California Offers In-State Tuition to Athletes Training for the L.A. Olympics

Team USA athletes training in California for the 2028 Los Angeles Olympics will qualify for in-state tuition at public universities and community colleges through 2032.
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  • Los Angeles will host the 2028 Summer Olympics.
  • California will offer in-state tuition to athletes training for the Olympic Games.
  • Athletes who move to California will get in-state tuition at California public universities and community colleges.

Elite athletes training for the 2028 Los Angeles Olympics will also have a chance to get a college degree — for a much more affordable cost, thanks to the state of California.

Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a bill in late September that would allow Team USA student-athletes training in the state to be classified as "residents" for college tuition and fee purposes until they have lived in California long enough to officially become residents.

Team USA student-athletes can get in-state tuition after they certify their participation in an Olympic or Paralympic elite-level training program with their chosen campus at California State University, the University of California, or the California Community Colleges, according to the bill text.

The legislation was initially sponsored by the Los Angeles Organizing Committee for the 2028 Olympic and Paralympic Games (LA28).

"Athletes are at the heart of what we do at the LA28 Games and there has never been a more important time to support athletes on and off the field of play," Janet Evans, five-time Olympic medalist and chief athlete officer for LA28, said in a statement to BestColleges.

"It's important to the 2028 Olympic and Paralympic Games and our partners to work towards providing a pathway to affordable education and long-term success for athletes beyond the Games."

Bringing the Bill to Life

Assemblymember Adrin Nazarian (D-North Hollywood), who chairs the Select Committee on the 2028 Olympic and Paralympic Games in the state Legislature, authored the bill.

Nazarian's legislative aide Vincenzo Caporale said the bill was, "simply the right thing to do," in a statement emailed to BestColleges.

"[Team USA] athletes have dedicated formative years to representing our country on the world stage," he said. "The least we can do is provide them with in-state tuition to pursue an education while they train so that they will have the education to fall back on when their Olympic career concludes."

“Athletes are at the heart of what we do at the LA28 Games and there has never been a more important time to support athletes on and off the field of play.”
— Janet Evans, five-time Olympic medalist and chief athlete officer for LA28
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Team USA, the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee (USOPC), the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic National Governing Body Council, and the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Athlete Advisory Council all endorsed the California legislation.

"For so many athletes, staying connected to their education (college, post-grad, etc.) is a grounding force, and it also allows them the balance (in) the pursuit of their athletic dreams without sacrificing future ambitions," Carrie White, Vice President of Athlete Development and Engagement of the USOPC, told BestColleges in a statement.

"Removing financial barriers to athletes considering higher education is a huge opportunity for them, and is directly in line with our mission of competitive excellence and well-being."

How It Will Affect California

While Olympic training schedules depend on each sport's national governing body, certain national teams and individuals, such as USA artistic swimming, are already training in California.

The U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee expects around 100 students will take advantage of the in-state tuition opportunity, according to Nazarian's office.

"The bill is expected to have a significant impact on Los Angeles and California by incentivizing top talent to come here for their Olympic training and schooling," Caporale said. "This is critical not only for a successful 2028 Olympics but also to potentially retain many of these talented individuals, California and Los Angeles will benefit well beyond the 2028 games."

“Tuition and fees for residents and nonresident students in California can vary substantially.”
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For the 2023-2024 academic year, the estimated average cost for a resident student living on a University of California campus is $41,052. For non-residents, the price increases to $73,626. Students attending California State University campuses pay $5,742 in base tuition and campus fees for the 2022-2023 academic year, but nonresidents have to pay an additional $396 per semester unit for "nonresident tuition."

White says that the cost of higher education combined with the vigorous time commitment makes college out of reach for some Olympic student-athletes.

"Some are able to stay connected remotely, [while] others take leave while they are training and competing. The demands on Olympic and Paralympic athletes can make it hard to find a balance that works …," she said. "The initial reaction is strong already, and we're thrilled to be able to offer this resource to Team USA."

Other Programs

Other states have also passed legislation to support Team USA student-athletes in higher education, according to the USOPC.

In 2017, Colorado passed similar legislation offering Team USA athletes who train in Colorado in-state tuition at state universities and community colleges, including the University of Colorado Boulder and the University of Colorado Colorado Springs.

Utah also offers in-state tuition at the University of Utah, Utah State University, and Salt Lake City Community College to Team USA athletes who live and train in the state.

"The beauty of this legislation is that it gives elite athletes more options and access to affordable education while they pursue their athletic dreams …," Evans said. "This is especially true for Paralympic hopefuls and Olympic hopefuls in non-NCAA sports who may not be eligible for athletic scholarships. This in-state tuition bill helps level the playing field for these hard-working elite athletes."