Going to a public university can be surprisingly expensive, especially for out-of-state students.
According to the College Board's 2018 Trends in College Pricing Report, during the 2018-2019 school year, published in‐state tuition and fees at public four‐year schools averaged $10,230, but out-of-state tuition and fees averaged $26,290.
This significant difference in cost for out-of-state and in-state students can be seen at some of the country's most respected public institutions.
The University of California, Berkeley, is the flagship school of the University of California system and is consistently ranked among the most prestigious public universities in the country. Located in Berkeley, California, near San Francisco, the university enrolls some 30,853 undergraduate students and is known for both its strong athletic and business programs.
The school clearly lays out the typical budget for undergraduate in-state students, indicating that the total cost of attendance for an in-state undergraduate student during the 2019-2020 school year is around $36,264, including $14,254 in tuition and fees, $17,220 for on-campus room and board, $1,876 for personal expenses, $1,644 for food, $870 for books and supplies and $400 for transportation.
But these costs are significantly higher for students who are not California residents. "Out-of-state residents add $29,754 in Nonresident Supplemental Tuition," reads the school's financial aid website. When this "Nonresident Supplemental Tuition" is added, the total cost for an out-of-state student can be as much as $66,018.
Just over 75% of undergraduates at UC Berkeley are California residents, while the remaining quarter are out-of-state and international students.
It is typical for public universities to charge out-of-state students significantly more than in-state students, and many schools use the extra funds to subsidize costs for in-state students and to provide scholarships.
Over two-thirds of Berkeley undergraduates receive some form of financial aid and under UC Berkeley's Blue and Gold Opportunity Plan, in-state students from families that make less than $80,000 per year pay nothing towards the cost of tuition after grants and scholarships are taken into account. While out-of-state students can apply for some merit-based scholarships, they are not eligible for this kind of need-based financial aid.
In some states, out-of-state students can apply for residency status after their first year of school in order to pay in-state tuition, but not in California. "Many nonresident students assume that they can easily establish California residency and pay in-state fees in subsequent years," states the UC Berkeley website. "Obtaining California residency is very difficult. Students physically present in California solely for educational purposes will not be eligible for resident classification regardless of the length of their stay in California."
In order to qualify as a California resident students must demonstrate they, their family or their parent/guardian has a permanent California address.
According to University of California school system, 26% of UC Berkeley students are the first-generation college students and 26% qualify to receive Pell Grants.
The New York Times estimates that the median family income of UC Berkeley students is $119,900 and gives the school high marks for its mobility or the likelihood that a UC Berkeley will move up two or more income brackets in their lifetime. The Times reports that 55% of UC Berkeley students who were born into families in the bottom 20% of earners grow up to be in the top 20% of earners as adults.
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