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Fresno, California BAH Rates, Education, Cost of Living

Find housing, employment, cost-of-living, and BAH rates for Fresno, CA. Listed below are BAH Rates, college and universities, cost-of-living information, school resources for children of military families, and things to see and do in the Sacramento area.

Some of the military installations that are proximal to Fresno include:

Fresno Colleges & Universities

The Fresno area is home to several colleges and universities. This is a partial list.

The state of California offers a College Fee Waiver for Veteran Depends benefit program that waives tuition and fees for public colleges and universities throughout the state. Discover more information about the multiple plans offered under this program.

To find more Fresno area schools, use the free CollegeRecon School Finder tool.

Using your GI Bill in Fresno

Anyone considering using the Post 9/11 GI Bill in Fresno, you should know the following:

  • You may be eligible for Monthly Housing Allowance (MHA) if you are a full-time student.
  • MHA is comparable to the Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH) for an E-5 with dependents.
  • MHA is calculated based on the zip code of where you physically attend most of your classes.
  • Those attending only online classes receive a set MHA of approximately $1,054 (in 2023)
  • Up to $1,000 is available each year for books and supplies.
  • The Post 9/11 GI Bill can be transferred to a spouse or dependents but you must still be on active duty to transfer.
  • The Yellow Ribbon Program offers financial support in specific situations where the GI Bill does not fully cover the cost of tuition at participating colleges

Cost of Living in Fresno

Fresno is situated in the San Joaquin Valley of central California. Compared to other metro areas in California, Fresno has a lower cost of living, making it a favorable place to call home. According to BestPlaces, Fresno has a cost of living score of 103.7 percent, which is 3.7 percent higher than the national average, and 30.8 percent lower than the state average.

In Fresno, the cost of housing, groceries, and transportation are lower than the state average, but the overall cost of utilities is more expensive coming in at 112.4 percent compared to the state average of 102.4 percent.


  • Overall – 103.7
  • Housing – 108.5
  • Groceries – 99.2
  • Transportation – 101.7
  • Utilities – 112.4

Other categories to consider

  • Healthcare
  • Childcare
  • Taxes

Fresno Housing

Fresno is a budget-friendly city in California that offers its residents affordable, diverse and dynamic neighborhoods to live in. According to RentCafe, the average rent in Fresno is $1,559 and the average apartment size is 904 sq. ft.

Some of the most popular neighborhoods in Fresno include:

  • Downtown Fresno – Median Rent $1,950
  • Bullard – Median Rent $1,600
  • Roosevelt- Median Rent $1,374
  • West Side – Median Rent $1,570
  • Woodward Park – Median Rent $1,885

Other popular neighborhoods in Fresno include: Tower District, McLane, Mural District, and Edison.

According to Realtor.com, the median sale price for a home in Fresno is $385,000 and the market is a seller’s market, meaning that there are more people looking to buy than homes available.

To learn more about VA Loan Program benefits, you can get a free eligibility assessment from our VA loan partner.

Primary Education in Fresno

Access to primary education is an important consideration for parents with school age children. There are currently no DoDEA schools in Greater Fresno, however there are many top primary schools in the area.

According to Greatschools.org, some of the top primary schools in Fresno include:

  • Manchester Gate
  • Malloch Elementary School
  • Akira Yokomi Elementary School
  • Susan B. Anthony Elementary School
  • Jefferson Elementary School

Employment Opportunities in Fresno

Fresno is home to a diverse set of industries that provide ample employment opportunities for people of all backgrounds. The Fresno area is also centrally located between major employment markets in Northern and Southern California through the major transportation corridors of CA-99 and I-5, which expands access to employment opportunities.

According to the Fresno Economic Development Corporation, some of the top industries in the area include:

  • Manufacturing
  • Logistics
  • Energy and Water Technology
  • Agriculture
  • IT

Top employers in the area include: Zacky Farms, PG&E, InfraRoad Trading & Contracting, Community Medical Centers, and Amazon. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the unemployment rate in Fresno as of March 2024 was 9.1 percent.

Things To Do in Fresno

The Fresno area is full of fun and interesting things to do for people of all ages. It has a vibrant cultural scene and access to famous National Parks.

Some of the best things to do in Fresno include:

  • Visiting the Legion of Valor Veterans Museum, which is a veteran run institution that is home to a large collection of military objects.
  • Spending a day exploring the arts and culture scene by visiting the Fresno Art Museum or catching a show at the Tower Theatre.
  • Getting in touch with our nation’s stunning natural heritage by visiting Yosemite, Kings Canyon, and Sequoia National Parks.
  • Visiting the Forestiere Underground Gardens to experience the unique underground oasis and artistry of the historic site.
  • Having a day of family fun at the Fresno Chaffee Zoo, which is home to over 190 unique animals. Visitors can enjoy unique attractions such as the Dino Dig, Sea Lion Cove, and Stingray Bay.

About the author

Sarah Tucci

Sarah is a Philadelphia-based writer. She comes to CollegeRecon with an interdisciplinary background in international relations and cultural heritage with an interest in understanding the intersection of armed conflict and cultural heritage, particularly in Eastern and Southeastern Europe. When not writing for CollegeRecon, Sarah enjoys traveling, watching documentaries, and hanging out with her beloved Pitbull, Brutus.