The High Cost of Education

College costs continue to soar, but careful planning can help you reduce the costs.

College costs can range from $9500 to over $50,000 per year for California institutions.[1] Of course where you live, what books you buy, if you need a car, and other living expenses will have an effect on how much your total costs are. College costs are creating large debts that students and/or parents must pay for many years.  Addi interest to your college loan, and a long-term costs can increase the payback amount substantially. One of the most effective ways to control those costs is not to avoid them.

Here are some of the ways to consider costs for your education.

  1. If you are planning on a four year degree, completing your first two years of credits at a community college makes great financial sense.

The annual tuition costs in California, for Community Colleges (resident tuition), is $1100[2]. When comparing this to a California State University which is $5472, you can easily see that tuition alone is nearly five times more in a State University compared with a Community College. Spending two years at Community College can save you $8600!

If you transfer into a UC (University of California), the tuition is $12,240 per year. Two years at a Community College saves over $11,000 each year or $22,000 for two years!

Private Colleges will likely have even higher tuition. According to Private Colleges In California[3] website, in the 2015-2016 academic year, the cost for not-for profit private institutions was much more, at $30,131 per year. This tuition alone could raise your debt by $58,000 if you were to get loans on the whole amount.


Type of Institution Tuition Per Year Two Years at Community College Savings by going to Community College Savings for two years
Community Colleges $1,100 $2,200
Cal. State University $5,472 $2,200 $ 8,744
Univ. of California $12,240 $2,200 $22,280
Private Colleges Ave. $30,100[4] $2,200 $58,000


  1. Living Expenses. Some students have the option of living at home. This can be another large savings compared with living on your own. If you live around the Riverside area, the same apartment will cost less than in LA or San Diego. So staying close is also a savings.

According to CaliforniaColleges.Edu, the official source for college and career planning in California, the average costs are below.

Expense Commuting Living On-Campus Living Off-Campus
Books and Supplies  


$1,640-$1,790 $1,640-$1,790
Room and Board  


$9,000-$15,000 $9,000-$12,600


$1,125-$1,600 $1,125-$1,600
Personal $1,100-$1,700 $1,100-$1,700 $1,100-$1,700

If you can live with parents the $4970 cost for Room and Board (shown above) may be much lower.   If you don’t live with parents, living on or off campus will cost $4000 to $7000 less. If you lived at home for two years while going to Community College your savings may be about $8000.

You can see that taking advantage of Community College Education for two years will be a great saving for the total cost of education.

  1. If you are still in High School. Be sure to be as proficient as possible in each subject. Taking additional remedial courses costs money. Save this cost by learning the material while in High School

If you can take certain college classes in high school, (under our “High School Concurrent Enrollment” program), you will not need to pay for as many credits in college, saving even more money for each credit you earn.

  1. Grants and Scholarships are wonderful ways to help pay for your education. Remember if you don’t have to borrow more to stay in school, you won’t have to pay interest on the loan either. Click here for more information on how to get grants and scholarships.
  2. Making money to off-set costs. Many college students work while in college. The more you can make, the more you can contribute to your education and costs, without taking on debt. Working while in college can be taxing, many do it, and many highly successful people are proud of the time they spend working during college. But as Benjamin Franklin said, “A penny saved is a penny earned.” And so a dollar earned and spent for college is a dollar you won’t have to pay back with interest.


Education Pays

According to the US Bureau of Statistics from the Labor Department a person with an Associate’s Degree, earns a median pay of $41,596 per year. This is a whopping $187,200 more than a high school graduate median pay over 30 years of working[1].

If your costs for NORCO College are $6000 (tuition, books, transportation, and personal costs) for each of two years, and you live at home, your investment in education will earn you a huge dividend of 3100 percent over 30 years!


A bachelor’s degree increases your earnings by another half million dollars over 30 years.

After Community College if you pay for a California State University bachelor’s degree (full time), and did not work, or get grants or scholarships to reduce the cost it will cost about $78,000 including living costs. The extra money you would make with a bachelors degree is $18,000 per year, so you would pay for the education in just 4.3 years with the higher pay. This is a 23% return on your educational investment. Any banker would take that deal!

But if you did not go to community college, your cost would be closer to $150,000 and your return on investment would be just 12%. This is still very respectable, but you can see how much sense a Community College investment makes.

Keep in mind that the major you choose and degree you earn, and the career you choose, influence how close (above or below) to the median earnings you will be. Many types of degrees are in higher demand (such as cyber security) than others (such as art and humanities). Therefore, higher demand jobs will prove to be  better educational investments than lower demand jobs. Certificated, skilled jobs also earn more than some degree programs and are not necessarily reflected in the median wages.

Selecting your career carefully is important. Higher education is no longer inexpensive, so choose your career wisely.

Career and Technical Education Increases Pay

Typically, more education leads to higher wages[2]. However, within higher demand jobs, a wide range of pay is possible. Skilled trades are in higher demand right now, and while training and appropriate certificates are required, these can be attained without college degrees. Training for many of these skills is available through NORCO College, its sister colleges, and partnerships.

Forbes Magazine identified Elevator Installers and Repairers as receiving an average salary of over $74,000, The top 10% of these make $106,450[3]. No degree is required, but specialized training is. Many other fields in electrical power, petroleum operations, surveyors, and air craft mechanics also do very well. Many types of jobs can pay above Bachelor of Arts degrees in social sciences, and arts.

If working with your hands is what you like to do, and you enjoy technology, NORCO has many options available to consider. Because these courses require less time to complete, the cost is lower, making skills certification a great educational value.

These programs include crime scene investigation, general business administration, real estate, childhood development, electrician and electronics, engineering and design, game development and multimedia, industrial automation and manufacturing, information and music industry studies, communication technologies, and more.

Many of these skills training programs can fit right into other degreed programs as well. Starting with a skill and continuing on with your degree is an economical way to earn more now to help pay for a degree later.

For instance, the industrial automation and manufacturing skills can be combined with a business degree that will provide real understanding of the job while preparing you for a supervisory or management job later.

See the details of these opportunities here.


[1] This figure was calculated by dividing $187,200 by the cost of the $6000 estimate.
[2] According to median wages based on educational attainment, US Bureau of Labor.
[3] Forbes Magazine.
[1] What will my college cost my family?
[2] The actual amount may vary, these are for comparison only. These numbers are from The CaliforniaColleges.EDU site. They will have more up-to-date