How Much Does College Cost?

Note that the yearly costs given below are rough estimates. Costs such as tuition and fees will vary between different schools. Costs such as travel and room and board will vary between different cities in the US. Also, you should assume about a 5% increase per year for each cost. This is due to inflation.


Tuition will be the largest component of your education cost. It will vary widely between different schools, so it is best for you to refer to the schools where you are planning to apply to get a realistic amount. As a very rough guideline, the cost for tuition can range from $5,000 to $25,000 per year. Public schools will typically charge lower tuition than private schools, and community colleges usually have the lowest tuition costs of all public schools. For an explanation of the differences between public and private schools, refer to Bachelor's degree.

Room and board

This is normally the second largest component of your education cost. The cost for room and board can also vary widely between schools, so you should check with the schools where you are planning to apply to get the right estimate. A rough guideline is between $3,000 and $8,000. If you are considering living off campus and getting your own apartment, you will also need to calculate the cost of furnishing that apartment, paying your monthly utilities (such as electricity), and the cost of transportation to and from school. The most practical and economical choice for a fist year international student is often to live on campus with a roommate. You should note that residence halls will often close during the summer. If you will not be returning to your home country during that time, you will have to find alternate housing.


In addition to tuition, most colleges and universities will also charge fees, such as student activity fees. These help to support student clubs and organizations on campus. They are usually relatively small, only a few hundred dollars per year.

Books and supplies

Students must pay for all their text books, as well as supplies such as notebooks, paper, pens, etc. You can sometimes lower this cost by buying used books from the school's bookstore. A good estimate for this cost is between $500 and $1,500. If you are on a budget there is the option to purchase your textbooks online.

Medical insurance

Because the cost of healthcare in the US is very high, many schools require international students to purchase medical insurance. However, with the recent implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), healthcare rates are expected to drop. With that in mind, it would be wise to research the ACA and how health insurance works so you're completely up to speed. It is a very good idea to buy insurance even if your school does not require it to protect yourself from extremely high medical bills should you become ill or have an accident. A comprehensive insurance policy (which covers doctor's visits, medication, hospitalization, and surgery) will cost between $500 and $1,000 for one person.


You should calculate how much it will cost you to travel between your school and your home country. You will need to determine how many times during the length of your education you will go home and multiply that by the cost of airplane fare between the two locations.

Personal expenses

These expenses include clothing, entertainment, and telephone bills. This will vary depending on where you will live and on your personal lifestyle; therefore, it is difficult to provide an estimate.