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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. 

Get free guidance to study in the USA


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. $8,000 to $55,000 (USD) a year (indicative). 

Most commonly, humanities, arts and education 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 approx. $35,000 yearly (indicative).


Tuition fees in USD (indicative)

English language studies

$700 to $2,000 a month

Community colleges

$6,000 to $20,000 per year

bachelor degree

$20,000 to $40,000 per year

Graduate programs

$20,000 to $45,000 per year

Doctoral degree

$28,000 to $55,000 per year

Please note: An MBA degree can cost significantly more, as can professional programs such as law, medicine, dentistry, some design programs, etc. Most doctoral degrees are 100% funded through research/teaching assistantships, research aid and bursaries

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

(Note: Schedule a free appointment with IDP experts to understand how to manage your expenses in the US)

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 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.

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. The accommodation cost in the US varies by region and lies somewhere between $6,000 and $14,000 per year.

3. Cost of your student visa

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 as an application fee). Feel free to consult your IDP counsellor for latest updates and information on the visa application process and related costs. 

Read more: All about American student visa

4. Living expenses

You need to keep a little money aside for your grocery shopping, social activities and emergencies. When living in a foreign country as a student, it is better to keep track of your expenditures so that you do not overspend. 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:


Average yearly cost*

Books and Stationery

$500- $1000


$500- $1200



Clothes and footwear


Miscellaneous expenses


*Note: All costs indicative and vary from region to region

Calculate your how much it will cost to live in the U.S. using our cost-calculator tool

5. Keep safe. Consider health support and insurance

It is mandatory for all students travelling to the US from India to get 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 private medical insurance (your IDP counsellor will guide you with the same). Extensive health and support services are readily available for all Indian students in the US. As per the American College Health Association, the average cost of a student health insurance plan ranges between USD 1,500-2,500 for a year. 

Read more: Health and support services in the US

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. 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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Updated on June 25, 2020

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