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After a tumultuous year online and off-campus, students attending the nation’s largest four-year higher education system, the California State University, have persevered through the pandemic by largely maintaining their grades and course loads — although some troubling numbers point to the struggles of Latino and Black students, a Times survey has found.

Data provided to The Times by 18 of the system’s 23 campuses show that, on average, students’ unit loads and grades did not drop substantially in fall 2020 — the first full semester of online learning — compared with fall 2019.

In fact, average student GPA increased across the board, reflecting flexible grading and expanded withdrawal policies that were put into place during the pandemic, protecting students’ GPAs.

“Despite the enormous challenges, our students are, in large numbers, still pursuing their education. This speaks to their resiliency and determination,” said S. Terri Gomez, associate provost for student success, equity and innovation at Cal Poly Pomona.

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