Campus Budget News

Enrollment FAQ Spring 2012

January 30, 2012 / UPDATED February 23, 2012

This special FAQ addresses questions and concerns related to 2012 spring enrollment. Visit the original student FAQs page.

* UPDATED 2/23/2012:

* Many of the class enrollment difficulties faced by students in Spring 2012 and covered by the FAQs below have been addressed by the University.

* For a detailed explanation of this issue, including how these issues were addressed and information on how the University will avoid similar problems in academic year 2012-13, go to the Summary of Spring 2012 Enrollment Issues that was distributed to faculty and staff by Acting Administrator of Academic Affairs William Watkins and Vice Provost Cynthia Rawitch on February 23, 2012.

The FAQs below provide additional historical context for this issue.

Q: Why are so many students not able to add the classes they need?

The California State University (CSU) has received significantly less funding over the last several years, and this has impacted our campus directly. The full answer as to how this impacts class availability is complicated, but the bottom line is that California State University, Northridge (CSUN) has more students than it is funded to serve. Specifically, CSUN is currently serving approximately 7% more students than the enrollment target assigned to this campus.

The CSU system sets an enrollment target for the total number of full-time equivalent students that can be served by all 23 CSU campuses. Additionally, the CSU system sets enrollment targets for each individual campus and funds the campus for this number of students. When campuses exceed their enrollment target, they incur a penalty. CSUN has exceeded its enrollment target this year, and as a result could incur a penalty of as much as $7-8 million. This is in addition to the millions of dollars our budget has been reduced over the past several years. By limiting seats in classes this semester, we are working toward aligning our enrollment numbers within our existing budget and the enrollment targets set for our campus by the CSU system.

Q: What can students do?

Graduating seniors should work with their department chairs to obtain information about getting into courses they need. Students should seek out classes that have openings, or where openings are created by students dropping the class during the initial weeks of the semester. Except in the case of graduating seniors, it is unfortunately the case that some students will not find a full load of needed classes.

We encourage students to remain enrolled and take as many units as can be earned. Some students may choose to “stop-out” for a semester and return next fall. Students who chose not to enroll for one semester typically are eligible to re-enroll the following semester without reapplying. Students who withdraw from classes in a timely manner may be eligible for a fee refund as posted at

Q: How does this impact my financial aid?

To receive full financial aid, an undergraduate student must be enrolled in a minimum of 12 units (graduate students must be enrolled in 9 units). Enrollment in fewer units can have an impact on the amount of aid for which a student is eligible depending on the type of aid received. Students receiving financial aid who are unable to enroll in a full load of courses should contact a financial aid advisor at (818) 677-4085 for assistance.

Q: If I “stop out” this semester, how does this inform my registration next semester?

Students in good standing who choose to stop out this semester will be routinely eligible to re-enroll next fall. No special action is required. Students who have been placed on academic probation, or are on any other academic performance agreement, should contact their advisor to determine the impact of not enrolling during this spring term.

Q: How does this impact my student housing?

Students residing in on-campus housing are required to be enrolled full-time. Students who are not able to satisfy that requirement under present conditions should contact Natalia Figueroa at (818) 677-2160 for assistance in filing an appeal to this requirement.

Q: How does this impact my veteran benefits?

Students receiving veteran benefits must be enrolled full-time to receive full veteran benefits. Students unable to enroll in 12 units should contact the CSUN Office of Veterans Affairs at (818) 677-5928 or via email at to discuss options and the impact of less than full-time enrollment on their benefits.

Q: What else can I do to advocate for myself and other students?

For the longer term, what is playing out here on campus is a reflection of the larger budget crisis in the state of California. The University advocates for public higher education and CSUN students at the state and federal levels, but we can’t do it alone. Please reach out to your legislators to share your stories, so that they understand how their decisions impact you and your families. You can find out who represents you and how to contact them by following this link.

In addition, we will be setting up a system for you to share your stories about how the current California budget situation has affected your experience at CSUN. These stories will be shared with the state legislature. Stay tuned for more information.

Q: What is the university doing to help us?

Faculty have made every effort to be responsive to students’ needs and have added students to classes wherever possible. However, with the potential loss of $7-8 million in funding, we simply cannot maintain the same level of course offerings we had last fall.

As soon as we were aware that a cap on unit load for students would again be necessary to avoid over-enrollment penalties, we communicated with students, encouraging them to choose their courses wisely and make every unit count towards their degree. We put in place safeguards to help seniors get the credits they need to graduate. We have continued to communicate with the CSU system the concerns and frustrations of our students. We have also made a number of recommendations that would result in a larger enrollment target for next year.