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Student Fees at CSULB Most Affordable Among All 4-Year Institutions in California

Published: February 16, 2009

Adding credence to its recent ranking among the top 50 “Best Value” public colleges in the nation by The Princeton Review, officials at CSULB released national data showing that CSULB fees are the lowest of any four-year institution in California and the lowest among all 23 campuses of the California State University (CSU) system.

For 2008-09, the national average cost of attending a four-year public university was $6,585 while the national average of attending a private institution reached $25,143. By comparing those rates to the 2008-09 average cost of enrolling at a University of California campus, which was $8,007, or one of the 23 CSU campuses, which averaged $3,849 for the year, CSULB at $3,392 lives up to its reputation as one of the nation’s best university values.

Even within the CSU, the cost of attending CSULB is lower than the rest, in some cases much lower. The second lowest resident undergraduate student fee at a CSU campus in 2008-09 was at CSU Monterey Bay, where full-time undergraduate students paid $3,535 or $143 more than at CSULB. At the other end of the spectrum, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo had the highest student fees in the CSU system at $5,043 for 2008-09. All University of California institutions charged considerably higher rates than all CSU institutions.

“At Cal State Long Beach, we’ve worked diligently to keeps costs down for students wherever possible because we recognize that affording a university degree is an economic necessity for every child and student in the years to come,” said CSULB President F. King Alexander. “Many of our students are among the first in their families to go to college, and they come from a wide array of diverse socio-economic backgrounds. We have thousands of middle and lower income students who would not be able to afford a university education if they lived in a state other than California. So, the issue of affordability is paramount, but it is also indisputably linked to the public commitment on the part of California taxpayers and legislators to keep it this way.”

Although its fees are the lowest, CSULB offers a quality educational experience with some of the most renowned academic programs in the state. For the last five years, the campus has been recognized by USNews & World Report as one of the top five public comprehensive universities in the western United States. CSULB also attracts some of the best and brightest high school graduates in California through its President’s Scholars Program, which has awarded more than 900 full scholarships to high school valedictorians and National Merit scholars.

“In addition to affordability, however, we also understand the value of providing a well-rounded and high-quality education to our students,” Alexander added. “It is this reputation that makes Cal State Long Beach one of the largest universities in the nation and California in terms of student enrollment. If we didn’t provide a quality experience, students wouldn’t want to come here, and their parents wouldn’t want them here.”

The difference within the CSU is in the mandatory campus fees. While all 23 CSU campuses charged a state university fee of $3,048 for full-time undergraduate students — the lowest system student fee in the nation — each campus has its own set of additional campus fees, which averaged $801 systemwide for 2008-09. CSULB campus-based fees were only $344 for this year.

These campus fees are charged for a variety of university services that are not covered by state fees, including health services, technology enhancements and other instructionally related activities. Campus fees may also support non-academic building projects (such as student recreation centers), athletics, student body associations and other specialized materials and services.

“Campus-based fees help us provide to our students an important margin of educational excellence that enhance student learning opportunities inside and outside of the classroom. These fees help us offer a wide range of educational experiences that would otherwise be excluded,” Alexander pointed out. “However, I do believe that no other university or university system in the nation does a better job at balancing the important issue of maintaining widespread affordability and providing high-quality educational experiences.”

CSULB is the largest campus in the CSU system with 37,891 students, and the state’s second-largest university. The largest four-year institution in California, a member of the University of California, is UCLA, which enrolled 39,650 students for the fall 2008 semester. UCLA students paid more than twice as much as CSULB students in 2008-09 –$8,309.