No doubt about it, studying in the United States isn't cheap. However, nearly a half million international students each year consider an education in this country more than worth the investment.
How much will a college education actually cost? It depends a lot on the choices that you make. Will you study at a community college (least expensive), public university (less expensive) or private elite college (most expensive)?
- Compare college costs between various schools.
- Will you live on campus or off? It is usually less expensive to live on campus, where you won't be required to pay for electricity, utility and other charges.
- Where in the country will you study? In a more expensive city like San Francisco, Boston or New York? Or, in a moderately priced area in the southeastern or
Midwestern parts of the country?
All these decisions will significantly influence your costs. Regardless of where you study, however, some expenses will stay relatively constant — such as book costs and service fees.
When you apply to a school, you must prove that you have enough money for the entire time you will be in this country. This is a very important step especially for getting a student visa. Remember that international students may work no more than 20 hours a week on campus, which won't be enough to pay for your expenses. That's why it so critical that you have enough money before you come here to study.
Understand the Costs
Direct Costs: These are typically charges paid to the college or university.
- Tuition: This is the cost of your classes, which is often based on the number of credit hours you will take during a certain period. This information is provided from the school's admission office.
- Fees: Schools often charge fees for services, activities and facilities. This usually includes things like medical insurance, computer use and athletics facilities.
- Room and Board: The costs for living and eating on campus are additional. It is typically less expensive to live in a school dormitory than an off campus apartment or house. These fees tend to be more expensive in large cities than in rural or suburban areas, because the cost of living is higher.
Indirect Costs: These are expenses associated with attending a school, but they aren't necessarily paid to the college or university. Indirect costs are easier to control than direct costs.
- Books and Supplies: These expenses can vary considerably, depending on your field of study. Some classes — such as art, architecture and design — may require more supplies than others. One way to save money is to purchase used
- Transportation: Will you live on campus, or will you be driving everyday to school? If you'll be driving, don't forget about car insurance. You'll also want to check whether the school offers free parking. How convenient is public transportation, such as buses or subway trains? Do you plan to travel home to your native country often? How about other travel during school holidays? All these factors should be considered in this category.
- Personal Expenses: This includes clothing, laundry, phone and entertainment costs. You can greatly affect this category. For instance, to save money, you'll want to email family and friends rather than make long-distance phone calls. You'll also want to check out the school's free concerts, exhibitions and other events. With some restraint, you'll find it easier to stay within your budget.
- Emergencies: There are always unexpected costs that pop up. That's why you'll want to always keep some extra money in your bank account — just in case.
Comparing College Costs
To help you compare the costs of various
colleges, below table shows three different schools compared on costs for one year of studies.
||University of Southern California – US$42,062
|Public College/University(Less Expensive):
||University of California, San Diego – US$22,878
||Pasadena City College – US$4,848
College Budget Planner
It's important to develop a realistic budget for your studies in the United States. To help you calculate what you'll need for tuition, room & board and everyday expenses, take a moment to visit this
planner. The better you budget now, the more prepared you'll feel later.