The smartest path to the least expensive art education starts with the community college in your area. Los Angeles has many community colleges that offer two year programs in the arts. The cost to attend is low and admission is easy.
If you prefer a four year degree in the arts then state colleges are the best. An art degree from a state college will be the least expensive option for a graduate degree. Next in line are the colleges in the University of California system, like UCLA. UCLA only accepts top students, so you may want to start at a community college, get a quality portfolio together, and then transfer.
Private art colleges are the most expensive. Otis and CalArts cost two or three times as much as your other options. But schools like CalArts only consider your portfolio as a means of admissions. So for students who have a less than stellar G.P.A., but their portfolio is strong, a private college is an expensive but a noteworthy option.