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The U.S. News reports an uptick in college tuition costs over the last year for both public and private schools in the US, with the average out-of-state tuition at private colleges climbing approximately 4% and public colleges seeing an increase of 1.4% in the academic year 2023-2024. It makes you wonder if the sticker price of quality education will always be out of reach, but is it? In this blog, we are going to cover the top 10 most affordable universities in the USA for international students. So, sit tight and read on!

In this blog:

  1. How much does tuition generally cost to study in US?
  2. What are the most affordable universities in USA for UG?
  3. What are the most affordable universities in USA for Masters?
  4. What are the most affordable universities in USA for MBA?
  5. What is the cost of living in USA for international students?
  6. Other affordable universities in USA for international students
  7. Eligibility for most affordable universities in USA for international students

How much does it generally cost to study in US?

To put things in perspective let’s start with the average tuition costs for universities in the US. Although the cost of tuition varies depending on the university and course, the average out-of-state cost of tuition for public colleges is $23,630 and $42,162 for private colleges. Overall the average cost of tuition for international students comes to US $32,896 per year. 

Suggested Read: Realistic Ways to Find Fully Funded Scholarships for Studying Abroad

What are the most affordable universities in USA for undergrad?

Here is a list of some of the most affordable universities in USA for an undergrad degree. Remember that these are tuition and fees before financial need, scholarships and other aid are factored in. 

Most Affordable Universities in USA for International Students (UG) Average Per Year Tuition (USD)
Arkansas State University $13,248
California State University, Fresno $16,430
University at Buffalo (North Campus) $18,906
Bowling Green State University $21,000
Louisiana State University $20,493
San Francisco State University $17,032
San Jose State University $18,545
Central Michigan University $19,800
Missouri State University $15,006
Southeast Missouri State University $16,395
California State University, Chico $9,504
Kent State University $22,316
Northwest Missouri State University $15,031

Do you know we can help you get application fee waivers for some of these universities?

What are the most affordable universities in USA for Masters?

Here is a list of some of the most affordable universities in USA for a master’s degree. Remember that these are tuition and fees before financial need, scholarships and other aid are factored in. 

Most Affordable Universities in USA for International Students (MS) Average Per Year Tuition (USD)
Arkansas State University $11,970
Missouri State University $13,248
Southeast Missouri State University $12,645
California State University, Fresno $15,488
California State University, Northridge $15,567
University of Nevada, Reno $24,050
Middle Georgia State University $7,676
California State University, Fullerton $15,489
California State University, Chico $9,248
Northwest Missouri State University $6,817
San Jose State University $17,547
San Francisco State University $15,298
University of South Dakota $12,768
California State University, Northridge $15,432
Monmouth University $19,710
Western Kentucky University $17,497

What are the most affordable universities in USA for MBA?

Here is a list of some of the most affordable universities in USA for an MBA degree. Remember that these are tuition and fees before financial need, scholarships and other aid are factored in. 

Most Affordable Universities in USA for International Students (MBA) Average Per Year Tuition (USD)
University of Cincinnati $16,535
Kent State University $16,535
San Francisco State University $22,018
California State University, Fullerton $20,349
University of Nebraska Omaha $18,660
Central Michigan University: $14,544

Get the list of all affordable universities in USA for international students!

What is the cost of living in USA for international students?

Now, coming to living costs in the US – there is a lot to unpack here. Especially because 

your cost of living in the US is also very subjective since it includes variables like the city you will live in, whether you are going for private accommodation or university dorms, your meal plans, mode of transportation, lifestyle, and spending habits, etcetera.

Types of Student Accommodation in US Average Cost Per Month
Homestay $900-$1,150
On-Campus Dorms/ Residence Halls $800 – $ 900
Shared Accommodation $450 – $900
Apartment $1,500-$2,500+

With accommodation out of the way, let us look at other expenses that count towards the total cost of living in the US for Indian students. Living cost depends on a variety of factors. For example, in this section, we will hash out the monthly living expenses of an average North Carolina State University student.

  1. An average student’s housing can range from $450 to $2,500 per month based on their location, amenities, appliances like dishwashers or washing machines, and services like a gym, pool, or concierge. Generally, utilities like water and gas are included in rental costs. The average student’s housing for an NC State student is $1,060.
  2. With the house comes the bills! Students are typically required to pay the cost of electricity. Although there is no cap on how expensive electricity can be, the average cost is $100 – $150 a month and can increase depending on how much electricity you consume.
  3. Your internet and phone bills can be $45- $50 per month and $50 per month, respectively. It’s a bit much, but you can undoubtedly use student discounts and affordable mobile service provider options.
  4. Food & grocery is another key expense. This amount can range from $400 – $600 per month for off-campus students and $250 per month for on-campus students. It largely depends on your personal needs, choice of grocery stores (since some are cheaper than others), meal plan, etc.
  5. Typically, if you live on campus, transportation is not a major monthly expense, but if you live farther from your college, you need to budget for your travelling expenses. In the US, you can easily access buses, subways, and streetcars, which offer per-use prices as well as unlimited monthly plans. Your average transportation can range anywhere from $300 – $700 per year.
  6. Finally, your books and supplies can cost you around $435  per semester. Other expenses include your shopping and entertainment expenses, which are highly subjective but can generally cost you between $20 to $150 per month. This expense includes restaurants and take-out, hobbies, social activities, movies, monthly subscriptions, and anything else not covered in the other categories.
Other Expenses Average Yearly/Monthly Cost
Books and Material $900 – $2,000 per year
Travel $300 – $700 per year
Electricity $100 – $150 per month
Food Off-Campus: $400 – $600 per month

On-Campus: $250 per month

Phone Subscription $50 per month
Home Internet $45 – $50 per month
Health Insurance $700 – $1,100 per year
Clothes $500 per year
Water, Sewer, and Trash $50 – $75 per month

Another way to make your US education affordable is through college-specific and external scholarships. If full or part of your tuition is covered, you can manage your expenses, cook your meals, get a student travel pass and simply take up a part-time job at your university to take care of the rest.

Part-time jobs such as teaching assistantships, research assistantships, and paid lab positions in the university can cover a good portion of your tuition or even your living expenses while studying abroad.

Other affordable universities in the USA  for international students 

In addition to the top most affordable universities in the USA, there are other well-known cheap universities in US for international students. State universities often offer lower tuition to international students. Community colleges are another budget-friendly alternative, with a chance to later transfer to a four-year institution. 

Other Affordable Universities in USA for International Students
Indiana State University Metropolitan College of New York
University of Central Oklahoma Wright State University
Columbus State University Texas State University
Roosevelt University Florida International University
Texas A & M University University of North Texas
Stratford University Thomas Jefferson University
Jacksonville State University Montana State University

Eligibility for most affordable universities in USA for international students

Eligibility for most affordable universities in the USA for international students often depends on various factors. Generally, these universities consider your academic achievements, English proficiency test scores (like TOEFL or IELTS), and sometimes standardised test scores (SAT/ACT/GMAT/GRE). 

Additionally, financial documentation demonstrating your ability to cover tuition and living expenses is also essential, even when applying for need-based aid. Researching individual university websites and contacting their admissions offices should be your first move to get specific details on eligibility criteria. But we created a quick checklist anyway!

Eligibility for Most Affordable Universities in USA for International Students
For an Undergrad Degree: Passport- first & last page
Class 9 Marksheet
Class 10 Marksheet
Class 11 Marksheet
Class 12 Predicted Score/ Marksheet
Statement of Purpose
Letters of Recommendation
SAT Scorecard
IELTS/TOEFL Scorecard
Emergency Contact Details
For a Masters Degree: Passport- First & Last Page
Bachelors Degree Certificate
Bachelors Degree Marksheet
Bachelors Degree Transcripts
Resume
Statement of Purpose
Letters of Recommendation
GRE/ GMAT Scorecard
IELTS/ TOEFL Scorecard
Emergency Contact Details

It is safe to say that you now have pretty good insights into the most affordable universities in USA for undergraduate, master’s and MBA programs. Remember that affordability goes hand-in-hand with wise planning and thorough research. Feel free to reach us for a quick call to learn about other hidden gems that offer quality education without breaking the bank. Navigating eligibility criteria for affordable universities in USA for international students is crucial, so ensure you fulfil all requirements and present a compelling application. Ultimately, we hope you can make the most of your international student experience in the USA. Best of luck!

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