TOP 10 Cheap Universities In Los Angeles

There are more than sixty colleges around Los Angeles. Of course, the city is known for its high cost of living among other monumental glitz, but there is hope for students who are on a budget.

While the ‘City of Angels’ has recently become California’s hub for education, one can count the number of universities that offer fair, affordable tuition fees.

As an international student looking for the cheapest university in Los Angeles, California State University, Los Angeles is the best option as it offers a tuition fee of around $16,286 for a full academic year.

However, there are other universities in the city that offer tuition fees around that price point which you will see in the rest of this article. At the end of the day, you’ll realize that picking the most affordable university in LA goes beyond the tuition fees.

Other factors like fees for books, accommodation, and health insurance among others also play a role in your decision-making.

Top 10 Cheap Universities in Los Angeles

When it comes to inexpensive universities in the LA area, you are not limited to a few options because there are numerous.

Your choice will be determined by your academic goals and priorities. For instance, UCLA may be cheap but it is the best bet for a more rigorous degree program with a focus on research.

So as you go through these options, pay attention to the eligibility and academic offerings, and not just the fees details.

1. Santa Monica College (SMC)

The International Tuition Fee for Undergraduate Programs at Santa Monica College is about $8,900. The institution has been in operation since 1929 and is considered one of the best, affordable colleges in Los Angeles.

I’d recommend it as a great choice for students who are considering starting at a smaller institution before going into a 4-year university since it has a great transfer rate. It is for this reason that it is listed among the cheapest universities in LA.

Santa Monica College offers 90 fields of study to choose from and boasts about 30,000 student enrolments for every academic year. Though the tuition fee is very low compared to many others, you need health insurance and additional fees.

Also, the college is an excellent choice for international students who want to study and work at the same time since SMC has part-time study options.

Apply for Santa Monica here

2. Los Angeles Valley College

The tuition fee For Undergraduate Programs at Los Angeles Valley College (LAVC) is $12,048 each academic year.

The community college is situated in one of the most diverse neighborhoods in Los Angeles and features International Students Program for foreign students even though the college is mostly attended by locals.

The good thing about this institution is that students are presented with orientation sessions, educational plans, and immigration advising, among other varying services that are necessary to settle in LA for study.

Popularly known as Valley College, LAVC has been in operation for about 70 years and, to date, offers 140 associate and certificate degree programs.

You can study Chemistry, Child Development, Communications, Anthropology, Kinesiology, Biology, Business, English, and even Health Science among many others at Los Angeles Valley College.

View Los Angeles Valley College Departments and courses here

3. Los Angeles Trade Technical College

The tuition fee for Los Angeles Trade Technical College undergraduate programs is $15,744 for each academic year. For this reason, it is one of the cheapest universities you can find in Los Angeles.

Often called LATTC, the institution is peculiar for offering courses around vocational programs. However, there are associate courses that can be carried over to 4-year colleges.

It is open for both local and foreign students as a stepping ground to further into major universities that you admire around LA after you must have gathered enough money to afford the fees in those universities.

If your study is around the fashion design program, then there is no better, most affordable institution than this one. This is not only because it is the oldest to offer such academic service in LA, but also because it offers free application and relatively low tuition fees.

The LA Trade Tech has become a popular choice amongst international students and most of their applicants, every year, are from other nationals.

4. Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science

The international tuition fee for undergraduate programs at Charles R. Drew University of Medicine & Science is $601 Per Unit, while graduate programs cost $961 Per Unit.

The university is made up of a School of Nursing, a College of Science and Health, and a College of Medicine. Although it is a small one, the community leaders are involved in the thriving of the school given that it was established to produce more medical professionals in the area of South Los Angeles.

In other words, even foreign students who come here to study are certain of a future and career in loss Angeles if they prove worthy. One good thing about Charles R. Drew University is that both in-state, out-of-state, and international students are all equal when it comes to application and promotions.

The university even has a liaison with UCLA to allow students who have studied courses in their first two years at UCLA to do their clinical rotations at Charles R. Drew University.

5. Los Angeles City College (LACC)

A total of $8,128 is what it would cost a student for the international tuition fee for undergraduate programs at Los Angeles City College. But this is not the only thing that makes it among the best, cheapest universities in LA.

Located in East Hollywood, the community college campus used to be the place where students attending the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) resided.

There are more than 90 courses you can study in this college and it features different programs such as vocational studies and even transfer programs.  The payments you’ll have to make to school for a year of studies at LACC are low plus other numerous financial aid services for national students.

6. West Coast University

Another affordable university you can find in Los Angeles is the West Coast University. Here, the National and International Bachelor’s Tuition is between $21,670 and $36,316

It is a great choice for students who eye the medical field and want to obtain undergraduate or graduate degrees in such areas.

One thing that makes West Coast stand out from most other cheap universities in LA is that they offer flexible and equal opportunities to all students, thanks to their fully online programs and the possibility to stretch the time within which you can complete the degree for reduced pressure.

Even though their fees are not high, they still strive to offer experiential learning and highly technical training which is commendable.

7. American Jewish University

As a first-year international student at American Jewish University, Los Angeles, you will be required to pay a tuition fee of $27,810 for a Bachelor’s degree. The same thing applies to domestic and it is affordable compared to other schools in Los Angeles.

The university has been in operation since 1947. It is a private university with three libraries and limited offered programs. You’d expect that the school is a center and home for the Jewish community. But the spoiler is that they admit individuals of any race, gender, ethnicity, and religion.

If you are willing to choose this option, know that the Jewish tradition is used as a guide in school but it won’t be enforced on you.

With the reasonable rate, students have options for multiple graduate programs but only three Master’s level programs for Jewish Education and Leadership.

8. Woodbury University

With its affordable rates of $43,392 as Bachelor’s Tuition, you can have world-class education at Woodbury University without spending through your nose.

It is a private educational institution that offers a long list of degree programs for both domestic and foreign students.

Considering a set of widely accepted indicators of excellence, the university peaked at #44 out of 120 Regional Universities West which is a good reputation.

Both national and foreign students looking to enroll at this university are expected to have above-average high school grades. For instance, it is safe to assume that B+ students are accepted and ultimately attend Woodbury.

See further information on Woodbury Tuition Fees Here

9. Otis College of Art and Design

A little above the tuition of Woodbury is the $49,100 Bachelor’s Tuition of Otis College in Los Angeles. It is the very first college to zero into the training of art studies in LA.

Students who want to obtain a degree in media, design, and communication without breaking the bank can consider this school. With its affordable rate, the school is known as the national leader in empowering the creative financial climate for the city.

10. Southern California Institute of Architecture

The tuition at the Southern California Institute of Architecture is the highest compared to others on this list. Students pay $49,490 for the Bachelor’s Tuition but this is still very affordable compared to most other universities in the city.

The prestigious and highly specialized higher education institutions offer one undergraduate and six graduate programs in or related to Architecture.

The school shares the environment with the bustling city and is usually seen as a port of call for many individuals coming in or going out of Unites States for tourism or visitation.

With the low tuition fee, it is impressive that students still enjoy immersive, hands-on, creative, and technical skills and knowledge in architectural studies.

What is student accommodation cost in Los Angeles?

Various metrics and survey rankings suggest that students studying in the USA should estimate an annual rental budget of $10,000 to $12,000.

It cost of living in LA as a student varies between academic institutions since prominent universities will have higher fees. Meanwhile, as an international student, it would be best to live on campus since your bills will be included in your rental fees which would be paid annually.

It is also a guaranteed way to maximize the American student experience.

Are there public services for students in LA?

Yes, there are public services for international students in Los Angeles but it depends on the resources and the level of institution (government, state, and university).

Information on what services are available to you as an international student can be accessed on the US Department of State website.

The international officers of the school you’re applying to can also assist with questions about financial and other services necessary for settling into the city for studying.

How much does it cost to live in Los Angeles?

The general cost of living in Los Angeles is high, especially if you have an eye for the plushy things of life in that environment. So most students who is on a budget is better off being prudent in their spending and options when buying things. Expect to account for a total of $24,000 every year as expenses or expenditures while living in Los Angeles.

For example, the budget for international students in the USA experiences many required upfront costs including health insurance and visa fees.


If you are looking for the cheapest university in LA, I hope this article has been helpful. You should not neglect the information provided by university rankings.

Platforms that are dedicated to ranking universities based on various filters will provide you with a cohesive overview of how a university is performing across all considerations such as the institution’s fees, global position, commitment to sustainability and equality, and teaching quality.

What other universities in Los Angeles do you think would make this list as one of the cheapest institutions in the city without sacrificing reputation and quality of service?

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