have in the California State University,” said CSU Chancellor Timothy P. White in a press release. “I commend the creativity and hard work of our faculty and staff who implemented innovative ways to carry on our tradition of inclusive academic excellence, despite the current pandemic and necessary transition to virtual instruction.” 

Campuses that were noted to have seen higher enrollment included Fresno State, Sacramento State and CSU Bakersfield, according to the press release. 

Aside from enrollment, the Office of the Chancellor also highlighted that the overall CSU retention rate for first-year students hit 85.5% this year, breaking another milestone for the system. 

Chico State’s retention rate for first year students sits at 83.7 percent, almost matching the system’s overall number. 

Kimberly Morales can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter @kimberlymnews.