"Although fees have gone up a lot lately, our fees are still lower than fees at public universities in other states," said Adrian Griffin, Ph.D., assistant director of the California Postsecondary Education Commission.
Illinois State University broke the five-figure barrier, with tuition more than $10,000 per year. Western schools like Arizona State University-Tempe and University of Colorado at Denver were in the $6,000-per-year range.
CSU tuition costs were in line with colleges like the University of Nevada-Reno at just under $5,000 a year.
For schools comparable to UC, University of Illinois and University of Michigan ranked highest, at $12,000 a year.
University of Virginia and UC were close to breaking the $10,000-per-year mark.
The best deal on the list is University of New York at Buffalo, at only $7,000 per year.
Students point out the study didn't look at the total cost of going to college, which means adding rent, books and food.
"It's still pretty expensive when you compare the cost of living in California compared to, say, Texas," said student Cal State student Mitchell Wilson. "Their tuition is a lot higher. But the cost of living is so much lower."
And some of those student protesters say they can't get the classes they want. So they end up going to school longer and paying even more tuition to graduate.
"I'm $40,000 in debt," said fifth-year CSU senior Robert Graham. "I had to take out $7,500 extra to pay for this year alone. That's $7,500 I otherwise wouldn't have had to have taken out."
A 15-percent increase has been approved for the University of California system, while a 10-percent hike is pending at CSU. Even then, California will still rank near the bottom when compared to other states.