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Frequently Asked Questions

Fees and Tuition

How much will California residents pay in tuition and/or fees to attend the State's public colleges and universities as full-time undergraduate students? What about non-residents?

California residents pay only what are considered "fees" to attend the State's public colleges and universities; they do not pay "tuition." Only non-California residents pay "tuition" to attend the State's public colleges and universities. In actuality, this distinction has become less important since the early 1990s. Fees are generally defined as charges to cover the indirect costs associated with college attendance, while tution is defined as also including direct instructional costs. As resident student fee levels have risen, so has the use of revenue. Revenues from systemwide resident fees now are used as a general-purpose fund source for the higher education systems and are used to cover all the costs associated with the institution's operation.

Current and historic fees are posted on the Commission's Fiscal Snapshots page. A variety of additional information can be found in the Topical Listing of the Reports section.

How will the recent student fee increases affect enrollment at California's public colleges and universities?

State funded, need-based grant aid has been increased to cover the full cost of tuition increases at the University of California and the California State University. Students who receive these "Cal Grants" and attend the State's public institutions will not notice the impact of these fee increases. In addition, universities update their institutional aid programs to address the changing financial needs of needy students However, college students who do not qualify for this aid and those who may qualify but do not apply will face increased costs for attending college. This need will likely be met by a combination of increased work committments and greater student loan debt.

Is it true that California pays the college tuition for California residents if they attend a California University?

No. However California's public colleges and universities distinguish between residents and nonresidents for tuition purposes. State residents are charged much less than non-residents, who are charged the full cost of instruction.

What is Title IV?

This term refers to a section of the federal Higher Education Act of 1965, as amended, which authorizes the vast majority of federal student financial assistance programs.

Title IV student financial aid programs are offered by most institutions that are accredited by an accrediting agency that is recognized by the U.S. Secretary of Education. It is important to note that not all accrediting agencies are recognized by the U.S. Secretary of Education. Students attending institutions that are accredited by agencies not recognized by the Secretary are ineligible to receive aid from the federal Title IV student financial aid programs.

Title IV programs include:

  • Federal Pell Grants
  • Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG)
  • Federal Work Study
  • Federal Direct Loans
  • Federal Direct PLUS Loans
  • Federal Perkins Loans
  • Federal Stafford Loans

What portion of the cost of providing postsecondary education is borne directly by resident students attending California's public colleges and universities and what portion is subsidized by the State?

While we have imperfect information concerning the exact cost associated with providing postsecondary education in California's public colleges and universities, we estimate that, on average, undergraduate residents attending the University of California pay about 30 percent of the cost of education in that system; California State University undergraduates pay about 26 percent of the cost within that system; and California Community College students pay about 10 percent of their cost of education.

Meanwhile, the State of California and its taxpayers are providing about two-thirds of the support for the cost of education at the University of California and about 74 percent of the cost of education at the California State University. For the California Community Colleges, State General Fund revenues support about 48 percent of the cost of education, while local property tax revenues provide the remaining 42 percent of support.

The State and its taxpayers provide about $12,000 to support the postsecondary education of each full-time-equivalent student at the University of California, about $8,000 per full-time-equivalent student at the California State University, and State and local property tax revenues combined provide about $4,000 per full-time-equivalent student at the California Community Colleges.

(Numbers adjusted in 2007)

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