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Cost of Studying in USA

One of the most important factors you should consider before you decide to study in the U.S is the costs that are involved. Studying in the U.S is considered to be expensive for international students not only due to the high tuition fee of colleges and universities, but also due to the high costs of living in the U.S. International students have to shell out money on accommodation, transport, books, food etc. All these expenses add to the already high costs of education at U.S universities and colleges.

Studying abroad, especially in the U.S is very expensive and without proper planning, you can end up spending much more than you had initially calculated. However, if you manage to arrange the required funds, it is very likely that you will manage to recover them once you start working as U.S degrees are highly valued by employers all over the world.

Before you make a decision regarding studying in the U.S and choosing a program, you should consider the following factors that can make a lot of difference to your overall expenditure:

Type of College

The type of college you choose to study in will make a huge difference to your overall expenses. The U.S higher education system primarily comprises of Private Universities/Colleges, Public Universities/Colleges and Community Colleges. The tuition fee in all these three categories varies greatly and choosing the right option can help you create the foundation of a successful career.

It is a general rule that Private Universities/Colleges are more expensive than Public Universities/Colleges. One of the main reasons behind this is the amount of aids that Public Universities get from the U.S Government which allows them to subsidize their tuition fees.

Community Colleges, on the other hand, are the cheapest out of the 3. But it is important to keep in mind that Community colleges do not provide Bachelor degrees but rather provide 2 year ‘Associate Degrees’. Once you earn this 2 year ‘Associate Degree’, you will have to take a transfer into a Public/Private University to complete the last 2 years of your Bachelor course. Community Colleges can help you save a lot of money on the first two years of your Bachelor level education.

Please note that there is no clear cut rule when it comes to the tuition fee of colleges. There are some reputed Public Universities that charge even more than many Private Universities. However, on an average, the tuition fees of Private Universities/Colleges ranges from somewhere between 15,000 to 40,000 dollars per year. On the other hand, Public Universities/Colleges generally charge around 10,000 to 25,000 dollars per year. The rate for Community Colleges is around 8,000 to 12,000 dollars per year.

Type and Structure of Course

Not only the type of college, but the type of course also affects your total expenditure. For example, courses like Engineering and Architecture are typically more expensive than courses in the field of Humanities and Arts. The fees for different courses is calculated on the basis of various factors including the demand for the course, the cost of conducting the course and the remuneration that students are expected to get after graduation. The type of course you plan to join can make a lot of difference to the amount of money you and your parents will spend on your education in the U.S.

It is also important to consider the structure of your course while calculating the total expenditure that will be incurred while studying in the U.S. The structure of the course will include the duration of the course and the amount of credits that it requires. Many universities and colleges in the U.S base their tuition fee on a per – credit basis. For example, in the year 2013 – 14, an International student applying at the Iowa State University will have to pay 10,138.80 dollars per semester for earning more than 12 credits but will have to pay 4323 dollars per semester for 5 credits.

 So if you’re pursuing a course that requires more credits, then you will be paying more for that course than you would for a course that would require lesser credits. For example, if you want to pursue a Double Major, then you would generally be required to pay more as you would be attending more classes and you would need more credits in order to graduate.

Similarly, the duration of the course can also make a big difference to your total expenditure. Even though most Bachelor courses go on for not less than 4 years, the American education system offers you the flexibility to earn more credits per year so as to complete your graduation in less than 4 years. So, if you manage to complete your course within 3 years, you will not only save on the tuition fee but also on the accommodation and other living expenses for the 4th year.

Foreign Exchange Rate

Please keep the foreign exchange rate into consideration while planning to study in the U.S. This is very important because the exchange rate between the rupee and the dollar might fluctuate many times during the course of your Bachelor studies. The fluctuations in the exchange rate can benefit you or make you spend even more than before. For example, if the value of the Rupee increases compared to the Dollar, then you will have to pay lesser than what you would have had to at the previous exchange rate. However, if the value of the Rupee decreases as compared to the Dollar, you might have to pay even more than what you were initially going to. Therefore, it is ideal to keep a margin for such fluctuations while creating a budget for studying in the U.S. so that your studies are not affected.

Location of College

The location of your college or university can make a major difference to your living expenses. If your College/University is situated in an urban area or next to the main city, you will typically end up spending a lot on your accommodation and other living expenses compared to what you would have spent if your college/university was in a smaller town. Also, some cities are generally more expensive than the others in the U.S. For example, a city like San Francisco is considered to be very expensive whereas Suburban and Rural areas in the South and mid west of the United States are considered to have much cheaper costs of living. For example, the total fees for students (including tuition and living expenses) in a small – Town University like the William Penn University, Oskaloosa, Iowa per year is 34,544 dollars whereas the total fees for a big city university like Loyola University Maryland, Baltimore is 57,990 dollars per year.

However, living in the city has its own advantages that include more exposure to the American culture and urban life among many others. It is also most likely that living in the city will mean that you will waste lesser time travelling from your accommodation to your college if you do not reside on campus.

Therefore, the location of your college becomes a very important factor and making a wise decision with regards to this aspect can help you cut down on costs massively. The ideal decision is to choose a college that is located in an area with good transport connectivity but still has a low cost of living.

Other Expenses

Apart from your tuition fee and your accommodation, there are many other living expenses that you would have to incur during your stay in the U.S. These might include expenses on books and other research material, travelling costs, medical insurance, food and other personal expenses. All these small expenses add on during the course of 4 years and end up constituting a big part of your total expenditure. For example, students of the Loyola University Maryland, Baltimore, spend around 15,000 to 16,000 dollars per year on housing, transportation, books etc.

Saving on such expenses can greatly impact your decision regarding studying in the U.S. For example, you can choose to buy used books rather than new ones and cut down on travelling costs by choosing to travel by the public transport. There are many other ways to cut down on such expenses and by doing so, you will make studying in the U.S more affordable for yourself.

Financial Aids and Scholarships

One of the advantages of studying in the U.S is that there are many different types of financial aids available for international students. These include grants and scholarships. The main difference between a grant and a scholarship is that the latter is generally awarded on the basis of academic merit whereas grants can be given to anybody who is needy. There are many types of scholarships apart from merit based ones, such as scholarships on the basis of need, scholarships in the form of loans etc.

These grants, aids and scholarships help international students afford the high costs of studying in Universities/Colleges in the U.S. These benefits are available through many sources including the Indian Government, the College/University, International organizations and individual sponsors. Please keep in mind that receiving these grants or aids is not an easy task, especially for international students at the Bachelor’s level. You will generally need a very good academic record in order to receive such benefits.

Many reputed universities like the Harvard University, Amherst College, Dartmouth College, MIT, Princeton University and the Yale University offer ‘need – blind’ scholarships to all applicants, including international students. ‘Need Blind’ basically means that these universities do not take the financial status of the student into consideration during the admission process and students are admitted purely on merit. So a student who does not have enough money to pay for the fees for these universities/colleges, but is considered to be brilliant enough to be worthy of admission, will be completely funded by the University/College.

You should start finding about such scholarships and financial benefits as a part of your research process before you start applying to colleges. The presence of a scholarship or any other form of financial aid can greatly reduce the financial burden of studying in the U.S on you and your parents and can make U.S. universities/colleges so much more affordable for you.

Part – Time Work

There are various on – campus jobs available for students to take up so as to help them fund their living expenses in the U.S. Students can only work on these on – campus jobs part – time, which is not more than 20 hours a week while the semester is in session. However, during summer breaks and off days, students are allowed to work full time. On – campus jobs generally include those jobs where the university/college pays you directly and your work benefits the students, such as working in the cafeteria. You will not be allowed to do an off – campus job until you’ve got special permission from your university/college and other authorities. ‘Assistantships’ is another form of work that is done by students on campus by assisting professors in their classes and other work.

These part – time jobs generally pay somewhere around 7 – 10 dollars per hour. Such jobs can help ease the financial burden on you and your parents and make it possible for you to contribute towards the funding of your education. However, it is very important to keep in mind that you should not expect these jobs to help you pay your tuition fees as you cannot work for more than 20 hours a week and you will always need to maintain your full –time student status by earning enough credit hours.

Study in USA