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How much will it cost to study in the US?

Wondering how to manage your expenses in the US? Here’s our list of estimates to help!

Studying abroad can be an expensive affair for students studying in the US. However, an efficient budget plan can help you manage your living expenses more effectively. Before you depart from India, ensure that you consider expenses like accommodation, food, health coverage and travel along with your tuition fee when calculating the estimated cost of studying in the US.

1. Tuition fee is your prime expenditure

Universities in the US are majorly divided into two categories - Public/State and Private. The education cost at a public/state university is comparatively lesser than that of a private institution. Your expenditure on tuition fee depends on the type of qualification and university or school you opt for. To cover tuition fees, you will need approx. $10,000 to $55,000 (USD) a year (indicative).

Most commonly, humanities, education and arts courses are cheaper, while subjects such as medicine and engineering are likely to be more expensive. If you wish to study at postgraduate level, the tuition fees are typically higher and the costs vary depending on the program. As with most other countries, MBA programs are often the most expensive. The average cost for these programs is around $60,000 (indicative).

School

Indicative tuition fees (USD)

English language studies

$700 to $2,000 a month

Community colleges

$6,000 to $20,000 per year

Undergraduate
bachelor degree

$20,000 to $40,000 per year

Graduate programs

$20,000 to $30,000 per year (An MBA degree can cost significantly more, as can professional programs such as law, medicine, dentistry, some design programs, etc.)

Doctoral degree

$28,000 to $55,000 per year (Most doctoral degrees are 100% funded through research/teaching assistantships, research aid and bursaries.)


*Please note that all figures are indicative

If you want to bring down your educational expenses, it is best to apply to various scholarships available for Indian students.

2. Where will you live? Calculate accommodation costs

Most universities in the US offer on-campus residence to international students. Living as a resident on-campus is a very affordable option, however you need to apply for it separately, and well ahead in time to secure a slot for yourself. 

You can also opt for an off-campus accommodation wherein you can share apartments with other students from India or live in a homestay with a local family. In such cases, you should be open to adjusting to a different lifestyle than India. Remember, the rentals vary from city to city.

Accommodation costs can typically range between $3,000 and $8,000 per year (indicative) depending on the area you choose to stay. If you opt to rent an apartment, you will have to additionally pay for utility bills like electricity, internet, water usage and also tenant’s insurance (in some areas of housing). In most cases, universities help the students in finding accommodation, both on-campus as well as off-campus.
You can explore more about the accommodation options available to you in the US here.

3. Cost of your student visa

In order to study in the US, the first step is to secure a valid student visa and that comes with its own costs (approx. US$ 160). Find more information on visa application process and related cost here.

4. Living expenses

You need to keep a little money aside for your grocery shopping, social activities and emergency situations. When living in a foreign country as a student, it is better to keep a track of your expenditures so that you do not over spend. Considering various expenses and living costs, a single student budget in the US comes between US$ 10,000 and US$ 25,000 per academic year (indicative) depending on the city they choose to live. You should also consider these common expenses when creating your budget:

  • Communication expenses: As a student from India, you’d be frequently calling your friends and family back home. Therefore, always keep a section of your budget for phone bills and data expenses. Look for cost-effective calling plans and student discounts in order to stay connected with your loved ones within your monthly budget.
  • Books and supplies: Keep aside some anything between $500 and $1,500 for purchasing reference books. For instance, books for engineering, law, medicine and pharmacy can be pricey. You can manage this in your budget by opting for second hand books, buying digital versions or even securing a library membership.
  • Personal expenses and incidentals: Your daily expenses will include groceries ($250 annually), laundry, toiletries, clothing, dining out, etc. It’s best to keep aside $500 annually for incidentals such as travel, landline, and electricity. This depends entirely on the kind of lifestyle you choose for yourself.

5. Keep safe. Consider health support and insurance

It is mandatory for all students travelling to the US from India to get a medical insurance before the commencement of their program. Several American universities and colleges have initiated comprehensive health insurance plans for international students, but that is applicable as long your program is ongoing and ceases upon completion.

Certain institutions may not offer any insurance, and hence you will have to arrange for a private medical insurance (your IDP counsellor will guide you with the same). The average cost for medical insurance ranges between US$ 700 and US$ 1,000 per year (indicative). Extensive health and support services are readily available for all Indian students in the US. Read more about it here.

6. Transportation. Know how much it will cost to move around

Unless your institution provides with a shuttle service to-and-fro from your lodging, you’ll have to rely on the available public transport.

For short distances

You can make use of regional trains, buses, and subways. This can range anywhere between US$45 and $100 per month (approx. figure, subject to fluctuate with changing economy). It is a good idea to get monthly passes for travelling to college and back as these can be fairly cheap.

For long distances

For travelling between different cities, you can avail any of the following options:

  • Long-distance bus
  • Rail
  • Air

7. Don’t ignore your taxes

Indian students in the US are allowed to work 20 hours per week during academic sessions and full-time during vacations. If you choose to work along with your studies, your earned income may be taxable.

Remember, the exchange rate variations may also affect your budgeting. We suggest you also look for a part time job while you are studying in the US or seek scholarship in the universities you apply to. This can help lower your cost of studying abroad to a great extent.

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