California has some of the most affordable universities in the country. Find out where

Randall Benton/

The California State University system is promoting its comparably low tuition and fees as it works to shore up enrollment coming out of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The system on Wednesday released a study it created comparing CSU tuition to 15 other public universities across the country. It found its tuition rates and fees are the lowest in the comparison group.

Undergraduate students pay a total of about $7,500 in tuition and fees – nearly $1,300 less than the next university in the comparison group.

Out-of-state tuition and fees are nearly $17,000.

“The CSU continues to be a national leader in providing a high-quality education at an unmatched value,” said CSU Interim Chancellor Jolene Koester. “A college degree is increasingly important in today’s society, and the CSU’s value proposition empowers students to achieve their dreams of pursuing higher education and – in turn – transforming their lives and those of their families, as they elevate their communities.”

The 23-campus system faced declining enrollment during the COVID-19 pandemic, but CSU campuses remain an affordable option for students as CSU increased its tuition just once in the last 11 years.

The CSU system serves more than 460,000 students, with 81% of them receiving financial aid.

Nearly 61% of undergraduate students have their entire tuition fully paid for.

That financial assistance helps drastically bring down the average loan debt among CSU campuses. While the 2020-21 national average for college debt accrual is $29,000, and the state average is $21,000, CSU students accrue on average $18,000 in debt, according to the report.

Those numbers are key to addressing declining enrollment across the country, as schools and colleges are preparing for fewer younger people in the future due to declining birth rates, declining international enrollment, and skepticism about the value of college degrees in general. Those hardest hit in the CSU system are Cal Poly Humboldt, Sonoma State and Chico State.

CSU Chico’s sharp decline in enrollment began in 2017 and worsened as wildfires took a toll on Butte County. California put $400 million into re-branding Humboldt State University following a steep enrollment decline of 31% between 2017 and 2021.