Ensure non-tuition costs don’t stand in the way of college access, persistence or completion, or cause a student to become food or housing insecure.

The rising cost of college in California is deterring many students from pursuing postsecondary education. Affordability issues not only pose a barrier to entry, but also negatively impact persistence and completion rates.  California has a $2 billion dollar financial aid program that helps low-income students meet their tuition costs; however, it leaves non-tuition costs largely unmet. Research shows the non-tuition costs – books, food, housing, transportation, and personal expenses – are what ultimately lead students to become housing and food insecure.

According to the Student Expenses and Resources Survey administered by the California Student Aid Commission, 35% of students surveyed reported being food insecure and 33% reported being housing insecure. The same survey showed that students spend an average of $2,020 per month on non-tuition costs. With the arrival of COVID-19, students reported increased worry and anxiety around covering these expenses.  State and educational leaders have the opportunity to prioritize college affordability by making significant investments in financial aid and introducing  reforms that make college possible for everyone regardless of personal or family income. 


  • Support additional state investment in public higher education to avoid additional tuition increases and allow for targeted investments to need-based financial aid.
  • Advocate for more resources to ensure the basic needs of students are being met by improving existing resources such as food pantries and emergency housing.
  • Remove barriers, such as eligibility requirements,  that make it more difficult for students to access financial aid packages. 
  • Promote additional investments in need-based financial aid to help bring the total cost of college within reach.