News23ABC In-Depth


What does it cost to go to college in California?

Posted: 5:51 PM, Oct 06, 2021
Updated: 2021-10-06 20:51:48-04
college students

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KERO) — Going to college can be expensive so 23ABC took an in-depth look at how affordable college really is and how much housing and living costs.

According to a study by the California Student Aid Commission with numbers reported before the pandemic more than 3-in-10 students in California say they could not afford to pay for college housing.

Cost of College Living Statewide

Data for the same study shows the average cost per month for a student to live, eat, stay, and have basic supplies is around $2,000. And that doesn't include tuition costs and school fees.

Fortunately for students, some costs—most notably, textbooks—appear to have declined significantly since the last SEARS. Students in 2018–19 reported spending about half of the inflation-adjusted 2006-07 total on textbooks and other educational supplies. Students were asked to estimate their costs for college beyond tuition and fees in the following categories: books and supplies, food, housing, transportation, and personal expenses. The statewide average reported by students totals $2,020 per month, or $18,180 per nine-month academic year
Cost of College Housing

Looking at the cost of housing specifically, the study by the California Student Aid Commission shows the statewide average cost for housing is almost $900 per month. In the Central Valley, which includes Kern County, that cost is closer to $750 per month.

Unsurprisingly, living costs and other aspects of the college experience vary by region. The cost of housing, in particular, shows a wide variance across the 15 micro-regions of California – from $753 per month in the Central Valley region to $1,178 per month in San Francisco and San Mateo counties.

Across the state, about two-thirds of the students polled said one of their biggest challenges with school was trying to pay for school and having to balance working with classes to make ends meet.

Even though I live with my parents, I still struggle to pay for gas money and food. I work two jobs but struggle.
Student, Inland Empire/Desert
4 Students cite cost and school-work balance as the major obstacles to success The Commission wanted to understand the relative importance of financial issues in students’ overall perceptions of challenges to succeeding in college. The survey gave students a list of eight possible options to select as the single greatest obstacle they face to succeeding in college: The challenges I thought I would face paying for college have taken a back seat to the challenges I face paying for housing and food. I will be graduating next month and giving up my apartment to stay with friends and family. At 42 years of age, this was a difficult choice to make, but I cannot afford to keep up even my modest independence.
Student, Mid-Peninsula Area