The Early Start Program: Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Early Start Program?

The Early Start Program is a tool used across the California State University system to prepare incoming freshmen for college-level English and Math courses. The program was approved by the CSU Board of Trustees and launched at all CSU campuses in 2012.

Will I be required to participate in the Early Start Program?

First-time freshmen attending in the Fall will be required to participate in the Early Start program if their scores on the Elementary Level Mathematics (ELM) and/or English Placement Test (EPT) do not meet the threshold for Early Start exemption. Log into your student portal at to view your Early Start Smart Page which will tell you whether or not you need to participate.

Can I be exempted from the Early Start Program?

Yes, students may be exempt from Early Start for a number of reasons. For more information, visit the Exemptions page.

How do I choose where I complete the Early Start Program?

Go to the Early Start Smart Page located in your Student Center at  You must notify Fresno State of your plans to fulfill the Early Start requirement.

Where is the Early Start Program offered?

The Early Start Program is offered at all Cal State campus' and some community colleges.  Check the Cal State Website to see if there is a campus near you offering the Early Start Program.

What if I do not complete the Early Start Program?

If you are required to complete the Early Start Program and do not complete it, you will not be permitted to enroll as a Freshman for your first semester.

Is financial aid available for the Early Start Program?

Students who are eligible to submit FAFSA should do so before enrolling in Early Start. If you have submitted a FAFSA and meet a specific estimated family contribution (EFC), you may be eligible for a waiver of registration fees for the Early Start Program. The waiver does not cover books or materials for courses. Students who are not eligible to submit FAFSA, including AB 540 students, should be sure to file the State Financial Aid application prior to enrolling in Early Start. A formula similar to the EFC is used to determine eligibility for the waiver.

Who should register for Early Start classes?

Only students who earned a score less than 50 in the ELM and/or less than 147 in the EPT are required to enroll in Early Start courses. To see if you are need to participate, go to It is your responsibility to check your Smart Page and enroll in Early Start courses.

When will the course schedule available?

 The CSU system-wide course schedule is posted on this website: The Fresno State course schedule can be viewed in the Student Center, log into

Are Early Start courses available online?

Fresno State will have a limited number of online seats available. Highly independent learners have the best success with online instruction. Students who plan to travel during the summer months are not exempt from the Early Start requirement and are encouraged to utilize the online course options.  Register Early!

Will an Early Start course count toward my degree?

Early Start is an admission requirement based on your ELM an EPT scores. The classes do not fulfill any requirements towards a degree program.

Will I need to buy any textbooks for Early Start?

Some Early Start classes do require you to purchase textbooks. Your professor will provide details about these costs when the class begins. See the  Costs page for textbook cost estimates.

Where do I get my Fresno State ID card?

Most Early Start students will receive a Fresno State ID card during their Dog Days orientation. You can find more information here.

I’m attending another CSU campus in the fall. Can I get a Fresno State ID Card for Early Start?

If you are attending Early Start at Fresno State, but are attending another CSU campus in the fall, you can obtain an Early Start ID card for free. This card will grant you access to the library and pay-for-print services during all sessions of the Summer Early Start program.

  1. Register for your Early Start course(s).

  2. Go to the Bulldog Card Office in the Joyal Building, Room 156 to receive your Early Start ID Card.

The Early Start ID card is only VALID until the end of the Early Start program.

What student services will be in operation during Early Start?

Check the following websites for Summer Hours Kennel BookstoreHenry Madden LibraryStudent Recreation Center

Do I need a parking permit?

You will need a parking permit to park on the Fresno State campus. Early Start students will be able to purchase an Early Start parking permit from the University Police Department for $20. Please check the  Early Start parking page for more details.

Can I live in the dorms during the Early Start Program?

Students taking class(es) over the summer can reserve housing at University Courtyard.  The nightly rate is $21.50 and the dates must be consecutive. You can download an application from, or go to the Atrium Lobby for assistance. Rooms are assigned on a first-come, first-serve basis.

I need to find a building on the Fresno State campus.

How do I get special learning/facility accommodations for a disability?

Contact Services for Students with Disabilities as soon as possible to ensure that your disability can be accommodated. Phone:  559.278.2811Website at

Can I fulfill the Early Start requirement at a Community College?

Click here for a list of Community Colleges and courses that will be accepted at Fresno State to fulfill your Early Start requirement.  YOU MUST forward transcripts of the completed work to Fresno State when the courses are over.  Call 559.278.6106 to speak to the Fresno State Early Start Remediation Specialist if you have any questions.

Can I fulfill the Early Start requirement at a private institution or an institution in another state?

If available, you may fulfill the Early Start requirement at a private institution, or an institution in other states.  YOU MUST contact your future CSU campus prior to selecting one of these options.  The future CSU campus must approve this choice.  Students must remember to forward transcripts of their completed work to their future CSU campus when the courses are over.  Call 559.278.6106 to speak to the Fresno State Early Start Remediation Specialist.

How do I access my online Early Start class?

Online Early Start classes are accessible via Blackboard. Click here to login using your Fresno State username and password.