What CA School Can I Get Into & Afford?

Like many, I want to leave my boring town behind and head to California for college. I know how typical it sounds, but what can I say? It’s true.

Unweighted GPA: 92.58
Weighted GPA: 95.14 (honors/AP in most core classes)
PSAT score: 1350
Haven’t taken the SAT or ACT yet, but those are scheduled for later this year.

I’ve been looking at schools in the $20,000-$30,000 range, give or take. My parents have no money saved for me to go to college and probably can’t contribute more than a few thousand ($5,000 per parent, per year, tops). I’ll be relying heavily on , financial aid, loans, and what I make from my part-time job.

As for my major, I want to go into something film/photography/visual arts related. I’m looking for a hopefully larger (10,000+ students) school, urban or rural areas are both okay but I would like to be able to get to a city fairly quickly (20 minutes or so) if the school is in a rural area. I love the feel (from what I’ve gathered online) of Berkeley, UCLA, UC Santa Cruz, San Francisco State, etc…But most of these are UC schools, which, as an out of state student, would be way too expensive for me.

What colleges do you think I could fit in at/get into/afford, considering these stats? Also, bonus question, do you think SFSU would be a good choice for me?

If your parents can only contribute $5000/year and you as a student can only take out $5500 as a Freshman, that will be the extent of your budget unless you qualify for Federal aid (Pell Grants). Are you parents willing to take out a Parent plus loan on top of the $5000/year? What is your family EFC?

What you need to do is figure out what your budget is first and then look for schools that will give you good financial aid and/or merit aid.

The Cal States (CSU’s) run about $40,000/year for an OOS applicant and offer little to no financial aid or merit aid.

You would need to target private schools not public schools that offer good FA.

I would look at University of San Diego, Occidental, St. Mary’s, Azusa Pacific and University of San Francisco as possible options but not sure if these schools will fit your requirements based on intended major. Run the net price calculators on each of the schools to get an idea of costs.

Without the help of your parents, I seriously doubt you will be able to afford any California schools but do some research.


If your home state is one of these states that are part of the WUE, there are several Cal states and one UC on the list where you get discounted tuition.

Students from all WICHE member states are eligible to request the WUE tuition discount. WICHE member states: Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah, Washington and Wyoming.



Based on your financial situation, it will be best for you to stay Instate. I think it’ll be very hard to find a school in California that fits you financially. You can only take out so much in loans, and is it really possible for you to make up to 10000 to 15000 a year working while being a full time student? Probably not. If you’re really set on California, you can transfer after two years.

Just to clarify, I meant $5,000 per parent-- that’s $10,000 + $5,500 in loans + I have ~$4,000 saved + I make ~$500 a month = $19,500 + $500 x 19 months = $29,000. Sorry, I know I wasn’t clear about some of that and forgot to mention some.

Unfortunately, I don’t live in any of those states so I can’t get the WUE discount.

Do you think I could afford it if I went to community college (here or there?) first? I’m already planning on doing dual enrollment (no cost) at my local community college next year, so I could stay home the year after high school to finish my Associate’s and save money, then transfer out to California for my Junior and Senior years.

I’ve also heard of people living out of a van/car to eliminate the cost of housing, which saves a few thousand a year, even considering the elevation of costs associated with the vehicle. I would have to buy a car, but could potentially do this if it allowed me to go to school.

Do you think either of these would work? I’m sorry if my ideas sound crazy, I’m just trying to think through it all and brainstorm. Thank you so much for your help!

I don’t think you understand how expensive it is to live in California. San Francisco is one of the most expensive cities in the country. There is no street parking in the city, without paying big bucks, and being able to find a place to park. My neighbor just moved up there. She owns a home in SoCal, but she bought a condo in the city of San Fran. She can’t afford to have a car in San Francisco because she has to pay to garage it. There is no free parking in the city. San Francisco has good city transportation, so she uses that to get around town.

If you go to a community college in California, you will be charged OOS tuition which averages about $20K per year. That is not including paying for food. That is not including the cost of transportation. Our gas prices are always higher than other states.

Then, to transfer, you will not be a priority student for financial aid. Transfers receive very little aid if any, OOS are out of luck.

The UC’s will be $55K per year. The Cal States will be $40K per year.
The privates will run from $50K-70K.

You won’t be able to become a resident for instate rates because you are coming out to California for educational purposes. So you will always be OOS.

So you will spend all of your money for your first year. What happens after that first year?

If you attempt to live in your car, it will be difficult because of the parking limits and parking statutes; you will get ticketed and will have to pay.


from @NCalRent

Read this thread: http://talk.collegeconfidential.com/california-colleges/1802004-so-you-want-to-come-to-california-for-college.html#latest