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Living costs in the US for students

There is no doubt that the US offers unrivalled educational opportunities – as well as a student lifestyle that is envied throughout the world.

If you have gained admittance to a university in the USA, congratulations. You’ve made a good choice, and the opportunities you’ll get in the future as a graduate of a US college are plentiful.

There are questions that you will now need to consider, though, and the first of these might be –how am I going to fund it?

Varying costs

The first thing to be aware of is that living costs in different areas of the USA vary massively. As you might expect, areas with highly performing universities and large student populations.

For example California, Washington, New York and New England, where the Ivy League colleges are located, are always going to be very expensive places to live.

The decision has to be weighed up, though, since in terms of education and student experience these areas are unlikely to be rivalled.

The area of the US that you live in will obviously be determined by the college that you are going to attend. You should think about this when you are applying, and consider whether you will realistically be able to afford in such a location.

Look at all options though, to make your money go as far as possible – this means working part-time whilst studying, scholarships, possibilities of financial aid, and anything else that you can think of.

Ask colleges directly about the scholarships and financial aid packages that they offer. There are opportunities for funding available at most colleges throughout the US, and to dismiss the chance to study there because of fears over money would certainly be a shame.

How much will it cost?

It is very hard to calculate how much you will spend as a student in the States, since everyone’s spending habits are different.

It is only you who will know how much money you are likely to spend on clothes or eating out, for example, and decisions on whether to buy second-hand course books rather than new ones will also make a big difference.

If you choose to live in cheaper off campus accommodation later in your studies, this will also lower your costs. With this in mind, though, it has been estimated that the average student from Asia will spend between $4,000 and $9,000 per year on day to day living.


The best way to pay for things outside your tuition costs is to get a part time job, which should be relatively easy to do in large student areas where work is plentiful.

Having said this, some states (including Florida, Alabama and Texas) have a shortage of part-time jobs – so if you are planning on studying somewhere where this is the case you need to come prepared with the funds to last for the duration of your studies.

In other cases international students have to be able to prove that they have funds to last them for two to three months.
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