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Early Start Program

Cal State Northridge Welcomes You to Early Start

The California State University (CSU) system recently enacted a policy known as "Early Start," requiring incoming first-time freshmen who do not demonstrate readiness for college-level math and/or writing to begin remediation during the summer before enrolling in the CSU. The goals of Early Start are to better prepare students in math and writing before their first semester and thereby improve their chances of completing a college degree.

Unless exempt, you must attend the CSU Early Start Program in summer 2015 in order to enroll in fall 2015 classes at your destination campus (i.e., the campus you will attend in the fall term). Learn more about the CSU system-wide program and find a course list at CSU Success.

Program Participation

To find out if you need to take CSU Early Start, log into the CSU Smart Page, as explained at How to Enroll in Early Start. The CSU Smart Page for CSUN will be available from April 7 through July 6, 2015.

Students deemed in need of remediation in either English or math or both will be required to participate in Early Start.

Early Start Exemptions

The following students will not be required to participate in the CSUN Early Start Program:

  • Students who are deemed ready for college-level English and/or math courses based on any one or more of their test scores listed below:
    —Advanced Placement (AP) English and/or math scores
    —Early Assessment Program (EAP) scores
    —EPT and/or ELM test scores (learn more at EPT and ELM FAQs)
    —SAT or ACT scores
  • Students who are deemed conditionally ready for college-level English and/or math courses based on EAP, SAT or ACT and who satisfy the condition by completion of an applicable senior year course in English and/or math.
  • International students
  • Residents of other states
  • Students participating in the CSUN EOP Summer Bridge program
  • Students who qualify for admission through the CSUN EOP Program
  • Students enrolled in CSUN's MARC/MBRS Math and Language Arts Summer Enrichment Program
  • Students enrolled in CSUN's Student Athlete Summer Success Program
  • Students admitted to CSUN after June 29, 2015

If you are required to take the EPT and/or ELM, your scores will determine whether or not you need to participate in the CSU Early Start Program:

  • Writing: You must participate in Early Start if your EPT score is less than 147.
  • Math: You must participate in Early Start if your ELM score is less than 50.

Services for Students with Disabilities: Students who believe they should be exempted from the Early Start requirement on the basis of a disability need to contact Cal State Northridge Disabilities Resources and Educational Services (DRES) or the National Center on Deafness (NCOD).


Fees, Financial Aid & Refunds

Early Start courses offered at any of the CSU campuses will have the same fee rate. The current fee estimate is $182 per semester unit and is subject to change based on approved fee increases. An additional campus fee of $2.00 ($1 each for Health Facilities and Student Union) at any CSU campus is also required. Campus parking and course instruction materials may also be charged.

Early Start fee waivers will be available for those demonstrating need. California residents who apply for financial aid by March 2, 2015 and have an Estimated Family Contribution (EFC) of $5,000 or less may be eligible for a fee waiver for any course meeting Early Start Program requirements.

Financial Aid
2015-2016 Federal and California Financial Aid application period beginsJanuary 1, 2015
Priority consideration given to those who file FAFSA byMarch 2, 2015
Document deadline for on-time Fall 2015 financial aidJune 1

Find more CSUN Financial Aid Information.

Important: Refunds will not be granted for withdrawal from Early Start classes once they have begun. It is the student’s responsibility to verify placement and exemptions on the CSU SmartPage before class(es) start. Exemptions received after Early Start classes begin do not qualify the student for withdrawal or refund. 


If at all possible, you are strongly encouraged to complete the Early Start Program with the CSU campus you'll attend in the fall. By taking Early Start classes at your destination campus, you'll meet professors and other students, connect to the campus community, and transition more smoothly to your fall term math and writing courses.

1. CSUN’s Early Start program consists of the following courses:

  • Early Start Writing (ESW): Offered online only as a 1-unit, 3-week intensive learning experience
  • Early Start Math (ESM): Offered online and face-to-face. Options include either a 1-unit course lasting 3, 6 or 8 weeks; or a 3-unit course lasting 6 weeks.
    For students who will attend CSUN in the fall: You are encouraged to enroll in a 6-week, face-to-face ESM option, either 1 or 3 units. Students with ELM scores ranging from 34-48 who are majoring in the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences and select majors in the College of Health and Human Development are strongly encouraged to enroll in ESM 96S. You should consult an academic advisor if you have questions about the best Early Start Math choice for your major.

You can browse the Early Start classes offered by CSUN in Class Search.

2. The earliest CSUN Early Start writing and math courses begin June 8, and the last courses end July 31, 2015.

3. Students may also participate in the Early Start program offered at any other CSU campus. This may be appropriate for non-local students. Many CSU campuses are offering online course options as well.

To search for class options at CSUN and other CSU campuses, go to CSU Early Start courses and dates.

How to Enroll in Early Start

To enroll in the CSU Early Start Program:

  1. Take the EPT/ELM tests no later than the May 2, 2015 test date. Because demand is heavy and seating is limited, we recommend signing up for an earlier test date. Please see:

    EPT/ELM test dates  AND  EPT/ELM test registration
  2. Go to the CSU Smart Page link, located in the student Web Portal of the CSU campus to which you've been admitted. If you've been admitted to CSUN, log into myNorthridge at, locate My Checklist and select the CSU Smart Page link.
  3. Review your CSU Smart Page to:
    —Find out if you need to participate in Early Start
    —Find out if you qualify for an Early Start fee waiver based on your FAFSA information
    Indicate the location where you will take Early Start math and/or writing classes. This action will initiate your access to enrollment in Early Start classes. You are strongly encouraged to take Early Start classes with the CSU campus you will attend in in the fall term.

    Note: CSUN students must declare their plans to fulfill the Early Start math and/or writing remediation requirements using the CSU Smart Page no later than July 6, 2015.
  4. Once you've completed the CSU Smart Page, you will receive Early Start course enrollment information from the CSU campus you selected. Be sure to complete the CSU Smart Page before enrolling in Early Start classes.
  5. If you plan to take Early Start at CSUN, you may enroll in classes starting April 8, 2015. The last day to enroll in CSUN Early Start classes is July 12.

For help, see the How To Guide Enroll in "Early Start" at Cal State Northridge.

Key Dates

The chart below lists important dates for the Summer 2015 CSU Early Start Program at Cal State Northridge (CSUN) and for enrollment in the Fall 2015 semester.

Summer and Fall 2015 at CSUN
Earliest possible date to register in Fall 2015 classes with your advisor.*April 7, 2015
Earliest possible date to log into the CSU Smart PageApril 7
Earliest possible date to enroll in CSUN Early Start coursesApril 8
Last day to file Intent to Register for Fall 2015May 1
Last day to take EPT/ELM tests **May 2
EPT/ELM scores received by CSUNAbout 3 weeks after the test date
First CSUN Early Start math and writing courses beginJune 8
Deadline to complete the CSU Smart PageJuly 6
Last day to enroll in Early Start courses at CSUNJuly 12
Deadline to complete CSUN Early Start coursesJuly 31
Send final official high school transcript to CSUN for receipt byAugust 14

Make an appointment with an academic advisor in the College of your major or ARC/EOP if undecided. See Academic Advisement.

**Because of heavy demand and limited seating, you should sign up for the EPT/ELM tests much earlier than the May deadline. View earlier test dates at English Placement Test (EPT) and Entry Level Math Test (ELM).