Frequently Asked Question

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What is the CSU Early Start Program?

The "Early Start" program in the CSU requires incoming first-time freshmen who do not demonstrate readiness for college-level math and/or English to begin remediation during the summer before coming to the CSU. The goals of Early Start are to better prepare students in math and English before their first semester, thereby improving their chances of completing a college degree.

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What are the CSU Early Start Details?

  • The program takes place the summer before the freshmen year.
  • Upon admission, CSU campuses will inform students who are not exempt, how and where to sign up for Early Start.
  • Early Start math and English courses will be available at every CSU campus and online.
  • Financial aid will be available for those who demonstrate need.
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Who must participate in the Early Start Program?

All students who do not fulfill requirement(s).


The following students will not be required to participate.

  • International students and residents of other states
  • Students participating in the an EOP Summer Bridge program
  • Students may appeal based on circumstances beyond their control
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How can CSU students fulfill the Early Start program requirement?

Freshmen are encouraged to complete their Early Start program activities at the CSU campus that admitted them if at all possible. This will afford them an opportunity to integrate into campus and will provide the smoothest transition to their fall English or math instruction.

Students may also participate in an Early Start program offered at any other CSU campus. This may be appropriate for non-local students. Some CSU campuses are planning to offer online course options as well.

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How will a student know he/she needs to be a part of the Early Start Program?

Campuses may develop different strategies for communicating with students about the Early Start requirement. In most cases, students will be officially informed of the obligation to participate in Early Start in a communication that will likely be sent after the Statement of Intent to Register (SIR) is filed at their destination campus. Students will be directed to the Early Start Smart Page to reveal where they plan to fulfill the Early Start requirement.

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How will students be directed to the Smart Page?

Students will be directed to the Smart Page separately or as a follow-up to filing the Statement of Intent to Register. A few campuses will direct students to the Smart Page as a routine way of notifying them about their testing and/or Early Start requirements. Email will be sent to students who need to participate in Early Start.

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How much will it cost?

Early Start Programs offered at any of the CSU campuses will have a common fee. The current fee estimate is $182 per unit and is subject to change based on approved fee increases. Campus parking and course instruction materials may also be charged.

California residents who apply for financial aid and have an Estimated Family Contribution of $5,000 or less will be eligible for a waiver of the per unit fee.

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How far away from a CSU campus or branch campus must a student be before he or she would be exempt from participating in Early Start?

A resident student's place of residence is not a system approved exemption. Students may fulfill their Early Start requirement by attending an appropriate course at any CSU campus. Moreover, there may be on-line opportunities in the CSU that would fulfill the requirement.

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If a student cannot find a program, would the Early Start requirement be waived?

As all campuses are participating and offering Early Start courses, it is most unlikely that a student would not be able to find a program.

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Are students enrolled in the Early Start Program eligible for financial aid?

Yes. Financial Aid support will be determined by the destination campus for students with an expected family contribution of $5K or less. Those who qualify will be eligible for an Early Start Program Waiver (ESPW). The campus of instruction will be funded from a central resource in the custody of the Chancellor's Office for each student with a waiver who enrolls in Early Start. No funding will be provided for enrollments in non-Early Start courses or for students who fail to participate. Students who qualify for financial aid after their Early Start experience is over will not be retroactively funded. The students' financial aid eligibility at the time of ESP enrollment will be determined for the ESPW. Early Start students eligible for this waiver may take more than one Early Start course in English and math and will continue to be covered by the waiver.

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What can high school juniors do to prepare?

Math and English skills are critical to success in college regardless of the intended major. Through the Early Assessment Program (EAP), California juniors have the opportunity to measure their English and math skills towards the end of the 11th grade. As a result, juniors are strongly encouraged to take the EAP test. Results are available at the beginning of the senior year and can be used to ensure students are using their senior year to become "college-ready" if they are not already. As students are planning their senior class schedules, it is important to know that a math course in the senior year is good for all students in preparing them for college success! And it is really essential for those interested in science based and technical majors (science, engineering, nursing, etc).

The best way to ensure success in college and to avoid spending the summer after high school graduation at a CSU is to be prepared in English and math!

For more information on the CSU EAP program, see the CSU English and Math Success web sites.

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What services are available for students with disabilities?

Students requiring reasonable accommodations to take part in the Early Start Program need to contact the office providing services to students with disabilities at the CSU campus they will attend in fall 2014. Students will be required to establish their eligibility for reasonable accommodations by providing appropriate disability documentation from a qualified treatment provider. Disability documentation must clearly describe the student's present functional limitations. Reasonable accommodations for the Early Start Program will be prescribed from the CSU campus from which the student will be attending.

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Where can I get more information?

For freshman application and admission requirements, see Freshmen Admission. For testing dates and registration procedures, see Testing Services. For financial aid application procedures and information, see Financial Aid.

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