How much does college / universities cost?


The cost of studying in the United States is high especially if you are an international student. Tuition, housing, food, and entertainment expenses all add up. In this section we discuss what you can expect to pay in and what you can do to lower your expenses. We will also introduce you to budgeting which will give you a better picture of what you can afford.


The Tuition Bill

Tuition is the fee that students pay for enrolling in university courses. The cost varies significantly depending on the university, number of credits, and type of degree you are seeking. For a fulltime student, the tuition ranges from about $4,000 US Dollars up to $40,000 per year. The average cost will likely be somewhere between $10,000 and $15,000 annually for most universities. Review Picking the Right University for tips on how to evaluate universities. Also refer to the Reputation and Quality of Universities for a discussion of what more expensive institutions have to offer.


Cost of Housing

Housing is usually the second largest expense that students will have. Depending on whether you live on or off campus, this expense can vary a great deal. On campus housing costs between $4,000 and $14,000 but a meal plan is usually included. The average cost will likely be closer to $4,000 than $14,000. As a new international student we recommend that you stay in the dormitories the first semester. It will give you a chance to get more familiar with the university, its surroundings, and make some new friends.

If you prefer an apartment, it is recommended that you arrive some time before your first semester starts. This will give you time to look around and compare different choices. Keep in mind that if you didn’t sign up for the dormitory and you cannot locate an apartment in your price range, it could be difficult to get space in the dorms. You should try to get a feel for how much apartments cost, what units are available, and how close they are to the university. Try to locate an apartment and to determine the distance to the university. You can also find ads for people looking for room-mates posted on university bulletin boards. Craigslist is another popular site where you could be lucky finding someone to live with.


Books & Material

Books and other materials will likely end up costing several hundred dollars per semester. You can save some money by trying to get hold of used copies from other students. Some professors have several books listed in their syllabus but will sometimes only use some of them. You will usually get a feel for the professor’s teaching style during the first class session. A student who has already had an instructor can often give you more insight into teaching style, readings, grading, and difficulty of the course.



Depending on where in the USA you will live, air fares will vary greatly. Many international students like to go back during the holidays. Unfortunately, this is also the high season for air travel which makes fares more expensive. Buy your ticket well in advance to save money. Count on spending between $1,000 to $3,000 per year for travel.



Most universities require their students to purchase insurance. It is very important that you have at least medical coverage but it is also recommended that you get a more comprehensive package that might protect you against other accidents. Emergency medical services are extremely expensive and could end up costing you thousands of dollars without insurance. It is always better to be safe than sorry. You should figure about $500 to $800 per year for this type of coverage. Check with a few larger insurance companies in your country to see if they offer insurance for students going to the United States. The university often also recommends insurance that you can purchase.


Other Expenses

You will of course have other types of expenses including clothing, entertainment, eating out, and anything else you might need money for. Try to estimate your miscellaneous expenses before you leave to make sure that they will fit your budget.


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