College options: UC schools remain an oasis

Even with the much-publicized fee increases of the past year, University of California schools, especially UCLA, remain some of the best values in four-year colleges. Los Angeles is filled with reputable schools, but out-of-state options may suit some best.

By Susan Reines/Special to The Malibu Times

Students protested across the state last year as the governor hiked University of California fees ever higher, but the schools remain an oasis for parents and students shocked by skyrocketing tuitions at private institutions, especially because six University of California campuses landed in the top 50 in the U.S. News college rankings this year.

Tuition and fees for California residents at UC schools are approximately $7,000 per year, about a quarter of what many private colleges charge. The cost is higher than the amount some other state schools, like the University of Washington and the University of Texas, charge their in-state students, but most UC campuses also ranked higher on lists of top colleges than those schools.

In fact, UC Berkeley was the highest-ranked public school on the U.S. News’ most recent list of top colleges, and UCLA followed closely behind.

Along with Berkeley and UCLA, four other UC campuses ranked in the top 50 on the U.S. News list—San Diego, Davis, Irvine and Santa Barbara. UC Santa Cruz and UC Riverside received lower rankings but still made the list of the 100 best. All eight of those campuses appeared on the Princeton Review’s most recent list of the 357 top colleges.

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Private schools in the Los Angeles area, such as Pepperdine University, the University of Southern California and Loyola Marymount University cost about four times as much as a UC education but do deliver in quality. Pepperdine and USC appeared on both the Princeton Review and U.S. News top college lists. Neither outranked UCLA or UC Berkeley, however.

Loyola Marymount did not make the U.S. News top 100 but did qualify for the Princeton Review list of the 357 best schools.

Students hesitant to pay for private education but wary of the competition for admission to UC schools could find a happy medium in other states’ public universities, whose tuitions—even for out-of-state students—are often lower than those of private schools. State schools in Washington, Texas and Ohio have higher acceptance rates than most UC campuses, cost on the order of $10,000 less per year than the average private school and still have good reputations.

Another recourse for students hesitant to count on admission to UC schools, now that acceptance rates are down to 25 to 50 percent at many campuses, are local community colleges. Santa Monica Community College reportedly has the highest transfer rate to USC and UC schools of any California community college.

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The Malibu Times is the first newspaper in Malibu, serving the community since 1946.

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