Cal Poly Pomona is giving accepted students more time to make deposits. (Photo courtesy of EdSource)

Students accepted at eight of the 23 campuses of the California State University system will have an extra month to send in enrollment deposits. The deadlines were extended from May 1 to June 1 in response to students who need extra time to choose universities during the coronavirus pandemic and because the campuses wanted to preserve enrollments for the 2020-21 school year.

“We understand this is a very stressful time for students. So we wanted to lessen the stress for them and give them a little more time to make such an important decision,” Jessica Wagoner, Cal Poly Pomona’s senior associate vice president of enrollment management and services, told EdSource.

She and administrators at other campuses cited the difficult switch to online high school classes for many of the students as well as the financial problems their families may be experiencing because of the pandemic.

In allowing an extra month for accepted freshmen to commit to the schools, Cal Poly Pomona is joined by CSU’s Channel Islands, Chico, Dominguez Hills, Humboldt, San Bernardino, San Francisco and San Marcos campuses. In addition, CSU’s Maritime Academy, a relatively small school specializing in oceanography and navigation in Stockton, says it will allow deadline flexibility if students request it.

So far, the other 14 CSU campuses are sticking with May 1 for the deposits, which range from $100 to $250. However, some may change the dates if enrollment numbers are falling short or enough students seek delays.

Cal State Long Beach, for example, has told applicants on its website that: “The intent to enroll deadline for CSULB remains at May 1st as of now. We are continually monitoring to determine if the deadline needs to be extended. As we approach May 1, we will keep the campus community and external constituents informed should we extend to a later date.”

Many students and high school counselors have said all of California’s public universities should postpone enrollment commitment deadlines across the board. Families facing unemployment need more time to seek extra financial aid and to weigh which campuses are most affordable and academically desirable. Meanwhile, some colleges worry that students may avoid schools far from home next year or delay their education because of health concerns.

The nine undergraduate University of California campuses are keeping to their May 1 deposit deadlines. Deadlines for transfer students at CSU will remain mainly June 1.

About 330 colleges and universities across the nation have reported that they have extended deposit deadlines, usually to June 1, according to a survey by the National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC). In California, those include several private campuses, such as Whittier College, Woodbury University, Mills College and Cal Lutheran University. But 487 of those surveyed said they would not, including UCLA, USC, Cal State Fullerton and Pepperdine University.

At Cal Poly Pomona, a campus with a strong tradition in science and engineering, Wagoner said admissions officers will be holding online forums with groups of admitted students as well as being available for email and small online chats. “We want to be engaged with students but now we have to use a different modality,” she said.

That campus received 38,000 applications for freshman admission and sent out 22,700 acceptances, with the expectations of enrolling an entering class of about 3,500 to 3,800, she said. The campus also maintains what she said was a “robust” waiting list to offer admission to some if openings become available.

Wagoner said she expects a slight decline in California students enrolling at the campus, which is within commuting distance of a wide swath of Southern California’s immense population, but not as much of a drop in enrollment as other universities may expect in Northern California. She said she expects a more significant loss of potential students and upperclassmen from other states and particularly international students, who may have gone back to their home countries during the health crisis and will be unable or unwilling to travel back to California. International students comprised a small fraction of the current freshman class and are more highly represented among graduate students.

Asked whether Cal Poly Pomona will offer admissions to more California students if international students decline, she said: “We are having those discussions right now.”

Cal State Stanislaus, in a statement on its admissions website, said it will not push back the deposit deadline and emphasized that all acceptance letters and financial aid awards will be sent out by April 1. “We have also done a lot of work in the community to ensure that students, parents, HS Counselors, and CCC Counselors are aware of the May deadline and feel that keeping the deadline will allow students to begin planning for the fall 2020 semester,” the school said.

Story originally published by EdSource.

Larry Gordon