Under a new bill signed by Gov. Jerry Brown
Under a new bill signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown, students and their families will be able to learn how much it actually costs to go to college.
Assembly Bill 990 requires the schools in the California State University system to annually estimate and then clearly display the market rate for a one-bedroom apartment near campus. The campuses will have to talk to students, read news stories and check apartment listings, among other strategies, to come up with their estimates.
Right now, Assemblyman Freddie Rodriguez (D-Pomona), the bill’s sponsor, argued, the CSU and University of California systems calculate those costs in different ways, sometimes relying on old data. Some campuses, for instance, use an academic year to calculate costs while others use a calendar year.
“There is no clear information available to students about how that information is obtained,” Rodriguez said on the Assembly floor ahead of the vote, which passed 62-0.
It’s no wonder the idea has been backed by student associations. As applications to the CSU increase, campuses are struggling to house all of their students. As this news organization reported, San Jose State University was forced this summer to notify more than 100 freshmen who, according to a school policy, were technically required to live on campus that it doesn’t have enough space to accommodate them.
As the mother of one of those students said at the time, a run-down apartment a bus ride from campus was going for more than $2,000 a month, which far eclipses the off-campus living costs the school submits to CSU.
On-campus housing costs are no picnic, either. According to an analysis of housing costs by the Bay Area News Group, on-campus housing costs vary wildly and are rarely in sync with local market rates. Next year, for instance, students will pay $2,500 more to live on campus at CSU Fullerton than at Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo.
Confusion around the cost of off-campus housing extends to the UC system, too. But the state cannot compel UC, which has more autonomy than CSU, to follow the new law. A UC spokeswoman did not immediately respond to a request for comment about whether the system would abide by the guidelines spelled out in AB 990.
“This measure,” Rodriguez said, “[will] insure that students and parents have all the information necessary when deciding where to go to college.”
The campuses must begin posting the accurate off-campus housing costs by next February.
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