SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS RADIO) – Despite a budget windfall that has opened up thousands more spaces at Cal State Universities, it turns out there aren't enough students to fill them.
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As a result, CSU officials are in the unusual spot of having to recruit applicants to come to some campuses.
The surplus of enrollment spots applies to previously overcrowded campuses like Cal State Eastbay, Chico and Monterey Bay. Meanwhile, San Jose State University remains impacted by over enrollment.
With its $1 billion budget surplus, the state gave CSUs enough money that it can open up another 10,000 seats next year.
However many students over the last couple of years have rethought their path to a career and are no longer knocking on the door to get in.
"Students just aren't coming to college," Roopika Risam, an associate professor at Dartmouth who's studying higher education, told KCBS Radio. "We are looking at missing over a million students who we would have expected to be coming to college this past year and certainly more in the coming year. Students are looking at the cost of higher education and are thinking, 'If I can go and get a job then I’m making money right away.' They're not looking at the long term benefits of having a bachelor’s degree or even an associates degree, they're looking at money in their pockets now."
The CSU system previously had to reject one in 10 qualified students because there wasn't enough room. However, now even feeder schools like community colleges are seeing enrollment shrivel as well.
Experts predict that it's likely we'll see those enrollment numbers swell again if the U.S. hits a recession, causing a lot of people going back to school.
"I think a recession would see enrollments going up because what's often happening with our unemployment rates being so low at the moment. (High school graduates are) seeing routes to jobs that are going to pay them and they're looking at the short term benefit of getting a paycheck," Risam said. "If we slide into a recession, we'll see people going back into higher education because that’s a better investment in their future."
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