Tuition and Fees for International Students to Pursue a US Undergraduate Degree

The US higher education attracts students all over the world due to its high quality and diversity, and at the same time, it is an expensive choice for most international students. According to  HSBC’s the Value of Education on the costs of studying abroad in different locations, the US has become the third most-expensive place for higher education (behind Australia and Singapore). The estimated average annual cost for US higher education is $36,564, tuition fees and living expenses included. Hence, for a normal 4-year undergraduate program, the students should expect ~$ 150k in total, which is definitely a large figure for most international family.


If you are considering apply for a private university, as an international student, you need to pay for an extra $ 10K per year. According to student support organization College Board, published tuition fees for 2014/15 at state colleges are an average of US$9,139 for state residents and $22,958 for everyone else. As an international student, you will automatically fall into the latter group. Although 2-year public colleges – also known as community, technical or city colleges – are much cheaper, you can only receive an associate’s degree and only count for first half of a bachelor’s degree. To complete the process, transferring to another university is required. Since this process may be complicated, most internationals students still deem 4-year colleges as their primary targets.


Unlike graduate education offered with various assistantship, international undergraduate students do not have too many choices in terms of financial aids. Most of the fellowships are restricted to US citizens and permanent residents. Hence, some international students can only apply for on-campus part-time jobs (e.g. dining sevices, school library, and bookstore) to partially compensate the high expense. While the study load during undergraduate study can vary in different majors, international students have to carefully balance the time between study, work, and social life. Even for US students, sometimes they have to choose public colleges due to the unaffordable tuitions in private universities.

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