California has generous financial aid

Worried about the cost of college? You’re not alone. Voters in a 2019 PACE/USC Rossier poll ranked college affordability as the second-most important education issue for California, behind gun violence in schools. More than half of California adults think community college should be tuition-free.

When it comes to financial aid, California’s already a bigger spender than any other state, doling out $2 billion in grants and scholarships in 2018. The Cal Grant, the state’s major scholarship program, pays up to the full cost of tuition at the University of California and California State University, and just over $9,000 per year at private California colleges, for the neediest students. It’s a “first dollar” scholarship, which means that students can combine it with federal and other grants to save as much as possible.

Community college students whose families earn 150% or less of the federal poverty level can have their fees waived.