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What Does it Cost to Attend California Institute of Technology?

Funding a college education is not an easy feat for many families. This is due in part to the rising costs of college; one report by CNN estimates that by 2016, the average family was paying $56,840 for a four-year degree from a public institution and $104,400 from a private university.


Rising costs aren’t the only thing that make funding a college education hard to tackle. Another reason that paying for college can become a confusing or even frustrating process is the unpredictable nature of college costs. Many variables affect the ultimate out-of-pocket expenses, making these costs hard to budget for. Luckily, by looking closely at some of these factors, we can make more accurate predictions for specific college expenses.


In this series of posts, we analyze the costs of attending over 1,000 schools to help families zero in on how much they can expect to pay. If you’re interested in learning more about the cost of attending the California Institute of Technology, you won’t want to miss this post.  


Why Are College Costs So Variable?


College costs vary widely because of the large number of factors impacting them. Everything from the specific college, the family’s income, and how much financial aid or merit scholarships a student receives will affect the final amount that a family pays out of pocket.


One of the largest factors in college costs is a college’s list price. This is essentially the all-inclusive cost of attending a college and it generally encompasses full-time tuition, room and board, and required fees like registration or library cards. The list price is also sometimes referred to as the sticker price. When you compare the sticker prices at different schools, be sure to consider what exactly is included—at some schools with a high number of commuter students, certain expenses like room and board may not be automatically added.


Few families actually pay the sticker price at most colleges due to other sources of funding. Therefore, it can be more helpful to look at a college’s average net cost instead. This is the average amount that families typically pay for their students to attend the school. Net cost is affected by three different factors. These factors are government aid (federal, state, and local), institutional financial aid, and outside merit scholarships. These three factors will vary based on a student’s accomplishments and a family’s income, so net cost will also vary greatly. Looking at average net cost, however, can still provide more information than a sticker price does.


What is the List Price at California Institute of Technology?


The list price at Caltech was $66,774 in 2016-2017. Because Caltech is a private institution, the list price does not vary based on a student’s state of residence. It’s worth noting that few students actually pay the entire list price. Those who can expect to pay list price are students from families with a combined annual income of $175k or more.


What Is the Average Net Cost of Attending California Institute of Technology?


At Caltech, the average net cost of attendance after financial aid was $56,220 in 2016-2017 . Again, Caltech’s status as a private school means that students pay the same whether they are in-state or out-of-state.


For students who did not qualify for financial aid, the average net cost was $66,686.


What is the Cost Based on Income of Attending California Institute of Technology?


Because net cost is most directly associated with a family’s income, it can help to see how much families pay as broken down by income bracket.


At California Institute of Technology, the cost of attending based on family income is as follows:


Family Income Average Net Price
$0-$30,000 $3,544
$30,001-$48,000 $5,652
$48,001-$75,000 $6,781
$75,001-$110,000 $20,077
$110,000+ $42,977

How Much Merit Aid is Awarded at California Institute of Technology?


Admissions at Caltech are competitive, so the pool of accepted students is already very selective. As is typical of schools like this, no merit aid is awarded.


How Many Students Take Out Loans to Attend California Institute of Technology?


Taking out a loan to pay for their education is not uncommon for students at Caltech. In 2016-2017, 53% of students had loans. The average federal student loan per undergraduate student at is $1,289 total across all four years.


Student Outcomes at Caltech


Thinking of a college degree as a long-term investment can lend helpful perspective for students and families considering the costs. A person with a college degree can expect to have a much higher earning potential than someone without one, and this difference compounds over time. Student outcomes can help give you an idea of what kind of return you can expect from your investment.


At Caltech, 89% of students graduate within six years of beginning their degrees, and the average salary ten years after graduation is $85,900.


Local Area Cost Considerations


Although tuition, fees, and room and board will make up the bulk of your student’s college costs, local area cost of living will also affect how much money your family spends during the course of a college degree. Expenses like transportation, groceries, and housing (if your student lives off campus) can really add up over time.


Caltech is located in Pasadena, CA where the cost of living is well above the national average. In fact, in Pasadena, housing is about four times the national average and transportation costs are roughly twice the national average. Students who consider living off-campus will need to be prepared to pay about $1390 for a studio apartment or nearly $3000 for a three-bedroom.


Other Ways to Pay for College


Financial aid accounts for the majority of college funding assistance, but other options exist too. Scholarships are a great way to help pay for college, and students who know where to look might find that these can provide a significant boost.


The National Merit Scholarship Program is the most widely-recognized scholarship program in the country. Students can qualify during their junior year of high school by taking the PSAT and outscoring 99% of their peers. Other students in this program also gain recognition and scholarships through the National Hispanic Recognition Program, or through specific corporations or individual colleges. You can find more information about the program in our post How to Qualify for the National Merit Scholarship Program.


There are thousands of scholarships available across the country, ranging in scope from national awards with huge pools of applicants to smaller, local programs or specialized niches. You can learn more about some of the scholarship options that exist in these popular CollegeVine posts:



Curious about your chances of acceptance to your dream school? Our free chancing engine takes into account your GPA, test scores, extracurriculars, and other data to predict your odds of acceptance at over 500 colleges across the U.S. We’ll also let you know how you stack up against other applicants and how you can improve your profile. Sign up for your free CollegeVine account today to get started!

Kate Sundquist
Senior Blogger

Short Bio
Kate Koch-Sundquist is a graduate of Pomona College where she studied sociology, psychology, and writing before going on to receive an M.Ed. from Lesley University. After a few forays into living abroad and afloat (sometimes at the same time), she now makes her home north of Boston where she works as a content writer and, with her husband, raises two young sons who both inspire her and challenge her on a daily basis.