LONG BEACH — Student enrollment at California State University has reached a record 388,734 students this year, due in part to a slowing state economy, the chancellor said Thursday.
The record enrollment reflects an increase of more than 20,000 students, or 5.5 percent, for the 2001 fall semester over last year.
With the children of baby boomers reaching college age and the growing demand by high school students for a college education, the postsecondary education commission estimated an additional 130,000 students would enter the university system by the 2010.
But with the state’s slowing economy sending people back to college, Chancellor Charles B. Reed said the tidal wave predicted by the commission has arrived early.
“The tidal wave is not simply out on the horizon,” he said. “It has already washed over our beaches.”
The news of the enrollment boom comes weeks after Reed told the 23-campus system’s board of trustees that Gov. Gray Davis’ projection of up to a $14 billion state budget deficit meant the CSU would have to cut its budget and should begin looking for ways to cut costs. Reed estimates the state’s economic downturn could last up to three years.
“During the coming months, we will be working with the CSU presidents to set enrollment targets that both provide access for eligible students and take into account budgetary restraints,” he said.
CSU’s enrollment survey found 19 of its 23 campuses reported increases. San Diego State topped the list with 34,171 students.
The chancellor has given permission to several of the system’s hardest hit campuses to set enrollment guidelines, including giving priority to students who live in the area.
For more than four years, trustees have taken steps to prepare for the latest influx of students, dubbed “Tidal Wave II.”
CSU tightened its enrollment requirements for high school students and aligned its entrance requirements with the University of California. It also expanded its summer school and online class offerings.