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Colorado State University was built on the belief that anyone who wants a university education should feel empowered to get one. We want your big ideas and dreams to come to life, no matter your background.  

Your freshman application is a record of all the hard work you’ve put in so far, as well as a testament to what you still plan to do. Our hope is to learn more about who you are and how you’ll contribute to the Colorado State University community. Each year, we search for applicants with diverse backgrounds, skills, and perspectives to challenge and support one another on campus.

If you have questions before or during the application process, your admissions counselor is ready to help!

Who's a domestic freshman?

Apply as a domestic freshman if 1) you are a U.S. citizen, permanent resident, or undocumented and 2) you’ve never attended college, or all your college credits were earned prior to high school graduation.

When to apply

The best dates to apply for admission are based on the semester you want to start at CSU. The application opens August 1 each year for the following year’s semesters.

Freshman students typically start during the fall semester.

Early action date (non-binding)
Submit a complete application file by December 1 to receive full admission consideration and automatic scholarship review by December 31. This date is non-binding, which means you don’t have to commit to CSU if you are accepted.

Regular decision date
Submit a complete application file by February 1 to receive full admission consideration and automatic scholarship review by February 28. After this date, applications for admission are considered on a rolling basis.

While less common, some freshmen start in the spring semester.

Regular decision date
Submit a complete application file by November 1 for full admission consideration and automatic scholarship review. After this date, applications for admission are considered on a rolling basis.

Starting in the summer session isn’t recommended for most freshmen, though it is essential for a small portion of students. Contact your admissions counselor for information and recommended dates to apply.

What we need

A complete application file consists of the Common App, which you will submit online, and the supporting materials listed below. You can submit these items in any order, and we will review your application once we receive all the required items.

Required materials

All freshman applicants use the online Common Application to apply.

Freshman applicants must submit either a $50 application fee or application fee waiver if the fee presents a financial hardship or if you are a Colorado student. All Colorado students qualify for Free App EVERY day at CSU. You are considered a Colorado student if you have attended a Colorado high school or college/university or you currently live in Colorado. 

You will be prompted to submit your application fee or waiver when submitting your Common Application.


What we call a “personal statement” is called the “personal essay” in the Common Application. You’ll be able to type OR copy and paste your essay into your application before submitting it. The length must be between 250-650 words. Check out some tips for guidance and inspiration.

Your essay is your opportunity to help us understand what makes you unique beyond your grades and transcripts. It will be reviewed during your admission decision, for consideration if you apply to a competitive major, and for financial aid decisions.

The prompts you choose from are:

  • Some students have a background, identity, interest, or talent that is so meaningful they believe their application would be incomplete without it. If this sounds like you, then please share your story.
  • The lessons we take from obstacles we encounter can be fundamental to later success. Recount a time when you faced a challenge, setback, or failure. How did it affect you, and what did you learn from the experience?
  • Reflect on a time when you questioned or challenged a belief or idea. What prompted your thinking? What was the outcome?
  • Reflect on something that someone has done for you that has made you happy or thankful in a surprising way. How has this gratitude affected or motivated you?
  • Discuss an accomplishment, event, or realization that sparked a period of personal growth and a new understanding of yourself or others.
  • Describe a topic, idea, or concept you find so engaging that it makes you lose all track of time. Why does it captivate you? What or who do you turn to when you want to learn more?
  • Share an essay on any topic of your choice. It can be one you’ve already written, one that responds to a different prompt, or one of your own design.
  • Submit your most-recent high school transcript. We’ll need to see your grades through at least junior year* (i.e., 75% of our recommended high school units). Your high school transcript does not have to be official.
  • Submit an official college transcript for work completed during high school ONLY IF you’ve used full-time college enrollment as your high school curriculum (such as early college or homeschool). Otherwise, wait to submit an official college transcript after high school graduation.
  • Admissions decisions are provisional until we receive your final transcript verifying graduation.

How to submit transcripts

Optional materials

While the personal statement allows you to address your strengths, passions, and goals, the academic explanation helps us better understand your academic background.

GPA below 3.0 or D/F grades

Many students experience dips or inconsistencies in their academic record. There are so many reasons why things can go off course, and we want to understand the full picture. Community disruptions such as COVID-19  and natural disasters can have deep and long-lasting impacts. If you need it, this space is yours to describe those impacts. We care about the effects on your health and well-being, safety, family circumstances, and education, including access to reliable technology and quiet study spaces.

The prompt you’ll see in the application is:

If your cumulative GPA is below 3.0/B- average (on a 4.0 scale), if you have any D or F grades, or if you are missing units in the recommended classes, this is your opportunity to explain. Tell us about the situation and/or what happened, what you did to fix it, and how your experience will help you be academically successful at CSU.

Gap year

Not every student goes through high school and directly on to college without a break. If this is you, we want to know more. Be sure to include information about what you have done during your time away from school.

The prompt you’ll see in the application is:

“Provide an explanation of any break or interruption in your education of a semester or longer since 9th grade (or equivalent). Examples include sitting out for a semester or longer during or between academic year(s), completing a gap year, or taking time off between high school and college.”

We do not require a letter of recommendation for admission or scholarship purposes. Recommendations, if submitted, are not given much weight in our review.

If you opt to submit a recommendation, you may do so through the Common Application or as a PDF or Word document attachment emailed to

CSU does not require ACT or SAT scores. If you submit scores, they will be added to your application, but they will only be reviewed if you email us at to request that they be considered.

Even when requested, scores are not given much weight in the decision. Test scores are not used as the basis for declining an application or for consideration in the scholarship award process.

How to submit ACT or SAT results

Who we look for

Every incoming class looks different, though every class reflects our commitment to maintain high academic standards and provide people of all backgrounds access to higher education.

In general, students with a 3.0+ GPA (on a 4.0 scale) and a steady or upward trend in grades are admitted to CSU.

Research at CSU and across the country suggests grade point average (GPA) is the single most-predictive factor of a student’s potential for success in college. However, we know numbers aren’t the only way to understand someone’s readiness. That’s why we also review applications holistically, meaning we take a range of academic and personal factors into consideration.

3.44-4.08 GPA

This data reflects the middle 50% of freshmen admitted in Fall 2022. This means half the students we admitted have a GPA in this range; 25% of the students we admitted have a GPA above this range; and 25% have a GPA below this range.

Factors we consider

We verify that you’ll complete our 18 recommended high school classes. We consider the range and relative difficulty of the courses you’ve taken each year.

We look for meaningful engagement in school, extracurricular, and community activities to understand your strengths and interests.

We review your trends in grades over time and by subject and look for evidence that you have a solid foundation. In general, students with a 3.0+ GPA (on a 4.0 scale) and a steady or upward trend in grades are admitted to CSU.

Additional factors
We want to understand circumstances that have impacted your course selection, performance, and involvement. Also, some competitive majors require specific coursework and/or a higher grade point average to be admitted to that major.

What to expect

So what does the full application process look like? See the main steps and timeline for making it all happen.

  1. Complete your online application.
    Completing the application typically takes 30-45 minutes, not including the time you spend writing your personal statement and uploading supporting documents. If you have started but not finished your application, you can return to it.
  2. Activate your electronic identity.
    Within one to two days after you submit your application, you’ll receive an email with instructions to activate your electronic identity (what we call a NetID), which allows you to access your application status.
  3. Check your application status and email inbox to ensure your application is complete.
    Some applicants may be asked to submit more information, such as a new transcript, evidence of English proficiency, or an explanation of academic performance before receiving an admission decision.
  4. Wait for your admission decision.
    This is often the hardest part! Applications are reviewed on a rolling basis. Most students will receive a decision within four weeks after submitting a complete application with all required materials.
  5. Check your application status online or check your inbox for news and next steps.
    We will notify you of our decision through email first, followed by the printed, official admit packet, which usually arrives by mail two to three weeks after admission. Notifications generally fall into one of these categories:

Fully admitted
Applicants who are admitted into CSU and into the program of their choice.

Fully admitted: alternate major
Some applicants are admitted to CSU but placed in an alternate major or a related exploratory studies program instead of the competitive major they requested, either because they don’t qualify for direct admission or because capacity has been reached.

Not admitted
Applicants who are not offered admission are encouraged to apply as a transfer student in the future or ask for reconsideration with compelling new academic information. Learn more about your options.


You’re ready. Start your application. (Or come back to finish it!) And reach out to your admissions counselor with any and all questions you have. That’s what they’re here for!