What will college cost?

Listed below are some of the costs that international students will consistently incur when choosing to study in the United States.

The cost of college for international students will vary. Costs will depend upon the type and quality of the institution as well as the region of the United States in which the school is located.

Application Fees

Each application requires a processing fee that can range between $50 and $100. We recommend that you apply to 10 to 15 different schools; therefore international students can expect to pay about $500 to $1,500 just in application fees.

Entrance Exams Fees

International applicants will have to take several standardized exams, such as the SAT, ACT, and the TOEFL. Each exam costs between $50 and $100. Many international students take at least two exams and some students retake the exams if they scored poorly the first time. Expect to pay about $300 on exams.

Tuition and Fees

The price of tuition and fees will vary greatly based on the type and prestige of the institution and can range from $4,000 to $40,000 for the year. For more accurate estimates, it is best to get this information directly from the schools to which you are applying. Be sure to budget for annual increases in tuition and fees. Currently, these costs can go up 3% to 7% per year.

Room and Board

The cost of living can vary depending upon the type of living arrangement. Living on campus, in dormitories or other university housing, will usually be the cheapest option and will cost around $5,000 to $8,000. Students that rent an apartment off campus can often expect higher rents and higher food bills. Rent can be anywhere between $250 and $600 per month, but may be much more in some locations. Buying groceries for the year can range from $2,500 to $3,000.


Books, study aids, and laboratory supplies can range between $500 and $1,000 a year. Most books can be sold back at the end of the semester.

Health Insurance

Health insurace is required to enroll in most universities in the United States. International students can expect to pay $500 to $800 a year.

Miscellaneous Expenses

International students should budget an additional $1,500 to $2,500 for personal expenses such as purchasing clothing, entertainment, and other expenses.

Travel to and from the United States

Travel to the United States will vary depending upon the departure location but can cost in excess of $2,000. If you plan on returning to your country during the winter or summer break be sure to budget those additional flights. Transportation within the United States can cost another $400 to $900.

Adding it all Together

When all these costs are added together, the final cost of attending college in the United States for one year ranges from a bare minimum of $14,300 to an extravagant $74,000. Of course, most international student will face prices somewhere between these two extremes. A normal estimate is $25,000 to $35,000 a year for good quality schools.