Updated December 8, 2022 · 1 Min Read

California seems like the ultimate destination for excellent schools in a beautiful setting, but are any California universities affordable for out-of-state students? is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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Freshmen considering a move to the "Golden State" for their higher education career may be concerned if there are any California universities affordable for out-of-state students. California operates 154 public and 158 private colleges across the entire tuition spectrum. It's well-known for having some top-tier institutions with huge price tags, such as Stanford University where the undergrad tuition was $47,940 in 2016-17. The California State University System is often applauded for charging reasonable tuition at $6,704 to Californians, yet costs can jump to $18,000 or higher with non-resident fees. Your dream of studying on the West Coast can still be within reach though. The following are four accredited California colleges that are the cheapest for out-of-state students.

Trident University International

Featuring over 28,000 alumni, Trident University International is a private, for-profit distance learning institution run by CEO Travis Allen with 394 faculty in Cypress, California. Given the "Best Buy Award" from, Trident is named America's 82nd best online school by Niche. California and non-resident undergrads pay the same low tuition rate of $375/credit or $9,000 yearly on average. Active-duty military receive a discount for $250/credit. Students choose from seven WASC-accredited bachelor's degrees, including the B.S. in Health Sciences, B.S. in Leadership, and B.S. in Computer Science.

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Bethesda University

Founded by Dr. David Yonggi Cho in 1976, Bethesda University is a small, ABHE-accredited Christian institution maintaining a 6:1 student-faculty ratio on its campus in Anaheim and online. Graded "A" for value on Niche, Bethesda was crowned California's #1 most affordable online option by Out-of-state undergrads are charged only $9,120 per year. Students can select from four bachelor's degrees with several concentrations, including the B.A. in Early Childhood Education, B.A. in Music, and B.A. in Religion/Theology. Costs are also lowered with awards like the Young-San Scholarship.

Brandman University

Headquartered in Irvine with 26 California campuses, Brandman University is a private, nonprofit institution within the Chapman University System that's educating around 11,000. Placed 19th nationally by, Brandman is recognized by the U.S. News for America's 63rd best online bachelor's degrees. Out-of-state students are charged below-average annual tuition at $12,300. The NCES also shows that 54 percent of full-time Brandman undergrads receive financial aid. Either on-site or online, learners choose from 50+ WASC-accredited programs, including the BBA Marketing, B.A. Legal Studies, and B.S. Information Technology.

National University

Accredited by WASC since 1977, National University is a private, non-profit teaching institution endowed for $558.9 million that's attracted over 23,900 students to La Jolla, 28 California satellites, and online study. Ranked 38th by the Institute of International Education, NU has America's 119th best online bachelor's degrees according to the U.S. News. Non-residents studying full-time will pay $13,016 for yearly tuition. Funding opportunities like the Presidential Tuition Scholarship further cut costs. Undergrads access 65 bachelor's degrees, including the B.A. in English, B.S. in Financial Management, and B.A. in Sport Psychology.

According to the Gates Foundation, 63 percent of college students in California attend two-year junior colleges. Non-residents could begin their post-secondary endeavors at cheaper community colleges to maximize their budget. Some great values to consider are Saddleback College, American River College, Folsom Lake College, and San Joaquin Delta College. After finishing an associate, individuals could transfer credits to California universities affordable for out-of-state students and reap a high bachelor's ROI.


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