There was a lot of excitement, and plenty of tears as moms and dads set their children free. Parent Donna Nguyen said she cried a bit. Of course, she's "my little girl," she said.
But for some there was another emotion: anger. The anger is directed towards state politicians who they blame for a whopping 20 percent increase in tuition.
Parent Kathryn Dib blames a gridlocked Assembly which she says "can't come up with any reasonable budget for the state."
While the increase happened two years ago, it still stings. "I'm really concerned about finances. I think every student at Cal is. Tuition, boarding, books -- I mean the prices start to add up," said student Chasidy Miles.
The expenses add up to about $32,000 per year.
And the financial pain could get worse. According to the UC. Board of Regents, if the governor's ballot measure to raise taxes fails this November, students here could see charges shoot up as much as $2,400 more per year.
Friday was merely day one in these young people's college lives. Campus tours and workshops start on Monday. But regardless of their field of study, these new students have already learned one lesson -- a crash course in Econ 101.