UC and Cal State relax admissions criteria due to coronavirus: What you need to know

The University of California said Wednesday it would temporarily suspend some admissions requirements in response to educational disruptions from the coronavirus pandemic. Above, a student at UCLA after the university went to online classes earlier this month.
(Christina House / Los Angeles Times)

The University of California and California State University systems announced Wednesday a temporary easing of admissions requirements for applicants for fall 2020 and beyond, citing the wide disruptions to education faced by K-12 and community college students.

“Flexibility at this crucial time will ensure prospective students aiming for UC get a full and fair shot — no matter their current challenges,” UC president Janet Napolitano said in a statement.

“This is a very unique and challenging time for students and we want to make sure that if they had planned to be CSU-bound we do everything we can to help them reach that goal,” said Catherine Nelson, chair of Cal State’s systemwide Academic Senate.


With California schools closed for the remainder of the academic year, the switch to online learning is uneven and many students are without computers and internet access. Also, with college entrance and advanced placement exams canceled or altered, students, parents and academic counselors have wondered if and how work during the winter, spring and summer terms will be evaluated by admissions officers.

The admission requirement changes will affect high school and community college students who are planning to enter either of the four-year university systems in 2020 or 2021.

How will my grades for this semester be counted?

Both the UC and Cal State systems said they will accept marks of “pass” or “credit” instead of letter grades for any of the 15 “A-G” required high school courses completed during winter, spring or summer of 2020. Non-letter grades will not be included in GPA calculations.

Cal State said that it would consider admissions exceptions on a case-by-case basis for fall 2020 students who are unable to complete all of the course requirements due to disruptions from the pandemic.

What if I can’t take the SAT or ACT?

The UC is eliminating the testing requirement for students planning to enter as freshmen in fall 2021. Students can still take the exams and submit scores if they are able.

Cal State, which uses just two criteria to establish students’ eligibility for admission — their SAT or ACT score and their GPA — is evaluating its options for modifying the admissions process for 2021 and will soon announce a final decision.

Will my AP classes be accepted?

Yes. Although the College Board is modifying this year’s Advanced Placement exams, both Cal State and UC will continue to award credit consistent with their existing policies for courses that students pass with a score of 3 or better.

What happens if I can’t get an official transcript from my school in time?

You will not be penalized. While the UC and CSU are still asking students to submit official transcripts by July 1 and July 15, respectively, no student’s offer of admission will be rescinded if that deadline is not met.

UC students will have until the first day of classes to submit transcripts and Cal State will accept them through the fall term.

If I’m a transfer student and don’t receive grades or can’t complete all of my required courses, can I still be admitted to Cal State or UC?

Yes, with some caveats depending on where you plan to enroll. UC will temporarily suspend its cap on pass/no pass units for classes taken in winter, spring or summer 2020. CSU will accept “pass” or “credit” grades for required courses taken in any of those academic terms and reduce the number of transferable units students must complete to enroll to 48 for the semester system and 72 for the quarter system.

Additionally, individual Cal State campuses have the discretion to allow students to defer their fall 2020 admission to winter or spring 2021 if they wish to continue at community college to finish their transfer requirements.

What if I need more time to decide whether to accept an offer of admission?

The UC deadline for submitting your statement of intent to register is still May 1 for freshmen and June 1 for transfers, but students and schools will not face consequences if they are not met. Also, students will not be required to submit a nonrefundable deposit by May 1 if they are unable to do so. Students should contact their individual campus admissions offices if they need additional time or a deferment of a deposit.

At Cal State, each campus is handling its intent to register deadline individually. You will need to check with your university’s admissions office.

Will the relaxed requirements affect my financial aid?

According to the guidance put out by Cal State, students will remain conditionally admitted until their campus receives and reviews an official final transcript. This should not impede the awarding of federal financial aid for fall 2020.


UC campuses will work with families over the summer to review their eligibility for financial aid. If your family’s financial situation has changed or may change, contact your campus financial aid office.