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Cost of studying in USA

by Chetna Vasishth

In this article we will tell you everything about the ‘Cost of studying in USA for an International Student’ and will cover

  1. Undergraduate tuition fee at some US Universities
  2. A listing of the most affordable colleges to the most expensive ones.
  3. Public universities vs Private Universities
  4. What is my effective cost per course and per class


Before we begin, it is important to note that these are approximate numbers for 2017-2018. These may change over time since most colleges in the US are known to increase their tuition fee from year to year

I have tried to pick universities that tend to be more popular among the international students, however, we are not recommending any specific university, nor is this list meant to be exhaustive, since the US has over 4,500 degree granting institutions

1. The Cheapest Universities

We are looking here at the 4 year 120 credit undergraduate program. There are cheaper 2 year community colleges also but we have not taken those into our discussion since international students usually do not pick those

$20,000 to $30,000 per year Tuition Fee in the US for International Students

  1. University of Bufalo – SUNY (State University of New York)
  2. BINGhamton, New York
  3. Stony Brook University – SUNY  –
  4. Iowa State University –
  5. University of Minnesota – Minneapolis, Minnesota –
  6. University of North Dakota –
  7. University of Colorado – Denver –
  8. Arizona State University –
  9. University of Utah
  10. University of Florida
  11. Florida State University
  12. Ohio State University

Most of these universities are Public Universities. A Public university is funded and managed by the state government unlike a Private University which has its own private sources of funding.

Public universities have two different types of tuition fee mentioned on their website, the lower one is ‘in-state’ meant to subsidise parents that have been paying taxes to the state and the higher ‘out-of-state’ tuition fee meant both for American citizens living outside the state and International students. Sometimes there is also an additional fee over and above this for international students.

So how to do find out whether a university is public or private?

Mostly the name suggests this – e.g. Ohio State, Penn State, Arizona State. If the name is not self-evident, then look up the ‘about’ section on the website.

Please be careful of similar sounding names of universities – there will be a Miami University and a University of Miami, a Cornell College and a Cornell University, Berkeley College is different from University of California Berkeley and Berklee College of music

$30,000 to 40,000 per year Tuition Fee for International Students

  1. Purdue University
  2. Georgia Institute of Technology
  3. Texas A&M University
  4. University of Illinois
  5. University of Wisconsin Madison
  6. University of Texas at Austin
  7. Penn State University
  8. University of Illinois Urbana Champaign

$40,000 to $50,000 per year Tuition fee for International Students

  1. Harvard University
  2. MIT
  3. Stanford University
  4. Columbia University
  5. Illinois Institute of Technology
  6. University of Michigan Ann Arbour
  7. University of California Berkeley
  8. University of California, San Diego
  9. Michigan State University
  10. University of Californa – Los Angeles
  11. University of Washington, Seattle

Tuition Fee greater than $50,000 per year for International Students

  1. University of Pennsylvania
  2. Cornell University
  3. Johns Hopkins University
  4. Carnegie Mellon University
  5. Boston University
  6. New York University
  7. USC, California
  8. Duke University

Expensive degrees

Typically the most expensive programs tend to be MBA and Management courses in undergrad, Art and Design, Music, Medicine, Dentistry, Pharmacy and Law

Now let us analyse these numbers  –

  1. Public universities are oftentimes cheaper than private universities
  2. The range can be from approx. $20,000 to 50,000 p.a. which over 4 years can mean $80,000 to $200,000.
  3. What does this mean in Indian Rupees – I have taken a conversion rate of 73, and this range could translate from Rs. 60 lakhs to Rs. 1.5 crores over the four year period
  4. Whilst cost of living will be covered in a future video, but a good rule of thumb to use at this stage is approx. USD 20,000 to USD 30,000 p.a. And in general the universities with the lower tuition fee will most often have the lower cost of living as well.
  5. So on a composite basis, at the lower end of the spectrum you could pay $80,000 for tuition + $80,000 for living expenses = $160,000 = Rs. 1.2 crore. And at the upper end of the spectrum this could mean $200,000 for tuition and $120,000 for living = $320,000 = Rs. 2.3 crores
  6. Let’s go back to the tuition fee and break it down further. Most undergraduate degrees are 120 credit courses and on an average one course has 3 credits. So we’re looking at doing 40 courses over 4 years, so about 10 courses per year, broken into two semesters it means 5 courses a term. Taking the highest tuition fee of $200,000 and dividing it by 40 we get the price we are paying per course of $5000. In Indian rupee terms this is about Rs. 3.65 lakhs. So while the US education system allows us to be flexible and choose any course we wish to, we must keep this number in mind while choosing our courses.
  7. Each course has usually 45 – 48 contact hours, assuming the figure to be 50, it means $100 per hour. So we’re forsaking Rs. 7,300 for every hour of class that we miss.

I hope that helped. Good luck with your admissions

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