California students know something state policymakers want to understand: The true cost of attending college


SEARS will generate timely, relevant information

This survey data is essential to inform the State Legislature and policymakers as they work to ensure that Cal Grants and other financial aid programs help make college affordable for all students. Hundreds of colleges and universities in California also use this information as they plan their own financial aid offerings, and as they publish information on their cost of attendance.

The California Student Aid Commission will use the survey results to update and improve the estimate for how much the typical student in California pays annually for books and supplies, technology, housing, food, transportation, medical care, and other expenses while attending college. We’ll also report on the sources of funds—such as wages, grants, loans, and money from parents—that students use to pay for all costs of college.

The survey will provide student expense information that is specific to regions of California. It will also examine any differences in expenses based on demographic characteristics including gender and race/ethnicity.  

This year’s survey is especially important because it is the state’s first comprehensive research on college expenses in more than a decade. The survey results will be of high interest to education groups in California and across the nation.

You can help

Data will be collected every three years from a representative cross-section of students.

Campus leaders: Promote the survey to make sure the experiences of a range of students on your campus are included in this important research.

Invited students: Complete the survey to make sure that your experience, and the experience of students like you, is represented.

Contact with questions, or download the SEARS overview below to learn more.

Download the SEARS Overview