Top 32 Most Affordable Community Colleges in California in 2024

January 26, 2024 | Admin

Cheapest Community Colleges in California
Most affordable community colleges in California badge

Getting a college education can be an expensive affair. Currently, the average student debt in the US stands at around $30,000. You can, however, get a college education without being saddled with overwhelming debt by attending a community college, before you proceed to a 4-year college.

The Average Cost of Tuition for California Community Colleges

The average tuition per year for public community colleges in California is about $1, 636, for in-state students. For out-of-state students, tuition averages at about $ 6,797. And the average annual tuition for private community colleges is about $19,157. On average, the acceptance rate for community colleges in California is 86 percent.

Why Joining a Community College Makes a Great Deal

On average, tuition for four-year public universities is $9,173 for the 2020-2021 academic year. For private universities, tuition averages at $38,511.

The difference between the tuition you’ll pay if you directly join a four-year school with what you’ll pay if you join a community college and then transfer credits is massive. It’s no brainer, joining a community college is the best way to optimize your spending on education.

Besides, if you maintain good grades, you can benefit from scholarships and grants and coast through the two years without getting crippling loans. What’s more, in California, community college students get special consideration in admission and can benefit from special scholarships. You can also tap into special financial aid, and thus if you maintain good grades, you can easily skate through the four years without taking overwhelming loans.

Are you looking for the cheapest community college in California? Here is a list of the options you can consider, starting from the one with the lowest in-state tuition per academic year, going up.

Rank School Location
1San Bernardino Valley CollegeSan Bernardino, California
2West Valley CollegeSaratoga, California
3Santa Ana CollegeSanta Ana, California
4Barstow Community CollegeBarstow, California
5Coastline Community CollegeGarden Grove, California

Top 32 Cheapest Community Colleges in California


San Bernardino Valley College

  • San Bernardino, California
  • Graduation Rate: 19%

San Bernardino Valley has been offering excellent college education, science, arts, humanities, and business for almost a century. The college’s certifications cover, emerging, in-demand, and popular professions, including geographic information systems, nursing, water supply technology, and more.

Besides, SBVC actively collaborates with business and educational partners to ensure their programs align with employers’ needs.

The faculty comprises of instructors and professors who have doctorate level education as well as considerable industry experience. Students can therefore get to acquire ‘real-word’ based knowledge that will enable them to flourish in their profession, industry, and business.

School Overview

Tuition: $2,829
Enrollment: 17,044 students

School Overview

Visit School Website

West Valley College

  • Saratoga, California
  • Graduation Rate: 14%

The Silicon Valley-based, West Valley College, offers 18 career programs, degree programs, and professional certificates. Students benefit from the exceptional preparation for transition to universities and four-year colleges.

The community college’s flexible learning options include distance and online learning. To foster the highest personal and academic success, the college offers numerous levels of support that include educational planning, financial support, learning skills programs, child care, and personal counseling.

West Valley College, thus, provides a comprehensive educational experience that fulfills the students’ academic and career needs. It also encourages learners to seek wisdom and knowledge as lifelong learners and helps them acquire the competencies they need to thrive in a rapidly changing society.

School Overview

Tuition: $3,082
Enrollment: 9,062 students
Visit School Website

Santa Ana College

  • Santa Ana, California
  • Graduation Rate: 13%

Santa Ana College offers students a broad education program that prepares them for the workplace as well as transition to four-year colleges and universities. Students can also acquire associate degree certificates.

For learners who are aiming for high academic achievement, the college offers honors courses. Besides, the college helps students gain the technical proficiency needed in their pursuit of other personal and professional goals.

SAC has also consistently proved to be a state leader when it comes to student transition to four-universities.

School Overview

Tuition: $3,220
Enrollment: 29,590
Visit School Website

Barstow Community College

  • Barstow, California
  • Graduation Rate: 19%

Barstow Community College focuses on cultivating an innovative learning environment while respecting students’ diverse abilities, backgrounds, interests, and cultures.

The two-year institution also prepares students for four-year universities and colleges as well as offers vocational training courses and programs. Students gain skills, knowledge, and the certifications needed for career advancement and advanced level employment.

Besides, the college offers counseling and the support needed to help students identify their goals and attain their personal, employment, and educational potential. The institution has also partnered with agencies, military bases, schools, businesses, and local governments to foster positive community change, development, and economic growth.

School Overview

Tuition: $3,252
Enrollment : 1,859
Visit School Website

Coastline Community College

  • Garden Grove, California
  • Graduation Rate: 24%
Outdoor view of Coastline College campus

Coastline Community College is known for its innovative take on education delivery. It offers flexible high-quality distance learning programs as well as on-campus courses in its three locations: Garden Grove, Westminster, and Newport Beach. The institution offers over 250 online courses.

Coastline Community College students enjoy personalized attention due to smaller classes. Online students get as much support as the on-site students. Besides, the community college offers A.S/A. A degree programs as well as certificates.

Perhaps the best aspect of Coastline’s educational programs is that students get to personalize their goals and schedules based on their work and family obligations.

School Overview

Tuition: $3,284
Enrollment: 24,886
Visit School Website

College of the Canyons

  • Santa Clarita, California
  • Graduation Rate: 10%

The College of the Canyons provides both academic and career development programs at a lower division for everyone willing to learn.

The institute’s top-quality technical and academic programs include 55 majors/disciplines, 38 certificate programs, 1,528 class sections, as well as 34 computer labs. Besides, the college boasts of seventeen athletic programs – eight for men, nine for women, and thus provides students an opportunity to take part in intercollegiate athletics.

The College of the Canyons is known for its leadership in linking its education programs with job creation, job retention, and economic development. Additionally, the institution is recognized for its excellent academic programs, support systems, staff, faculty, management of resources as well as collaborations with community members and businesses.

School Overview

Tuition: $3,314
Enrollment: 17,148
Visit School Website

Golden West College

  • Huntington Beach, California
  • Graduation Rate: 19%

Golden West College offers associate degrees in most subjects, boasts of a robust university transfer program as well as a wide range of short-term vocational programs in over 60 major areas.

Besides, the college is located in a secure location and offers a vibrant student body, multicultural environment, and an honors program. Students benefit from an optimal learning and teaching environment thanks to the college’s innovation which takes into consideration technological and demographic changes. Golden West College also has the good fortune of being in one of the US’s safest locals.

School Overview

Tuition: $3,324
Enrollment: 12,394
Visit School Website

Crafton Hills College

  • Yucaipa, California
  • Graduation Rate: 22%

Crafton Hills College is located in the rolling Hills that hover over Yucaipa Valley, and it’s surrounded by a stunning natural environment. The institution offers over 40 majors in sciences and liberal arts, technical studies, and vocations.

Students also get to benefit from a wide range of social, cultural, and recreational activities. The music program hosts performances all through the year. Theatre Arts is reputed for its exceptional and award-winning musicals, classics, and Broadway plays.

The institution also hosts an American Indian resource center that helps the surrounding Native American Community get scholarships, culture-related information and resources, artifacts, historical information, genealogy, and more.

School Overview

Tuition: $3,374
Enrollment: 5,932
Visit School Website

Monterey Peninsula College

  • Monterey, California
  • Graduation Rate: 9%

Monterey Peninsula College is committed to offering its diverse community high-quality education, and adequate student support. The institution is also known for its effective leadership, fiscal prudence, as well as expertly maintained and environmentally friendly campus. Students can opt for the courses that prepare them for four-year institutions, or programs that prepare them for the workplace or new careers as well as those that improve work skills.

Monterey Peninsula also offers general education programs that help students improve their skills in reading, writing, mathematics, and science.

School Overview

Tuition: $ 3,378
Enrollment: 7,727
Visit School Website

Antelope Valley College

  • Lancaster, California
  • Graduation Rate: 24%

Antelope Valley College serves both students who’re getting into college for the first time, and those coming back after a long period. It provides the students with an opportunity to pursue certificate or degree programs, attend vocational training as well as satisfy transfer requirements. Students seeking to enhance personal growth or advance careers are also catered for.

The college’s programs are hinged on California’s plan for higher which emphasizes the affirmation of diversity and equal educational opportunity.

School Overview

Tuition: $3,384
Enrollment: 14,578
Visit School Website

Southwestern College / Chula Vista

  • Chula Vista, California
  • Graduation Rate: 18%

Southwestern College is the only learning institution located between the Mexican – US border and San Diego. The college’s offering includes over 285 certificate and associate degree options.

Besides, students can benefit from various noncredit courses meant to enhance professional and personal development. Whether a student is planning to transition to a four-year college or updating career skills, Southwestern will help them attain your goals.

In addition to the classes offered at its centers, the institution also offers off-campus classes in numerous extension sites within the district. And, Southern western, in collaboration with California’s Department of waterways and boating, run a Coronado-based aquatic center.

School Overview

Tuition: $3,394
Enrollment: 19,000 students
Visit School Website

El Camino College-Compton Center

  • Compton, California
  • Graduation Rate: 12%

El Camano College offers accredited educational programs and related support to Compton students. The college’s offering includes vocational training opportunities, university transfer, and basic skills courses.

Students also benefit from academic counseling, peer advising, assessment, transfer assistance, tutorial assistance, career development, summer programs, workshops, field trips, and a voucher to help them buy the required books.

School Overview

Tuition: $3,410
Enrollment: 7,611
Visit School Website

Glendale Community College

  • Glendale, California
  • Graduation Rate: 15%

Glendale community is reputed for its excellent academic programs. Among all the two-years institutions in the vast San Gabriel and San Fernando Valley, Glendale helps the most student transition to the University of California.

The college also offers exceptional career training in their high-tech facilities that include 22 computer labs. Besides, it provides specialized job training courses like GAIN and JTPA, and through its Professional Career center, it administers contract instruction.

School Overview

Tuition: $3,419
Enrollment: 15,112
Visit School Website

Saddleback College

  • Mission Viejo, California
  • Graduation Rate: 17%

Saddleback College’s stellar reputation is tied to its high-tech and well-equipped laboratories and learning centers, as well as their demanding academic curricular, high transition rate to four-year institutions, and robust student support services.

The institution’s reputation for excellence draws top-quality faculty and staff from across the US. Besides, the classes at Saddleback are small and so students get to enjoy one-on-one engagement with their professors.

Saddleback students also get to enjoy comprehensive job placement, career planning, and counseling services. Other offerings include a staged health center, child care, and a wide range of tutorial programs.

Besides, through the Emeritus Institute, Saddleback offers career reentry programs for older adults and for professionals who need to update their educational credits.

School Overview

Tuition: $3,422
Enrollment: 20,007
Visit School Website

Victor Valley College

  • Victorville, California
  • Graduation Rate: 20%

Victor Valley College is located in High Desert in Southern California. The High Desert locale has over the last two decades evolved from a semirural area to a vibrant retail and commercial/industrial center with a growing population.

Victor Valley College has evolved along with High Desert and now offers educational courses in areas such as hybrid/electric car maintenance and repair; solar panel repair, installation, and maintenance; digital animation; land restoration; GPS studies, and more.

The institution also hosts a regional training facility for correctional officers, police, paramedics, and firefighters. Among its alumni is High Desert’s civic leaders, medical providers, business people, service industry personnel, many other contributing members of society.

School Overview

Tuition: $3,430
Enrollment: 11,557
Visit School Website

San Diego City College

  • San Diego, California
  • Graduation Rate: 17%

San Diego City College is one of the premier community colleges in California. The City College offers lower division educational programs that enable students to get a Certificate of Achievement or Associate Degree or to transition into four-year universities or colleges.

Besides, City College offers industry-specific career development programs and courses that meet California’s state licensing requirements.

School Overview

Tuition: $3,458
Enrollment: 16,298
Visit School Website

San Diego Miramar College

  • San Diego, California
  • Graduation Rate: 13%

Miramar College opened in 1969 as a firefighter and law enforcement training facility. The institution has gradually grown and now the campus hosts a high-tech computer and business hub, police academy, library, digital media lab, child development center, online “bullben”, San Diego County’s largest aquatic complex, and a 32-acre-sized athletic complex.

The college offers associate art/science degrees, general educational programs, and vocational programs. The institution is ideal for students who want to proceed to four-year colleges and universities; it also already has transfer agreements with CSUs, UCs, and numerous private universities.

School Overview

Tuition: $3,458
Enrollment: 11,876
Visit School Website

Copper Mountain Community College

  • Joshua Tree, California
  • Graduation Rate: 22%

Copper Mountain College offers an educational environment free of discrimination based on disability, sexual orientation, ancestry, color, veteran status, religion, age, the nation of origin, or group identification.

Through cooperative efforts with learners and the community, the institution has developed a curriculum that helps students attain their employment, educational, and life-long goals.

School Overview

Tuition: $3,460
Enrollment: 1,652
Visit School Website

MiraCosta College

  • Oceanside, California
  • Graduation Rate: 18%

Founded in 1934, MiraCosta College was the second community college to open in San Diego County. Students in MiraCosta get to benefit from the informational labs, library, 1000 networked computers, free tutoring in all subjects, as well as a national honor society and Honors Scholars program.

Besides, through its Community Learning Center, the institution offers parenting classes, programs for the mentally and physically challenged, and workshops for older folks. It also hosts the Cisco Academy, where students can acquire computer networking skills.

School Overview

Tuition: $3,728
Enrollment: 14,687
Visit School Website

Merced College

  • Merced, California
  • Graduation Rate: 17%

At Merced College, students can acquire an associate degree or academic credits that can be transferred to the University of California and other California State universities. Merced also offers various vocational training programs.

Besides, the college carters for veterans and it offers courses that parallel four-year programs, and thus which can be transferred to accredited universities and colleges.

School Overview

Tuition: $3,514
Enrolment: 10,214
Visit School Website

Lassen Community College

  • Susanville, California
  • Graduation Rate: 9%

Lassen Community College is located in Susanville, California. Lassen is a fantastic place for a student to explore various career possibilities, update technological skills, and focus on their first two years of their four-year program.

The curriculum for most programs at Lassen is continually changing to incorporate the latest training. Besides, many programs combine classroom learning with hands-on training. The programs are focused on preparing students for careers as well as for transition into four-year universities and colleges.

School Overview

Tuition: $3,515
Enrollment: 2,557
Visit School Website

Cabrillo College

  • Aptos, California
  • Graduation Rate: 18%

Cabrillo is one of the most reputable community colleges in California thanks to its success in career education as well as transfer to four-year colleges.

Students can take classes conveniently in the various college locations that include the main campus at 6500 Drive and the other campuses in 318 Union Street and downtown Santa Cruz.

The institution‘s programs are, for the most part, tailored for Silicon Valley and the whole of San Francisco Bay Area’s business environment. Students can acquire A.S. Degrees, Skills Certificates, and Certificates of Proficiency.

School Overview

Tuition: $3,528
Enrollment: 13, 594
Visit School Website

Napa Valley College

  • Napa, California
  • Graduation Rate: 21%

Napa Valley College is located in the world-renowned and stunning northern California wine country. The campus hosts the Napa Valley Vintners’ Teaching Winery, a child development hub, and more. Besides, the college hosts a fine arts gallery and offers non-credit classes in its Community Education Center.

Napa’s exceptional facilities attract students from far and wide who want to tap into what’s not offered elsewhere, and generations of Napa residents have passed through the college. Napa offers educational programs that prepare students for four-year colleges and universities, as well as help them upgrade current career skills, attain new careers, or gain knowledge for the sake of personal development.

School Overview

Tuition: $3,542
Enrollment: 6,348
Visit School Website

Fullerton College

  • Fullerton, California
  • Graduation Rate: 18%

Fullerton College offers a wide array of educational programs with 68 vocational programs and 90 programs leading to the A.S. or A.A. degrees in vocational and academic subjects. Fullerton is also reputed for having one of California’s highest transfer rates to higher learning institutions like California State universities, and the University of California.

Students also get to benefit from the diverse extracurricular activities like intercollegiate athletics, the campus newspaper, student government, music and theatre groups, TV and radio broadcasting, and more.

School Overview

Tuition: $3,574
Enrollment: 25, 051
Visit School Website

Chaffey College

  • Rancho Cucamonga, California
  • Graduation Rate: 23%
Chaffey College sign on campus outdoors

Founded in 1883, Chaffey College is located in Southern California’s tranquil and natural beauty. Today the college offers occupational and academic programs at its three campuses as well as online.

The college’s excellent education courses enable students to transfer to four-year institutions and acquire or update job skills for the shifting market place. Students who aim to improve current skills, change careers, or acquire technical can opt for any of the more than 60 occupational programs offered at Chaffey. The programs include aeronautics, automotive technology, nursing, hotel service management, and more.

School Overview

Tuition: $3,613
Enrollment: 19,557
Visit School Website

Mission College

  • Santa Clara, California
  • Graduation Rate: 15%

Mission College offers fantastic transfer programs and courses that help the student transition to four-year colleges or universities, whether it’s private universities, the University System, or California State System.

Besides, the college offers exceptional programs that help students join the workforce in various areas like hospitality management, fire technology, nursing, and more. Students can also benefit from the ESL, English, and Math classes that provide a foundation for future courses.

School Overview

Tuition: $3,622
Enrollment: 8,435
Visit School Website

Mendocino College

  • Ukiah, California
  • Graduation Rate: 26%
Outdoor view of Mendocino College campus in the evening

Mendocino Provides transfer preparation, academic programs, vocational training, opportunities for lifelong learning, and student support. Besides, Mendocino college campus hosts a science complex, a hub for performing and visual arts, an athletic complex, a facility for vocational training, and a library.

School Overview

Tuition: $3,340 (including other costs)
Enrollment: 3,769
Visit School Website

Citrus College

  • Glendora, California
  • Graduation Rate: 29%

Citrus College serves the communities of Monrovia, Glendora, Duarte, Claremont, Bradbury, and Azusa. As part of California’s Community college system, it provides vocational training and cultural opportunities for the residents of Pomona Valleys and greater San Gabriel.

School Overview

Tuition: $ 3,660
Enrollment: 12,780
Visit School Website

Pasadena City College

  • Pasadena, California
  • Graduation Rate: 21%

Pasadena City College provides academically rigorous and high-quality instruction on vocational training and credit transfer. The college also provides learning programs that are meant to bolster the quality of life and economic conditions for the diverse communities living in its locale. Besides, Pasadena sponsors 16 intercollegiate teams in 11 sports.

School Overview

Tuition: $3,660
Enrollment: 26,611
Visit School Website

Yuba College

  • Marysville, California
  • Graduation Rate: 20%

Yuba College has been providing an exceptional education for eight decades. During this period, the college has established itself as one of the leading education providers in northern California. Any student who’s over 18 years and who has graduated high school or has an equivalent certificate can enroll in Yuda.

The community college offers Associate in Science/Arts Degrees as well as Certificates of Completion. Students can also acquire credits which can be transferred to a four-year program or enroll in self-development classes.

Students at Yuda College are also eligible for financial aid that comes in form of scholarships, work-study programs, grants, and loans. Yuda disperses over $9 million every year to students. Students are also encouraged to apply for federal aid.

Student life in Yuda is exciting with recreational and social activities lined throughout the school year.

School Overview

Tuition: $3664
Enrollment: 6,640
Visit School Website

Sierra College

  • Rocklin, California
  • Graduation Rate: 23%

Sierra College is a north-central California based community college that serves Nevada, Placer, and parts of Sacramento and El Dorado counties. The primary campus is in Rocklin.

Nationally, Sierra is known for its excellence in various academic areas like nursing, electronics, math, early childhood education, computer science, and more. It’s the 13th community college in the US when it comes to awarding Associate degrees, and the 1st in California.

Sierra also hosts an accredited Student Health Center that focused on the application of the latest research and technologies in real life. The program is taught by qualifies instructors who’re experts in their fields.

The focus on quality in education delivery is also what has pushed Sierra to the top position when it comes to transfers to California State University campuses and the University of California. Besides, the community college offers online courses that allow students to complete much of the course work at home.

School Overview

Tuition: $3,670
Enrollment: 18,565
Visit School Website

Irvine Valley College

  • Irvine, California
  • Graduation Rate: 15%

The Irvine Valley College carters for students who’re looking to improve basic skills, enhance career skills, transfer to a four-year college, or obtain an associate degree or certificate. Irvin also supports community education, as well as provides support services for students, cultural experiences, and self-development opportunities.

The institution combines its modern equipment and facilities with the small-college atmosphere, exceptional faculty, dedicated staff, and commitment to quality education. The college has a student body, co-curricular programs, and over 20 student clubs, including the celebrated Model United nations, teams for Administration of Justice, and Forensics.

Throughout the academic year, there are concerts, theatre and dance performances, special events, and art exhibits.

School Overview

Tuition: $3, 678
Enrollment: 13, 157
Visit School Website

When you do the math, going through community college is the cheapest way and perhaps the most convenient way of getting a four-year degree. Besides, community colleges are essential drivers of local economies and an excellent resource for anyone who wants to maintain relevant job skills in a rapidly shifting job market place. Are you looking for the cheapest community college in California? Well, these are some of the options you can consider.

Find the program that’s right for you

Whether you’re trying to start your career or make a big change, we can help you find the perfect school to help you reach your goals.

Woman in graduation cap and gown
Scroll to Top