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Eight California State University campuses will give Apple iPads to incoming freshmen and transfer students, a technology initiative intended to help close the digital divide as students are seeking more online classes in the nation’s largest four-year university system.

By providing an essential tool without further burdening student finances, university leaders hope the free technology will make a difference for those who are deciding whether to return to college.

“Every dollar is precious for our students and families,” California State University Chancellor Joseph I. Castro said, adding that students currently in high school may be incentivized to apply and enroll in the future. “There are so many students in high schools now that do learn using mobile tech, so this is a natural for them.”

Nearly half of all Cal State undergraduate students receive Pell Grants for financial needs and nearly one-third of students are the first in their family to pursue a college degree.

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