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Estimating budget for International Students to Study in U.S.

Mansi Topa Mansi Topa
Content Curator

The U.S. is the favorite destination for international students to study but is an expensive option too. Before, deciding upon the U.S. it is suggested to place facts on sheets, and estimate the total expenditure and funding options for international students.

According to the U.S. policies, the international students must have adequate funds to satisfy the Consular in the U.S. Consulate that they can bear the cost of living and study in the U.S. for the period of education.

Factors affecting the Budget

While deciding upon various aspects which affect your budget, you must not ignore any kind of expense. Save as much as possible and keep a note of emergency expenditure.

Mentioned are major areas of expenses which affects your budget considerably.

FoodHealth Insurance
TransportationPersonal Expenses

Note: In case, you receive scholarships or fellowships, it is non-taxable.

Estimate of Expenses in the U.S.

Initial Budget

Apart from regular expenses in the U.S., there are expenses before you reach the university. These expenses are one-time and are in considerable amount.

  • Flight Charges
  • Airport to hotel/hostel
  • Meals
  • Initial apartment charges

In case, the students get an assistantship, they will be paid at the end of the month. Meanwhile, they must survive for complete one month on their own funding resources.

Regular Expenses

Mentioned are the factors considered for expenditure in daily-life. The average expense range is mentioned along with the estimated percentage contribution of each item in a month.

ItemPercentage ContributionApproximate Expense Range (Monthly)
Rent of Apartment35.6%1,000 USD to 2,000 USD
Meals22.58%30 USD to 40 USD (one-meal)
Transportation7.45%100 USD to 300USD
Personal Expenses15.99%300 USD to 600 USD
Health Insurance18.33%450 USD to 700 USD

Note: The values for percentage contribution and expense range are subject to change. They may vary.

Estimate of Student Expenses based on School type and Environment

Type of School

Public or Private School

Public schools cost less when compared to private schools. But, students in private schools have an edge over public schools in comparison of scholarships. Private schools offer better scholarships than public schools. Lastly, Community colleges are less expensive for undergraduate and graduate degree in comparison to other colleges.

Type of Environment

Urban or Rural Environment

A school in the rural area costs less than a school in the urban area. An apartment in the urban region is almost double of the same in a rural region. The same concept applies to the cost of different amenities in different regions.

Expenditure based on anything, a school or a region affects directly on the students.

The average expenditure of public and private school: -

  1. Average annual expenses for public state university – 35,000 USD to 45,000 USD.
  2. Average annual expenses for private state university – 65,000 USD to 75,000 USD.

Note: The figures include tuition, books, board and room and miscellaneous.

The F-1 Visa Budget

F-1 visa is a non-immigrant visa for the aspirants who want to study in the U.S.

For this visa, the students must provide a proof to the U.S. consulate that they have enough funds to survive in the U.S. for at least 1 year.

 Apart from that, they must have liquid assets for the next 3 years.

The U.S. provides a benefit to the international students under which they can work for at most 20 hours a week and are eligible for 12 months on-the-job training at the company related to their field of education.

The students have the advantage to work and learn along with reduced pressure of funds.

Budget Institutions in the U.S. for International Students

Though the majority of universities in the U.S. are expensive but there are certain well-known institutions which offer reasonable tuition fee to international students.

Mentioned are those universities along with the corresponding tuition fee: -

UniversityLocationTuition Fee
Cameron UniversityOklahoma15,510 USD
Alabama State UniversityAlabama19,396 USD
University of Minnesota – Twin CitiesMinnesota28,910 USD
University of North CarolinaNorth Carolina20,457 USD
California Polytechnic State UniversityCalifornia23,349 USD
Florida State UniversityFlorida21,683 USD
Angelo State UniversityAngelo20,665 USD
Truman State UniversityMissouri14,842 USD
Purdue UniversityIndiana28,702 USD
Shepherd UniversityWest Virginia18,052 USD

Manage Budget through Scholarships for International Students

Scholarships are one of the best ways to save your earnings. Maximum scholarships cover tuition and other charges. International organizations also provide the same for international students. There are quite many governmental, non-governmental and college scholarships.

One of the most famous scholarships provided to students in different domains are Fulbright scholarships

It is majorly suggested to study in the U.S. with scholarships.

Mentioned are the varied and well-known scholarships offered to international students in the U.S.

Name of ScholarshipsNumber of AwardsValue
Fulbright Foreign Student Program (Government)4,000The grant funds tuition, airfare, a living stipend, and health insurance for the duration of the study
Hubert Humphrey Fellowship Program (Government)200 FellowshipsPay tuition and fee, Pre-academic English Training, living allowance, accidental insurance, Air Travel and Professional activities such as field trips and conferences
Next Gen ScholarshipSelective 2nd or 4th year undergraduate student1,000 USD
UnitedStates South Pacific Scholarship Program (USSP)-Tuition Fee, hall room cost, books, health insurance, airfare (round trip) and a living stipend
Community College Initiative Program 2018 (Fully Funded)-Tuition fee, living allowance, airfare, health insurance, and cultural enhancement activities

Universities offer loads of scholarships to international students. No matter where you attend your school, you simply visit the financial aid office and look for the suitable scholarships for yourself. Students can visit the financial aid website of their institution where they can find suitable aid.

Apart from the above-given options, there are numerous offer waiting for you around the world by various international organizations. Aspirants may benefit through this aid for tuition fee and living allowance.

Sources of Financial Support

  • Home Country
  • Employment 
  • Scholarships for International Students
  • The U.S. Government and Universities
  • International Student Loans
  • International Organizations – UN, Fulbright, WHO and more

Some more Budgeting Options

How is transit helpful?

Get to know about your local transit. Taxi is a good option but not budget-friendly. The bus system is widely spread across the cities and are more convenient and less pricey.

Biking is the most budget-friendly option. You need to spend 0 USD and is good for your health too. Get to know the traffic rules and explore the city. You can buy a second-hand bike from various vendors, it’ll definitely save a lot.

How do you save on housing?

The prices of housing in the U.S. are considerably high. Choose a city where you can find affordable accommodation. You can opt for student dormitory too. Often, foreign students opt for a dormitory to save funds and find new friends.

Dormitories are located near the universities which again save a lot on transit.

5 budget states in the U.S.

Mentioned are the cheapest options to study in the U.S. Average home price in each state will provide an idea about the amount of expenses.

StateAverage Home Price
Georgia290,041 USD
Alabama243,562 USD
Missouri292,049 USD
Michigan295,582 USD
Tennessee348,413 USD

What you should do before making a Budget?

Before making a budget, students must

  • Identify the family members or friends who will contribute for your expenses (if required) while you leave for the U.S.
  • List all your income and savings which may include – scholarships, grants, awards, and loans.
  • List all your monthly or annual expenses.

Keeping a record of these, students will know their capacity to spend and know what and how should be saved.

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