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Free Tuition Only Part of Solution

In California, state and institutional financial aid programs are among the most generous in the nation, helping students pay for tuition at all three public systems. The real affordability challenge, however, for California’s public college students is paying for non-tuition costs including room and board, books and supplies, and transportation.

In reality, the majority of costs for attending public colleges and universities are not tuition charges, but living expenses incurred to cover books, transportation, rent, and meals.

Eliminating students’ need to borrow requires more than just free tuition, because most Californians who leave school with debt already had free tuition. Policymakers interested in improving college affordability should start by increasing grant aid for students struggling to manage non-tuition college costs.


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