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CSUMB among most affordable, quality college educations in CA

Tanimura & Antle Family Memorial Library at CSUMB
Photo by: Joan Iguban Galiguis
Tanimura and Antle Family Memorial Library at CSUMB

California State University, Monterey Bay, continually innovates to meet the needs of each new generation of students. This is the sixth and final installment in a series of stories about why students choose CSUMB.

By Walter Ryce

Published April 29, 2021

Attending college is one of the most consequential things a person can do to raise the trajectory of their career; and people with college degrees earn 80% more money in their lifetimes than those with only a high school diploma.

There are many reasons to pursue a college degree at CSUMB. (See the other stories in this series via links below) And here is another reason: it’s one of the most affordable options for a quality education in the state.

CNBC reported that 44 million Americans, collectively, are burdened with $1.6 trillion (with a “t”) in student debt.

Angeles Fuentes, CSUMB’s Director of Financial Aid, oversees the distribution of all federal and state programs. She compares CSUMB’s lower cost with those of other California institutions of higher learning.

“For the academic year 2021-22, CSUMB's cost of attendance is 5.6% less than the average cost of the other [California State Universities],” she says. “Compared to the University of California system, our cost of attendance is almost 32% less for the 2020-21 academic year.”

And when comparing CSUMB’s costs to private universities like Saint Mary's, Santa Clara University, and Stanford, CSUMB costs 65.9% less money.

CSUMB’s Office of Admissions has a cost calculator and has compiled comparative figures so prospective students can get an idea of how much it might cost to attend CSUMB. They also report that more than half of all CSU students receive some form or financial aid, and 45% have their tuition and fees fully covered by grants or waivers.

A student and cashier at the Otter Cafe
A student and cashier at the Otter Cafe.

Some students are inclined to write off college because they don’t believe they or their families can afford it.

Kimberly Guanzon, CSUMB’s Director of Admissions and Recruitment, says they tell those students, “Don’t make assumptions; apply for financial aid.

“We also discuss additional options such as scholarships and student employment, as well as ways to reduce costs, such as having roommates," she says. "The more roommates, the smaller their share of the expenses.”

She also refers them to the Financial Aid Office to find solutions and to get help completing FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) and CADAA (California Dream Act Application) for undocumented students..

The FAFSA lets CSUMB know how much federal aid students are eligible to receive. For undocumented, DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) and TPS (Temporary Protection Status) students who are residents of the state of California, the CADAA works similarly.

At CSUMB, 41% of the student population receives the Federal Pell Grant, which helps with tuition, fees and other expenses like room and board; or they get the State University Grant (SUG) which helps pay for tuition.

Fuentes and Ashlie McCallon, the Associate Director of Financial Aid Services, list several ways CSUMB students can get help paying for their college education:

  • Federal Pell Grant: usually awarded to undergraduate/teaching credential students who display exceptional financial need. Students can receive between $672 and $6,495, depending on their eligibility and enrollment level.
  • Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant: SEOG is awarded to first-time freshmen eligible for the Federal Pell Grant and demonstrates a higher need. The average award is $700.
  • Federal Work Study Program: Provides part-time jobs for undergraduates with financial need, allowing them to earn money to help pay education expenses. Students can work up to 20 hours per week, and employers are encouraged to work around the student's school schedule.
  • Teach Grant: Awarded to students interested in teaching as a career and requires four years of qualifying teaching as a condition for receiving the grant. The Teach Grant provides up to $4,000 a year.
  • Federal Student Loans: Subsidized loans are available to undergraduate students with financial need, with deferred payments for students enrolled at least half time. An undergraduate student can borrow up to a maximum of $23,000. Unsubsidized loans are available to undergraduate and graduate students; however, interest accumulates on the student loan funds as soon as the loan funds are disbursed.
  • CalGrant A, B and T: The state of California offers grants to eligible undergraduate and teaching credential students who are California residents. An average CalGrant A is $5,742, CalGrant B is $7,398 and CalGrant T is $8,316.
  • State University Grant: This grant provides need-based awards to undergraduate, teaching credential, and graduate students who are California residents.
  • Middle Class Scholarship: This scholarship is available for undergraduate and teaching credential students with family income and assets up to $184,000.
  • Scholarships: CSUMB gives yearly access to incoming and continuing students to our CSUMB general scholarship. A scholarship can range from $100 to $7,500.

"We send out a yearly reminder to all students to apply or reapply for the FAFSA/CADAA before the deadline," McCallon says. "We also encourage all students to apply for the CSUMB scholarship and check social media or our website for other opportunities."

The Financial Aid Office goes to junior high and high school students to do early outreach to explain the different means to pay for college so no one turns away from the opportunity based on money. The office is open year-round, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, and they currently offer drop-in Zoom sessions with the dates and times listed on the financial aid website.

A big part of college expenses is housing. But CSUMB's on-campus residential halls and near-campus, suite-style apartments merge comfort, safety and convenience, while remaining more affordable than other local housing.

"When you take into account that the cost of on-campus housing generally includes rent, utilities — such as electric and gas, water, and trash — internet and sewage, among other expenses, off-campus housing options are often more expensive," said Jeff Cooper, director of Student Housing and Residential Life.

And there are other benefits that don't translate in terms of dollars, including the convenient access to classrooms, the library and eateries; and resident advisors and professional staff who are more readily available to support on-campus students. But campus staff are always looking for ways to keep CSUMB within reach economically.

"Many of our students have limited resources," Cooper says. "So we are continuously trying to find ways to keep the value of living on campus high, while keeping the cost to do so reasonable so that as many of our students as possible can access it."

It's all part of raising the trajectory of students' career and future prospects.

Read other stories in the series: Unique offerings in the colleges of Business, Education, and Science. Unique offerings in the colleges of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences, Health and Human Services, and Extended Education and International Programs. CSUMB's proximity to beaches, dunes, nature habitats, outdoor activities, and famous destinations. CSUMB's extracurricular and outdoor activities. How CSUMB is committed to equity and inclusion to ensure student success.

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