To answer that question, you first need to know how much it costs. The cost of college in California is on par with the national average.
Much depends on whether you or your child will attend a private or public college, how much financial aid they will receive, and the cost of living in the city where they’ll attend school.
Public college is much less expensive than private. In California, the average public tuition for in-state students was $6,645. For out-of-state students it was $19,855.
These figures are for four-year degrees. If your child will attend a program that runs for less than four years you can expect a lower tuition —$1,261 on average for in-state and $7,647 for out-of-state students.
Private college costs the same for in and out-of-state students because the government does not offer direct subsidies to all students who attend.
For private colleges you can expect a yearly tuition of $29,388 on average for four-year degrees. Shorter degrees are less expensive per year (and thus, in total) at an average of $20,483.
There are also many excellent community colleges in California, where average tuition costs range from $1,104 to $3,700.
Different colleges and programs will have different tuition costs.
If you or your child is not yet in high school, you might not be sure which kind of colleges you will be aiming for, or whether or not your student will attend an in-state school.
In this case, it is wisest to save for the most expensive option that you could afford.
When making your projections, keep in mind that you also have to add in expected inflation (increases in cost of living, rent and tuition) every year.
From the 2016-2017 academic year to the next, California college prices increased an average of 1.06 percent.
Tuition is not the only cost you or your child will have to pay while attending college.
There are four main additional costs that may make some seemingly affordable college options much more expensive, or expensive options look much better.
Colleges charge additional fees alongside tuition.
Some fees are mandatory, while others are not.
Mandatory fees can vary widely between universities but are generally more expensive at private than public colleges. Expect at least $1,000 in fees.
2. Books and Supplies
The average cost of books and supplies at California colleges is $1,599.
This is a yearly cost and is the same for public and private colleges.
While used books will save you money, it is not always possible to purchase all of the books a student needs in digital or used copies.
3. Housing and Food
The city you or your student live in can dramatically change their housing and food costs.
While universities often argue that living in their residences on campus costs about the same as living independently in the city, this is often not the case.
Living independently can cost significantly less, especially if you or your student has a reliable means of transportation.
Your student will need to use a vehicle, the bus or subway to commute into class unless they live directly on campus.
Some colleges include public transportation options in their fee schedule, so that students don’t have to pay for transit independently.
The cost of college is highly variable depending on where you or your student will attend.
Proper planning begins with first determining your budget. Then determine which schools fit within that budget and anticipated major.
Don’t be discouraged. The sticker price of a school doesn’t determine the actual cost of attendance.
Many costly private colleges may end up being more affordable than a state school depending on the financial aid package.