Report on Higher Education 2022

Spotlight: California State University System

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Julio Martinez

Julio Martinez

Executive Director,
Investment Board

Message from the Executive Director

There are nearly 6 million K-12 students in California.1 There are over 2.6 million undergrad and grad students.2 With close to 9 million students in total, no other state plays as large a role educating American citizens as the Golden State.

It’s an enormous responsibility—one California takes seriously— which is why the good people at ScholarShare 529 work hard to provide every opportunity for your kids to afford the benefits of a California education.

Our investment in education is growing. As of September 2022, there were 385,248 ScholarShare 529 accounts with a total value of $10.9 billion assets under management. That’s a 4.8% increase in the number accounts over the previous year.

Our colleges and universities create greater opportunities for the next generation of Californians. That’s why I spotlight the California State University System in this year’s Report on Higher Education.

Thanks for supporting us in our efforts to make higher education accessible to everyone.

Leading the Way

California educates nearly one-eighth of all public-school students in the U.S.3 With over 24,000 programs and innovative initiatives to address inequities, no other state is doing as much to support the unique needs of today’s students.4

California’s Higher Education System

California’s higher education system has three public segments: California Community Colleges (CCC), the University of California (UC) and California State University (CSU). For 2021–22, there were 737 active colleges and universities—192 public and 545 private—with 2,686,441 undergrad and grad students. Nine colleges offer all programs online, 53 have ROTC and 193 offer study abroad programs. California’s higher ed system is also comprised of 80 independent colleges and universities.5

The California State University logo

CSU is the largest four-year public university system in America, offering bachelor’s degrees in various majors as well as doctoral and master’s programs. There are 23 campuses and eight off-campus centers across the state, with over 477,000 students.6

California Community Colleges logo

CCC consists of 116 colleges with 1.8 million students.7 Each college offers various educational programs that reflect the character of the region. CCC offers students opportunities for personal growth and professional training, from an associate degree to university transfer. Most CCC also offer distance education by radio and video, off-campus classes in facilities and study abroad.

University of California logo

The UC system has ten undergrad campuses offering bachelor’s, master’s, Ph.D. and professional degrees. UC has more than 280,000 students currently enrolled, employs 227,000 faculty and staff, and has 2 million alumni living and working worldwide.8

Association of Independent California Colleges and Universities logo

The Association of Independent California Colleges and Universities (AICCU) comprises 80 nonprofit universities, making up the Independent California Colleges and Universities (ICCU) sector. The ICCU awards 18% of all bachelor’s degrees and 52% of all graduate degrees, making them the largest preparers of California’s advanced workforce.9

Transforming Education

Five examples of how the nation’s largest university system—the California State University system—is improving education.

Higher education for all

CSU educates the most ethnically, economically and academically diverse student body in the nation—half the students are underrepresented minorities. CSU also provides more than half of all undergraduate degrees earned by California’s Latinx, African American, and Native American students combined.10

Bridging the digital divide

To address tech equity gaps along racial, ethnic and socioeconomic lines, CSU launched the CSU Connectivity Contributing to Equity and Student Success (CSUCCESS) program. The initiative provides a Wi-Fi connectivity package with its free technology distribution program to enhance student achievement and create equitable opportunities. During 2021–22, 14 campuses deployed over 29,000 computing devices and mobile broadband hotspots.11

An engine of social mobility

A CSU degree addresses declining levels of economic mobility. CollegeNET’s Social Mobility Index (SMI) once again placed CSU as a top performer in economic mobility, highlighting the transformative power of the California educational system to propel alumni and their families into higher economic strata. CSU campuses claimed 50% of the top 20 spots in this year’s rankings, with six campuses in the top ten.12

Affordable education

The average tuition and fees for California colleges are $3,021 for residents and $12,666 for non-residents, making CSU one of the most affordable colleges in the nation.13

CA Undergraduate Resident Tuition Costs

These tuition costs represent the published tuition cost of attending one year of college as a full-time student at each respective institution. Total costs vary depending on expenses and campus you attend.

  CCC14 CSU15 UC16
2021-2022 $1,104 $5,742 $12,570
2022-2023 $1,104 $5,742 $13,104

Next-generation problem solvers

For over 75 years, the Fulbright Program has provided 400,000 participants—chosen for their academic merit and leadership potential—the opportunity to exchange ideas and find solutions to challenges facing our world. Four CSU campuses are top producers of Fulbright Scholars for 2021-22.17 All that to say, CSU students are educated to tackle the challenges of tomorrow—climate change, aid for those with disabilities, fire prevention, ocean conservation, earthquakes, etc.

CSU Callouts

While each of the 23 CSU campuses is one-of-a-kind, they share a common focus on student support and success, affordability and multiculturalism. Here’s a sample of the diverse offerings.

Performing Arts

CSU, Long Beach

For students interested in the performing arts, Long Beach offers theatre arts and dance. High school seniors interested in the theatre program don’t need to audition, but they are required to audition as college sophomores to gain entrance to the Bachelor of Fine Arts program in acting. CSULB’s central location provides performance opportunities on- and off-campus. The campus also focuses on sustainability, striving for zero waste, and following strategic energy and water action plans.

Business and Economics

CSU, Fullerton

The College of Business and Economics at Fullerton is an Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB)-accredited institution in accounting and business. The campus’s central location in Orange County is another draw for students interested in business. Cal State Fullerton students can study at Mihaylo Hall, which was built by implementing environmental sustainability practices and cutting-edge technology. The school also offers programs focusing on the success of women in business through mentorships (i.e., The Women’s Leadership Program, The Titan Women Collective).

Film and Television

CSU, Northridge

For students interested in film and television, the CSUN Mike Curb College of Arts, Media, and Communication is a great fit. The Department of Cinema and Television Arts (CTVA) offers internship opportunities and resources for students excited to engage with the local entertainment community. CSUN’s CTVA earned spot #17 on The Wrap’s Top 50 film schools.18

Environmental Studies

Cal Poly Humboldt

Built alongside the redwoods of Northern California and five miles from the Pacific Ocean, the Cal Poly Humboldt campus is set in a unique location for students interested in studying the environment. Many of Humboldt’s strongest programs are housed within the school’s College of Natural Resources and Sciences.

Viticulture and Enology

CSU, Fresno

For students interested in the world of winemaking, Cal State Fresno has a robust viticulture and enology program. Students can connect with alumni by becoming members of the Viticulture Club or the Enology Society. Additionally, Sonoma State has a Wine Business Institute housed under the umbrella of their School of Business and Economics.


Cal Poly Pomona

The College of Engineering at Cal Poly Pomona is one of the nation’s top-ranking engineering programs, graduating over 1,200 engineers every year. Pomona also has a Pride Center that provides a safe space for LGBTQIA students. Part of its mission is to serve the campus community by promoting empowerment and social justice on topics of sexual orientation and gender identity.

Tailored for Autism Spectrum Disorder

CSU, East Bay

CSU East Bay has an application-based College Link Program (CLP) that provides tailored support and resources for students with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). The goal of the CLP is to increase student independence and success by providing support for the development of skills in academics, social life, career preparation and independent living.

Marine Science

CSU Monterey Bay

CSU, Monterey Bay’s (CSUMB) location by the sea goes together with its stellar Marine Science department. The department offers opportunities like Marine Science Research and the Research Diving Program. CSUMB is the only CSU campus adjacent to a living ocean laboratory, making it rich with relevant resources for up-and-coming marine scientists.

In the News

The record-breaking number of applications the University of California received this past fall is one of the many examples why the California State University System has been in the news.19

Here are a few highlights:

CA education system honored

The Education Commission of the States awarded California the 2022 Frank Newman Award for State Innovation "in recognition of its coordinated approach to educating all students from preschool to postsecondary, with explicit attention toward whole-child supports and services, as well as its historic financial investments to ensure educational equity."20

CSU eliminates standardized tests

CSU Trustees agreed on March 23, 2022 to drop SAT and ACT standardized tests in its admissions process, solidifying the state’s national role in eliminating the exams because of equity concerns. The decision came after the UC system made the bold decision in 2020 to drop the exams, triggering a national debate over whether the tests unfairly discriminate.21

FAFSA completion rates up

The National College Attainment Network (NCAN) released its report on FAFSA completions for the 2022 academic year. A 4.6% increase in applications for federal student aid shows that a slow recovery from COVID-19 is occurring in higher education. California’s FAFSA completion rate is 53%, a 6.5% increase that reverses a downward trend over the past two years.22

Students earn $10K for service

Gov. Newsom announced on January 18, 2022 that 45 colleges and universities will be part of a new public service program that subsidizes tuition for students who do community service. In exchange for 450 hours of service, the California College Corps gives students $10,000 toward their education. They may also earn academic credit for their work. The program called #CaliforniansForAll College Corps launched in the fall with 6,500 students.23

Making education affordable

"California’s Local Control Funding Formula, recognized as one of the nation’s most equitable formulas, distributes funding to the schools with the greatest needs and gives more flexibility to districts to respond to local challenges and opportunities."24 Recently, the State launched one of its largest ever efforts to make four-year college affordable, pouring $1 billion into expanded Cal Grants, middle-class scholarships and more affordable student housing.25

50 years of equity

Title IX, part of the education amendment act of 1972 barring sex discrimination at schools, turned 50 on June 23, 2022.26 In the pre-Title IX era, 15% of college athletes were women. Today, 44% of the opportunities to play sports go to women. Since the introduction of Title IX, 3 million more high school girls and 200,000 more college women have opportunities to play sports each year.27

529 tuition payments go digital

Flywire, a global payments enablement and software company, and Ascensus, whose technology helps ScholarShare 529 account owners save for education, announced a partnership to digitize tuition payments from 529 college savings plans to higher education institutions.28 Families saving in a 529 plan on the Ascensus platform can leverage Flywire to disburse funds to pay tuition-related expenses directly to the school from their 529 account.

California’s Collegebound Kids

California is proud to announce the launch of the California Kids Investment and Development Savings Program (CalKIDS).

CalKIDS, the nation’s largest Children’s Savings Account program, launched in 2022 and jumpstarted college savings for over 3.5 million children statewide. Enacted in the 2019–20 State Budget, CalKIDS expands access to higher education through savings with tools like ScholarShare 529.29

CalKIDS helps children in California get access to higher education, especially those from underserved communities. Enrollment in CalKIDS is automatic. Eligible beneficiaries are identified by the California Department of Public Health and the California Department of Education. No action or financial commitment is required of families to participate.

Education is the gateway to opportunity for all California kids.

Gavin Newsom

Governor of California

Eligible children include:


Children born in California on or after July 1, 2022, receive up to $100 in college savings.

  • $25 seed deposit in a CalKIDS account
  • $25 deposit when the account owner registers on the CalKIDS online portal
  • $50 when the account owner links a new or existing ScholarShare 529 account to their CalKIDS account


Low-income public-school students, 1st through 12th grade, receive up to $1,500 in college savings.

  • $500 for eligible low-income public-school students
  • $500 for eligible students identified as foster youth
  • $500 for eligible students identified as homeless
CalKIDS The first step towards college

The investments provided in CalKIDS accounts can be a steppingstone to build new savings behavior for families and serve as a tangible demonstration of California’s commitment to supporting children in reaching the goal of higher education.

Each CalKIDS account is seeded with a minimum deposit held in the ScholarShare 529 college savings plan or another investment mechanism in which money can potentially grow and eventually be used for a range of qualified expenses.

For more information, visit

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Your State Representative

Your State Representative ScholarShare 529 College Savings Plan provides account owners with contact information for their state legislators annually, as required by law. If you’d like to contact your state representative about your ScholarShare 529 account, visit to find the appropriate address and phone number, or contact our office at 916-651-6380.

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