What is the CSU Early Start program?

The "Early Start" program serves CSU admitted  incoming first-time freshmen requiring skills development in written communication  and /or mathematics/quantitative reasoning. 

The goals of Early Start are to better prepare students in written communication and math/quantitative reasoning before their first semester, thereby improving their chances of successful completion of a baccalaureate degree.

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 English and math courses will be available at every CSU campus, at a few community colleges, and online.
  • Financial aid will be available for those who demonstrate need.

Who must participate in the Early Start program?

All incoming first-time freshmen who do not demonstrate proficiency in written communication and /or mathematics/quantitative reasoning as determined by systemwide placement standards.  

Exemptions: 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.

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.
  • Students may wish to take an approved course at their local community college. Be aware that space in traditional English and math developmental courses may be very limited at many community colleges.

What can high school juniors do to prepare?

English and math skills are critical to success in college regardless of the intended major. Through the CAASPP EAP, California juniors have the opportunity to measure their English and math skills towards the end of the 11th grade. Results are available to students by mid- August or earlier. This allows for students to use the senior year to become 'college ready'. As students are planning their senior class schedules, it is important to know that a math course in the senior year is good preparation for all students, especially 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 before you enroll!

For more information on the CSU EAP, visit the CSU English and Math Success Web sites:

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.

The CSU makes every effort to keep student costs to a minimum. Fees listed in published schedules or student accounts may need to be increased when public funding is inadequate. Therefore, CSU must reserve the right, even after initial fee payments are made, to increase or modify any listed fees, without notice, until the date when instruction for a particular semester or quarter has begun. All CSU listed fees should be regarded as estimates that are subject to change upon approval by The Board of Trustees.

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. 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.