Caltech Tuition and Financial Aid


This guide is designed to answer one question for you: How are you going to afford California Institute of Technology?

You probably know that planning for expenses is an important part of the college application process. What you may not know is how many different things you need to keep track of to pay tuition and apply for financial aid.

Here's what we'll cover:

  • How much does Caltech tuition cost?
  • How much financial aid do students at Caltech usually get?
  • How much debt is typical for students at Caltech?
  • How much will Caltech cost YOU, and can you actually afford it?
  • Is Caltech a good value for you?
  • What are other schools that might be a better value than Caltech?

By learning more about expenses and aid, you’re already on the right path to managing college costs. Let’s get started!


School location: Pasadena, CA

This school is also known as: California Institute of Technology

How Much Does Caltech Cost?

Knowing what a school costs is Step #1 in managing college costs. There’s more to think about than just the tuition—you also have to factor in where you'll live, what you'll eat, and more while attending California Institute of Technology.

The "Cost of Attendance" is the total amount of money the average student has to pay, WITHOUT any financial aid, to attend a particular school. Think of it as a school’s sticker price. It includes not just Caltech tuition and fees, but also room, board, textbooks, and personal expenses.

Here’s the Cost of Attendance breakdown for Caltech:

  • Tuition and Fees $41538 $41538
  • Room $7035
  • Board $5472
  • Textbooks $1323
  • Other Expenses $3387

  • Typical Total Cost for On-Campus Students Typical Total Cost for On-Campus Students $58755 $58755
  • Typical Total Cost for Off-Campus Students Typical Total Cost for Off-Campus Students $58296 $58296

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How Much Financial Aid Do Students at Caltech Get?

The Cost of Attendance listed above might be intimidating. The good news is that most students don’t end up paying that full price to attend Caltech. Financial aid helps make up the difference between the Cost of Attendance and what families can actually afford.

Here we'll cover how many students get Caltech financial aid, what types of aid they get, and how much.


A Brief Intro to Financial Aid

Aid comes in many forms, including:

  • Need-based grants
  • Merit-based scholarships
  • Student loans

This financial aid comes from a few different places:

  • Federal aid comes from the federal government, or is subsidized by the federal government.
  • Institutional aid comes from your school itself.

Generally, it’s better for MORE students to receive HIGH amounts of financial aid—this means students pay less for college.

Let’s take a look at how Caltech compares to other schools.


Overall Aid

Let's start with the overall numbers. At Caltech, we know that:

73% of Students Get ANY Aid

This is 19% LOWER than the average for Private not-for-profit schools, which is 92%.

This could be bad news - fewer students getting aid could mean students are paying more at Caltech than they would at other similar schools. It could also mean students attending Caltech are wealthier and need less aid.

To break this apart, we'll next look at each type of aid and how much students get from each.


Grants and Scholarships

We’re focusing on grants and scholarships first because they’re the most important forms of financial aid. Grants and scholarships are better than loans because students don’t ever have to pay them back. The more grant/scholarship aid students receive at a particular school, the better off those students are in the long run.

At California Institute of Technology, we know that:

54% Get ANY Grant Money

This is 35% LOWER than the average for Private not-for-profit schools, which is 89%.

Although it’s useful to know how many students get grant aid, it’s also important to know how much grant aid people tend to receive. The bigger the average grant award, the better.

So how much grant money do students at Caltech tend to receive?

Average Grant Award: $32074

This is $15586 HIGHER than the average for Private not-for-profit schools, which is $16488.

Altogether, this is mixed news - at Caltech, FEWER students get aid, but the ones who do get MORE than average. If you qualify for aid, this can work out well, since you'll get a sizable award. But it might be harder for you to qualify for Caltech financial aid.


How Generous is Caltech’s Financial Aid?

The grant dollar amounts we’ve seen so far have included aid from all sources - both federal and institutional. Schools don’t have much control over how much federal aid students can qualify for (like Pell Grants), but they do their own financial aid dollars and how they’re used.

To figure out how strong Caltech’s own financial aid program is, we’ll look at how they award their own (non-federal) financial aid dollars. The more students receive aid directly from the school (otherwise known as institutional aid), and the bigger the award amounts, the better the financial aid program.

Let’s see how generous California Institute of Technology is with its students:

54% Get ANY School Grants

This is 28% LOWER than the average for Private not-for-profit schools, which is 82%.

Because Caltech gives a smaller percentage of its students institutional grants than similar schools, it may offer less competitive financial aid.

Some schools may claim to offer large amounts of aid to prospective students without advertising that much of this money may come in the form of student loans - money that you have to pay back. To figure out if this is the case, check out our following section on student loan debt at Caltech.


The amount of money that students actually get is just as important (if not more important) than the percent of students who get grants. If you receive a grant, you’ll want it to be big enough to do you some good.

Average School Grant: $30264

This is $16465 HIGHER than the average for Private not-for-profit schools, which is $13799.

Right away, it seems like California Institute of Technology offers more institutional aid than other schools. On the surface, this can mean that students who do receive institutional grants get a competitive amount, compared to other schools.

On the other hand, this can also mean that the school just costs more than the typical school of its type. If Caltech costs more, it makes sense for the average grant award to be higher.


Up to this point, we've looked entirely at grants for Caltech. Next, we'll do the same analysis for student loans, which is where student debt comes from.


How Much Debt is Typical for Students at Caltech?

Aside from grants, the other major way to pay for college is with student loans. Student loans aren’t free sums of money - you borrow a certain amount to attend Caltech, and then pay it back with smaller monthly payments after you graduate.

The more student loan money you borrow, the more debt you’ll end up with after graduation. Ideally, you want to minimize your student debt as much as possible. Less debt means less of a financial burden once you leave school.

It’s generally a bad sign if a school has many students taking out a lot of loans. This indicates that graduates have to worry about paying back big sums of money once they leave school.

To address the amount and type of debt that students take on, this section will cover:

  • Loan Overview
  • Federal Loans
  • Other Loans

Let’s see what students at Caltech have to deal with:

Loan Overview

First, let’s talk about how many students at Caltech actually have to take out any student loans at all. The ideal goal is to graduate with little to no debt.

It’s very common for college grads in the US to graduate with some debt, but high percentages of students taking on loans at a particular school is a big red flag. In contrast, low percentages of students with loans is a sign that Caltech tuition is affordable.

So how many students actually end up taking out loans at Caltech?

27% Have ANY Loans

This is 39% lower than the average for Private not-for-profit schools, which is 66%.

It's a great sign that the loan percentage is so low at Caltech - in fact, Caltech is in the top 10% of schools in terms of how many students have to take out loans. This usually means the school has a strong financial aid program, and grants are enough to pay for the cost of college.

Chances are, if you attend Caltech, you won't have to take out loans yourself, which means you won't graduate with student debt.

Next, we'll look at exactly HOW much debt the average person takes out while in school.


Federal Loans

Now that you have a handle on the basic loan information for Caltech, we’ll get into some more nitty-gritty information on the types and amounts of loans that students typically have.

We’ll start with federal loans because, in general, federal loans are preferable to private loans. Federal loans tend to have low interest rates, which means they cost less in the long run. They may come with other perks (like subsidization or even options for loan forgiveness).

High percentages or amounts of federal loans still isn’t a great sign - again, you don’t want to see students burdened with too much debt. Generally, schools with strong financial aid programs will have students with more federal loans than private loans.

Let’s see how Caltech stacks up:

25% Have Federal Loans

At California Institute of Technology, 25% of all students take out federal loans. This is 40% LOWER than the average percent of students for Private not-for-profit schools, which is 65%.


Average Federal Loan: $4561

At Caltech, the average annual federal loan amount is $4561. This amount is $1516 LESS than the average for Private not-for-profit schools, which is $6077.


Other Private Loans

Other loans, or private loans, are the last resource students turn to when paying for college. They’re the least preferable form of financial aid because they have higher interest rates and cost students the most money in the long run.

Generally, the fewer students who take private loans, and the lower the amount of the loan, the more affordable Caltech is.

Let’s take a look at the percentage of students at Caltech with non-federal loans:

3% Have Private Loans

At California Institute of Technology, 3% of students take out private loans. This is 6% LOWER than the average for Private not-for-profit schools, which is 9%


Just as important as the percentage of students with private loans is the average loan amount. The smaller the average loan amount, the better:

Average Private Loan: $12366

The average private loan amount at Caltech is $12366. This is $922 HIGHER than the average for Private not-for-profit schools, which is $11444.


The percentage of students getting federal loans is greater than those getting private loans, which is a good sign. This means lower-interest federal loans are usually enough to pay for Caltech.

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What Would It Cost YOU to Attend Caltech?

Finally, we get to the bottom line: what will Caltech actually cost YOU? Every family has a different situation, and depending on your income level, you'll have to pay more or less to go to college.

What is Net Price, and Why Does it Matter?

Above, we've covered Caltech's Cost of Attendance (tuition, room and board, books, and more). We also covered its typical financial aid in grants, loans, and scholarships.

The Net Price is the total cost minus the total aid given. In other words, this is the price you have to pay to the school out of pocket. The lower the school's cost, and the more aid you get, the lower the Net Price.

We'll cover two ways to get your Net Price for Caltech - the fast way, and the precise way.

Net Price: The Quick and Easy Way

If you want a quick, general idea of your annual Net Price at Caltech, here's a handy chart showing the net price of real students. All you need is your family income.

If your family makes between... Your Net Price will likely be around...
$0 - $30,000 $9110
$30,001 - $48,000 $8225
$48,001 - $75,000 $13343
$75,001 - $110,000 $24871
$110,000 and up $37388

Note that these values may be a few years old, and today's prices may be a bit higher.

As we'll discuss next, your exact Net Price will depend on other factors like the number of family members and total assets, but this represents the typical Net Price.


Net Price: The Most Accurate Method

Most schools have an updated Net Price calculator available. To find it, just google "Caltech Net Price Calculator" - the official tool should be one of the top search results.

Often the school will ask for more information than just income:

  • The number of people in your household
  • The number of family members in college
  • Parental wages, income, and assets
  • Student wages, income, and assets

This will take 10-15 minutes to complete, and you'll get a specific net price that's more accurate than the table above.


Can You Afford to Attend Caltech?

Once you have a Net Price estimate, you’ll want to figure out whether your family can afford to pay Caltech tuition and costs. Once again, the Net Price is the total cost of attending, minus the aid you can expect to get (grants and scholarships). It's the amount you'd have to cover yourself.

The US government has come up with a standardized way to calculate how much a typical family can afford to pay without help. They call this the Expected Family Contribution, or EFC.

As an example, a family that brings home $80,000 in income before taxes, with no assets and no other children in college, has an EFC of around $7,000. This is the amount the government thinks that family can reasonably pay, and the school will have to step in and cover the rest.

Colleges use this number as a guideline to decide how much aid to give you, but it's just a guideline. Some schools will be stingier with aid, and you'll have to pay more than the government's suggested EFC.

So we're going to calculate your EFC and compare it to Caltech's Net Price. If the Net Price is higher than the EFC, the school will cost more than you can typically afford. It's a simple equation:

Net Price - Expected Family Contribution = Deficit (extra cost you would need to cover)

We've constructed a simple tool to figure out whether Caltech is affordable for you:


Affordability Calculator

This tool will calculate your Expected Family Contribution, or EFC. In order to calculate this amount, we need just 4 pieces of information from you. We won't save this data.

1) What is your family’s gross income before taxes?

2) What is your family’s net worth? Include cash, investments, and net worth of businesses. Don't include the value of your home.

3) How many people are in your family in total?


4) Finally, how many people in your family are currently in college, including you but not including your parents?


Your Affordability Results

According to the information you’ve entered above, your Expected Family Contribution should be about $. This is the amount that the federal government thinks you can afford to pay for school.

Please note this tool is only an approximation, and your personal situation may cause your EFC to vary. The most accurate way to get EFC is to use the FAFSA Caster tool, which can take 10-15 minutes to complete.

The typical Net Price at Caltech for your income level is $.

The difference between the Net Price and your Expected Family Contribution is $ , which is the amount you’d have to make up for in outside scholarships, loans, a job, or other methods of payment. , which is negative and means the net price is below what your family can comfortably afford.

Unfortunately, it looks like your estimated Net Price to attend California Institute of Technology is significantly greater than your EFC. This means Caltech may be more expensive than what your family can comfortably afford by at least $10,000 per year.

This doesn’t mean that it’s financially impossible to attend this school. Your EFC may be higher from our quick estimate above. Also, you may be able to cover much of your expenses with loans, outside scholarships, or a job.

But over four years, $ is still a sizable amount, and if you have to take out loans, it may take many years to pay off.

Therefore, it's still worthwhile to consider your options. Is Caltech really the best value education? Are there more affordable schools that can also give you a better education? We'll discuss this next.

It looks like your estimated Net Price to attend California Institute of Technology is higher than your calculated Expected Family Contribution, but by a reasonable amount that's between $5,000 and $10,000 per year.

This is good news! Paying for Caltech may be feasible with minor cost-cutting, a part-time job, or outside scholarships.

Over four years, $ is still a significant amount, but a manageable amount to pay off even if you took out loans.

It's still useful to use the school's official Net Price calculator to figure this out, but things are looking good. And even though you can afford Caltech, it's still worthwhile to consider whether there are any schools that will offer even more value. We'll discuss this next.

Hooray! It looks like your estimated Net Price to attend California Institute of Technology is just a tad higher than your Expected Family Contribution, below $5,000 a year.

This is great news! It means attending Caltech is feasible for you by taking out a small amount of loans, or possibly working a part-time job. Over four years, $ is still a significant amount to cover, but manageable to pay off with your job after college, even if you took out loans.

It's still useful to search for the official Net Price calculator at Caltech to get the most accurate estimate, but you're in good shape.

Even though you can afford Caltech, when making such an important financial decision, it’s important to think about the actual value of the education. Are there any schools of higher value than Caltech? We'll find out more below.

Great news! Your Net Price to attend California Institute of Technology is less than your Expected Family Contribution. This means your family should be able to afford the cost of college without much of a problem.

You can pay for college through a variety of ways. For example, your family can pay out of pocket, and you'll graduate without loans. Or, if you want to be more independent, you can still take out loans or take a part-time job to pay for part of the costs. In any case, you should be in good financial shape to attend Caltech.

Since we've been using estimations so far, it's still useful for you to look for Caltech's official Net Price calculator to double-check our math.

Even though you can comfortably afford Caltech, it’s important to think about the value of the education you’ll be receiving as well. What schools offer a better education than Caltech or are even more affordable? We'll find out below.


Finally: Is This Price Really Worth It?

Chances are, college won't be cheap. Even if you have a few top choice schools in mind like Caltech, it's still useful to explore broadly.

A few questions to ponder:

  • How much better off will you be if you attend Caltech as opposed to a similar, but cheaper, school?
  • Have you considered a range of private and public schools? Big and small?
  • What if you didn't attend college at all? (This is extreme, but just worth considering even for a second.
These are the big picture questions to consider when we talk about the value of a college education.


Here's our take: college will be a really important stage in your development. Going to a better, more reputable college will usually pay off in the long run. By going to a better college, you'll be surrounded by a more interesting community, find it easier to land a job, and open up opportunities.

To determine the value of Caltech, we're going to rely on reputable ranking lists. These consider factors like reputation, student selectivity, income after graduating, and more to determine the value of a school.


Value Judgment

So how does Caltech stack up?

Top Of The Line

Based on its ranking and cost, California Institute of Technology is in the very top category of high-value schools.

First and foremost, Caltech is already one of the best colleges in the nation, and often this means world-class opportunities that are well worth the cost. If you graduate from this school, you'll find yourself very competitive in your career.

But beyond this, Caltech has a best-in-class financial aid program. To support lower income students, top schools like Caltech provide substantial need-based grants, sometimes reducing the cost of college to nearly zero.

When you combine world-class reputation with great financial aid, you get an extremely high-value school like California Institute of Technology. If you can get in, the experience can be life changing.

How Do You Get In?

Given how strong Caltech is, it can be tough to get in. You'll need excellent grades, test scores, and extracurricular activities to stand out.

Since you're aiming for one of the top schools, you might be interested in our popular guide, How to Get Into Harvard and the Ivy League, by our founder and Harvard alum Allen Cheng. You'll get an inside look on what schools like Caltech are looking for and how you can build an amazing application.

How do you compare to other students accepted to Caltech? Check out our Admissions Guide to Caltech.



What Other Schools Should You Consider?

Your next step should be to get a better idea of costs and aid availability at similar schools. If you’re interested in Caltech, you should check out some other high-value schools that could give you more bang for your buck. Get started here to check both in-state and out-of-state schools that might provide a better value.



Better Value Schools

Finally, we're going to look at schools that might offer a better value than California Institute of Technology. To compile this list, we first find schools at similar academic levels, so you have a similar chance at getting in. Then we select schools that better value for you, by being more affordable or having a higher quality of education

It’s hard to know exactly what schools will be a great value for you without information on your family income. Enter your family income here for the best recommendations for schools:

In-State Schools

There are a lot of potential financial benefits that come with attending a school close to home. For example, in-state public schools tend to have subsidized tuitions for state residents. Students may also have the chance to save money if they choose to stay at home.

If you’re looking for good deals on schools in your state, you should start by checking out the following colleges and universities:

School Name Location SAT ACT GPA
Claremont McKenna College Claremont, CA 1490 32 4.09
Stanford University Stanford, CA 1465 33 3.95
Pomona College Claremont, CA 1450 32 4.01
Harvey Mudd College Claremont, CA 1520 34 4.15
Claremont McKenna College Claremont, CA 1490 32 4.09
Stanford University Stanford, CA 1465 33 3.95
Pomona College Claremont, CA 1450 32 4.01
Scripps College Claremont, CA 1384 32 4.11
Pomona College Claremont, CA 1450 32 4.01
University of California, Berkeley Berkeley, CA 1430 32 3.87
Harvey Mudd College Claremont, CA 1520 34 4.15
Stanford University Stanford, CA 1465 33 3.95
Pomona College Claremont, CA 1450 32 4.01
University of California, Berkeley Berkeley, CA 1430 32 3.87
Harvey Mudd College Claremont, CA 1520 34 4.15
Claremont McKenna College Claremont, CA 1490 32 4.09
Stanford University Stanford, CA 1465 33 3.95
Pomona College Claremont, CA 1450 32 4.01

Out-of-State Schools

You can still get a good value on your education if you choose to attend an out-of-state school, especially if you qualify for generous financial aid.

If you’re interested in getting an education out-of-state, start by checking out the following colleges and universities:

School Name Location SAT ACT GPA
Harvard College Cambridge, MA 1520 34 4.1
Massachusetts Institute of Technology Cambridge, MA 1528 34 4.16
Vanderbilt University Nashville, TN 1475 34 3.8
Duke University Durham, NC 1485 33 4.08
Dartmouth College Hanover, NH 1478 32 4.07
Grinnell College Grinnell, IA 1410 32 3.94
Cornell University Ithaca, NY 1470 33 4.05
Harvard College Cambridge, MA 1520 34 4.1
Washington and Lee University Lexington, VA 1410 32 3.94
Carleton College Northfield, MN 1445 33 4.0
Grinnell College Grinnell, IA 1410 32 3.94
Harvard College Cambridge, MA 1520 34 4.1
Washington and Lee University Lexington, VA 1410 32 3.94
University of Pennsylvania Philadelphia, PA 1490 33 3.93
Vanderbilt University Nashville, TN 1475 34 3.8
Smith College Northampton, MA 1390 32 3.94
Washington University in St. Louis St. Louis, MO 1505 33 4.12
Harvard College Cambridge, MA 1520 34 4.1
Washington and Lee University Lexington, VA 1410 32 3.94
Williams College Williamstown, MA 1468 33 4.05
Harvard College Cambridge, MA 1520 34 4.1
Massachusetts Institute of Technology Cambridge, MA 1528 34 4.16
University of Pennsylvania Philadelphia, PA 1490 33 3.93
Amherst College Amherst, MA 1492 33 4.09
Georgia Institute of Technology Atlanta, GA 1295 32 3.98

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