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How much does it cost to study and live in USA for international students?

Learn about the cost of study, living expenses and most affordable universities in USA

Studying in USA can be expensive but planning your budget smartly can help you get a hold on your finances effectively. Check out our comprehensive guide about the cost of study, tuition fees, living expenses and the most affordable universities in USA, to help you plan well for your new life in USA!

How much does it cost to study in USA?

Universities in America 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 a year (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’s degree $20,000 to $40,000 per year
Graduate Programs $20,000 to $45,000 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

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).

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

What are the cheapest universities in USA for international students?

If you’re asking this question, then you should know that the answer depends on many factors, such as your preferred field of study, type of program or qualification, the university and its location. However, some universities offer lower tuition fees than others.

These are the most affordable USA universities for international students and their respective tuition fees for undergraduate programs

  University name State Undergraduate Annual Tuition Fees
for International Students
Key Programs
1 Arizona State University
(Lake Havasu campus)
Arizona $12,200 Business
Health Sciences
Social Sciences
2 Eastern Michigan University Michigan $13,000 Business
Health Sciences
3 Wichita State University Kansas $15,000 Engineering & Computer Science
Health Sciences
4 University of New Orleans New Orleans $15,200 Engineering & Computer Science
Health Sciences
Visual & Performing Arts
5 California State University Fresno California $16,100 Health Sciences
Architecture & Urban Planning
Engineering & Computer Science
6 California State University Northridge California $16,500 Engineering & Computer Science
Film & Television
7 California State University Long Beach California $16,500 Engineering & Computer Science
Social Sciences
Visual & Performing Arts
8 Cleveland State University Ohio $16,800 Engineering & Computer Science
Health Sciences
Social Sciences
9 University of Wyoming Wyoming $18,000 Visual & Performing Arts
Engineering & Computer Science
10 Indiana State University Indiana $20,150 Health Sciences
Engineering Technology
11 University of North Texas Texas $21,125 Engineering & Computer Science
Health Sciences
Visual & Performing Arts
12 University of Wisconsin Milwaukee Wisconsin $21,200 Health Sciences
Engineering & Computer Science
13 Kent State University Ohio $21,400 Health Sciences
Engineering & Computer Science
Visual & Performing Arts
14 Florida International University Florida $23,300 Hospitality & Tourism Management
Engineering & Computer Science
15 University of New Mexico New Mexico $24,000 Architecture & Urban Planning
Visual & Performing Arts
Health Sciences
Social Sciences

Accommodation costs in USA

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 international students or live in a homestay with a local family. In such cases, you should be open to adjusting to a different lifestyle. Remember, the rentals vary from city to city.

The table below shows the average costs of most accommodation options in USA. The prices are only indicative, as the average costs vary widely from state to state. Your IDP Education counsellor can help choose the best accommodation option that fits your budget.

Accommodation Type Average Cost in US Dollar
Hostels and Guesthouses $45 to $100 a night
Shared Rental $470 to $3,600 per month
On campus $800 to $900 each month
Homestay $600-$3,000 per month
Rental $450 per month

Cost of US 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. $160). Find more information on visa application process and related cost here.

What’s the cost of living in USA?

You need to keep a little money aside for your grocery shopping, social activities and emergency situations. Considering various expenses and living costs, a single student budget in the US comes between $ 10,000 and $ 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:

  • Internet/phone: $35 - 60
  • Food: $17 – 42 in average
  • Rent: $104 - 208
  • Electricity/gas: $50 – 100 in average
  • Transport: $36 in average

Check out more about living in top American cities: Washington, New York, Los Angeles, Boston, and Seattle.

Remember! When living in a foreign country as a student, it is better to keep a track of your expenditures so that you don’t overspend. Here are some tips to help you save your money when living abroad!

What’s the cost of health insurance in USA?

It is mandatory for all students travelling to the US 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. The average cost for medical insurance ranges between $700 and $1,000 per year (indicative). Find out more information about health insurance in USA.

Can I work in USA while studying?

Yes! In fact, this is a good way to earn some money for your expenses and get valuable work experience while studying abroad. International 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.

Kick start your journey to USA! Speak with your IDP Education counsellor now to turn your study ambition into action!

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