Cost of Studying in USA for International Students | Expenses for Food, Clothing and Shelter

Filed in Education by on July 25, 2020

Cost of Studying in USA for International Students | Expenses for Food, Clothing and Shelter.

Cost of Studying in USA for Student: This comprehensive guide outlines the cost of fees, shelter, lifestyle, clothing and financial assistance options if you are planning to study in the United State (U.S.). 

Cost of Studying in USA for International Students

Education in the United States is provided by public, private and home schools. State governments set overall educational standards, often mandate standardized tests for K–12 public school systems and supervise, usually through a board of regents, state colleges and universities.

If you are interested in studying in the United States, one of the most important things you need to consider is how much everything is going to cost. This essential guide breaks down the cost of every aspect of university life to make sure you have everything covered.

Living Costs for Student in the United States.

Living costs in the U.S. vary a lot because of the large territory the country covers. In general, living in urban areas (in or near a big city) is more expensive than living in smaller towns or suburban areas. To give you a clearer picture of the general living costs of studying in the USA, we have included some estimates for the major regions of the country, in 2017.

The costs cover prices for a full year stay in the U.S. (academic year + vacation). As a general rule, locations in the Midwest region of the States have lower living costs, while those in the East and North-East are the highest. Living costs can vary significantly depending on four main factors:

  • Accommodation on-campus or renting apartments outside campus;
  • Choosing meal plans, personal grocery shopping or eating out;
  • Travelling by public transport or by car;
  • Amounts spent on entertainment.

East Coast

  • Boston (Massachusetts) and Miami (Florida)1,520 – 3,000 USD/month;
  • Atlanta (Georgia)under 1,000 – 1,900 USD/month;
  • Philadelphia (Pennsylvania)800-1.300 USD/month;
  • Washington D.C., and New York City1,800 – 3,500 USD/month.

West Coast

  • Los Angeles (California)1,100 – 1,600 USD/month
  • San Francisco (California): 2,300 – 4,000 USD/month;
  • San Diego (California): 1,400 – 2,400 USD/month.


  • New Orleans (Louisiana): 1,030 – 1,900 USD/month;
  • Seattle (Washington)1,480 – 2,500 USD/month.

North Central

  • Chicago (Illinois)1,250 – 2,350 USD/month;
  • Detroit (Michigan)1,050 – 1,770 USD/month.


  • Dallas (Texas) and Houston (Texas): 900 – 1,500 USD/month.

For more exact yearly costs, contact the university you plan to study in and ask for an estimate.

Accommodation Costs in the States.

Accommodation costs are just as varied as general living costs in the United States. The average apartment can start from minimum 600 USD (one bedroom apartments in more rural areas) and go up to 3,000 USD (1 bedroom apartment in Boston).

Renting outside campus in America might be less expensive than living on campus – 450 USD/month for shared rooms

Average room and board costs at universities amount to:

  • 9,800 USD/ academic year at public four-year colleges
  • 11,100 USD/academic year at private four-year colleges


Utilities may or may not be included in the price, so you should check the contact before making a decision. Here are some of the most common values you will see for different utilities:

  • Electric: 50 – 100 USD/month, depending on the size of your apartment, and if your heating is electric, the overall price may go up to 150 USD/month.
  • Heating : 50 – 100 USD/month.
  • Internet averages 45-50 USD/month.
  • Most phone services average 50 USD/month.
  • Water, sewer, and trash are usually covered by the landlord, but if you have to pay it will cost 50-75 USD/three months.

Read more about studying abroad in the USA


Groceries for one person amount to 400 – 600 USD/month depending on your dietary habits and if some meals are included with your accommodation at the university. Look for some of the cheapest supermarkets like Wal-Mart, Target, Costco, Trader Joe’s, to do your shopping.

If you live in residence halls, you could select the on-campus meal plans, for which you would have to pay around 250 USD/month.

Examples of prices in Restaurants: In Bowling Green, restaurants have affordable prices, a pizza will cost around 7 USD and you can get a coffee for 4.50 USD.

In Chicago, you can grab a meal for around 12 USD, while a beer in a bar is 6 USD.

International and American restaurants in San Francisco serve meals that cost around 15 USD.


A public transportation monthly pass is between 45 and 100 USD (some universities have discounts for students, but not all). For instance, in Cincinnati, a metro fare card for students is 53 USD/semester and in Nashville, a monthly public transportation pass is 44 USD.

The biggest transportation expense will probably be flying from and to your home country. Be careful to plan your airplane tickets into your total budget, as this can have a great impact on your plans.

Try to factor in vacation trips to tourist destinations and weekend getaways in the U.S., as depending on your living location and your destination, you can spend as much as 500 USD/trip.

Additional Costs.

  • Books and supplies: 400 – 1,000 USD/year
  • Health insurance: 700 – 1,100 USD

Try to also have a budget for other personal or unexpected expenses for the year of about 2000 USD.

Use a free tool, like Student Budget Calculator to keep track of your finances.

Tuition Fees for Students.

The US is one of the world’s most popular destinations for higher education – and also one of the most expensive. Although the initial pricing may cause a sharp intake of breath, it is worth exploring all avenues of funding and financial aid before ruling the country out.

Tuition fees range from $5,000 to $50,000 (£3,820-£38,200) per year. The average annual cost of tuition fees in the US was estimated at $33,215 (£25,376) in 2016. Most undergraduate degrees last four years, so, on average, students are graduating with $132,860 (£101,505) worth of debt.


While some countries differentiate pricing for home, EU and international students, American universities differentiate between in-state and out-of-state students. A typical four-year public college charged in-state students $9,650 per year (£7,372) in 2016-17, while out-of-state students were charged $24,930 (£19,046). There are private non-profit colleges too, which charged $33,480 (£25,578) on average in the same year.

For example, the University of Michigan (one of the higher-ranking public universities) was charging out-of-state students $45,410 (£34,693) per year, with about $10,872 (£8,306) for accommodation and board, $1,048 (£800) for books and study supplies and $2,454 (£1,874) for other personal expenses. This amounts to a budget of $59,784 (£45,674) per year.

Financial Aid for international students Coming to the U.S.

Most universities offer financial assistance to international students focusing primarily on merit and rarely on need. Scholarships are easier to get for graduate studies. Study fields that usually receive more generous funding include engineering, physical sciences and biological sciences.

All universities in the U.S. are required to include fees and a financial aid calculator on their websites. Find them on this government website. Look for scholarships, grants, assistantships, work-study plans or consider study loans. Apply for financial aid the same time you submit your university application for U.S.

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CSN Team.

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