Life Hacks

Breaking Down the Real Cost of Studying Abroad in the US

July 27, 2021

According to the US Department of Education, the average cost of attending university is  $16,757 for public institutions and $43,065 for private institutions. However, as an international student, there are a lot of hidden fees and other costs you have to think about when creating a budget.

Where many foreign students seem to fail is in understanding the true cost of studying abroad in the United States. That’s what we’re here for!

Keep reading to find a detailed breakdown of all of the small factors and fees you need to consider to understand how much money you’re going to need to fund your studies.

What to Know About the Cost of Studying Abroad in the US

Most universities for foreign students will formulate something they call the “cost of attendance.” This includes things such as international student tuition, mandatory fees, room and board, and the estimated costs of books and other living expenses.

However, there are other expenses that you might not think of when applying to study abroad at a US university. These expenses can include:

  • Application Fees
  • Entrance Exam Fees (TOEFL, for example)
  • Visa Fees
  • International Health and Medical Insurance
  • Travel to the United States
  • Travel within the United States
  • Personal Expenses
  • Cellphone Plans
  • Supplies (laptops, other tech gadgets)

You see, there is a lot more to think about than simply the cost of international student tuition, right? This is all assuming that you’re going to study full-time at a four-year university. Understanding the cost of studying abroad can help you create a solid budget that will let you know how much you’re going to have to spend and where you can reduce your costs.

How to Create a Budget for Studying Abroad

NAFSA provides international students with a great budget template that you can use to start with. However, your actual budget is going to depend a lot on where in the US you’re going to attend school and for how long you plan to attend.

First, you’ll want to start by contacting your university and asking them if any of your International Baccalaureate (IB) or Advanced Placement (AP) courses can count towards college credit. This can help you reduce the number of courses or credits you have to pay for. Then, you’ll want to take a look at a cost of living calculator. Studying in California is going to come with a much higher cost of living than studying somewhere like Texas. You can find these cost of living calculators online that will help you compare the costs between various US cities and states.

Now, you’re ready to create your budget! Start by filling in the areas that the NAFSA budget template suggests and use real data that you’ve gathered from your research into the costs of the city where you’re going to attend university.

Find Creative Ways to Reduce Your Study Abroad Fees

As an international student, you’re going to want to learn how to get creative about how you spend and save your money. One easy way to save money as an international student is to take college courses either in your home country or at a two-year community college in the US. Make sure these courses can transfer to your university of choice. If they do, then you’ll be able to save money on the tuition and eventually transfer to the four-year university to get your actual degree.

Aside from that, you can also begin to learn how to spend your money wisely once you’re in the United States. As a foreign student, you’ll want to sign up for a debit card that will help you avoid paying costly transaction fees.

As an international student or non-citizen, you deserve to be able to not only spend easily but also earn great rewards while doing so.

The Cheese debit card can help you do this! This zero-fee debit card is packed with benefits for you, including saving bonus and cashback on every purchase you make.

Sounds great, doesn’t it? Click here to sign up for  in order to receive your Cheese debit card.