Choosing the right college is crucial, not only for personal growth and academic achievement but also for future financial success. Identifying the best colleges is difficult to come by because the statement is inherently arbitrary, but a ranking of graduation rates and expected outcomes 10 years post-graduation reveals substantial information that some of the best colleges in the entire United States are in California.

Top 5 Best Community Colleges in San Diego | 2024 List

The Best California Colleges for Making Money Data

For the most part the data highlights some of the best colleges for return on investment (ROI), and we’re here to show you how starting at a California Community College can make these returns even better. A bachelor’s degree is a key factor in achieving financial success post-graduation, especially in the finance industry where it qualifies individuals for various job titles such as financial advisor, financial manager, and financial examiner.

University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) Ranked High Amongst Los Angeles School Institution

The Hidden Gem: California Community Colleges

While the best colleges like Stanford University and Caltech are well-known for their high ROI, it’s important to recognize the incredible value offered by the California Community College system.

By starting your educational journey at a community college, you can save significantly on costs and then transfer to a top-tier UC or CSU school to complete your degree.

This path not only reduces overall expenses but also positions you to maximize your financial returns after graduation.



According to research conducted by Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce, the University of California and California State University systems offer some of the best financial returns.

Here are a few standout institutions:

Stanford University: $360,000

UC Berkeley: $243,000

UC Berkeley - One of the best colleges in the nation and is a world-renowned school. Highly ranked and has direct mission and active alumni workforce

San Jose State University: $193,000

CSU Stanislaus: $184,000

University of Southern California (USC): $170,000

The Value of Public Universities

While private colleges often come with higher costs, public universities in the UC and CSU systems provide excellent financial returns at a fraction of the cost.

For example, Berkeley and San Jose State University both offer substantial ROI, making them attractive options for students focused on financial success.

Why Start at a Community College?

Starting at a California Community College is a smart financial decision.

Junior colleges offer lower tuition rates and the opportunity to complete general education requirements at a significantly reduced cost.

There is significant financial aid programs that can help alleviate some of the unexpected costs.

More than that, financial aid is offered for both federal and state programs and most financial aid can be applied for by filling out the FAFSA.

After two years, you can transfer to a UC or CSU to finish your degree, combining the low cost of community college with the high earning potential of a four-year university degree.

Understanding the Data

The ROI estimates were calculated using data from the U.S. Department of Education on the earnings of college attendees six, eight, and ten years after enrollment.

Researchers report the average cost of attending a college, accounting for federal financial aid, from the ten-year income to determine the ROI.

The cost of attendance includes tuition, fees, books, and living expenses.

Not Its Precise Rank

Wherever your college lands, the colleges scores result comes from a variety of different factors and they are not its precise rank for other unintended variables.

Two recent reports, from Georgetown University and the College Futures Foundation, place CSUs among the top California colleges offering the best return on investment. “Rather than using numerical rankings to order the colleges, Money uses a rating system that they say more accurately represents the variation in colleges’ performance,

Top ROI Rankings for California Colleges

The research found that the University of California and CSU schools generally offer better ROI compared to many private institutions. For instance:

  • University of California (UC) system: Median 10-year ROI: $196,000

  • California State University (CSU) system: Median 10-year ROI: $175,000

  • Private colleges: Median 10-year ROI: $88,000

Making the Best Choice for Your Future

When choosing California campuses, consider not only the immediate costs but also the long-term financial benefits. By starting at a community college and transferring to a UC or CSU, you can significantly reduce your education expenses while still reaping the benefits of a degree from a top university.

California Colleges like UCB, UC San Diego, UC Irvine, and San Jose State University offer excellent returns on investment, making them smart choices for students aiming to achieve financial success.

Students also want to make sure they are attending colleges they can see a future in and are enrolled in school for all of the right reasons.

Money magazine Best Colleges ranking and in a Press release and publication’s editors has given Cal State Monterey Bay 4.5 out of five stars on its 2024 college ratings and given it the magazine’s America’s Best Colleges Award. Money does not provide an individual ranking of schools. “There isn’t one ‘best’ college for every student,” the magazine’s website says.

Being a student and attenind whatever universities are critical times in your life and if money is not a factor then you are free to live it up as students at whatever school you feel you will have the most fun in and which offers the major your are hoping to have upon graduating and completing the high-quality bachelor degree program.

UC San Diego (UCSD) – La Jolla, CA

University of California San Diego (UCSD) - La Jolla, CA

They have exceptional attainment statistics for students’ success in terms of:

  • Graduation Rates

  • Bachelor’s Degree Percentage

  • Affordable Housing

This is not to say that private universities like the University of Southern California or Georgetown University aren’t great schools. They are. But they are significantly more expensive to begin with making the ROI harder to achieve in the long term for the average student.

Moreover, other schools not listed like San Diego State, Long Beach, UCLA, and other Cal States have different ranks depending on the major the student is choosing and whether they qualify for a high-quality scholarship or graduate from high school in the upper-ranks of their classes.

Similarly, California is full of opportunities and if the schools you are choosing between have only small differences, then you should focus most on how you can achieve student success in an area that you believe is high enough on the numbered ranking and also is one of the colleges you have expressed interest in due to their high number of bachelor’s degree of graduation rates.

At the California Transfer Support Network, we are committed to helping students navigate the complexities of higher education and make inform

Money is a huge deterance for people going to school

ed decisions that will set them up for long-term success.

Whether you are considering transferring from a community college or evaluating your options for a four-year degree, we are here to support you.

Whether it is for social mobility, money, country, city, or profit, bachelor degree students from across the country report that the cost is too high while universities continue to profit off the money that students pay.

Lowering tuition and finding a balance between allocating money to school endeavors can make a difference in some students’ success.

Join Us in Supporting Financial Success

By backing public universities and promoting the value of the UC and CSU systems, we can help more students achieve their dreams of higher education and financial independence. Join us in supporting California’s students and ensuring that they have access to the best educational opportunities for financial success.