How much does it cost to be an international student in the USA?

Cost of living in the USA for a student

"If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail"

- Benjamin Franklin.

If there is one country in the world that even a child knows in the world's farthest corner, it is the United States of America. From New York, a global finance and culture center, and the Midwestern metropolis Chicago known for its influential architecture, and Los Angeles Hollywood, famed for filmmaking - The USA influences several aspects of life globally.

Thanks to countries around the world setting the American way of life as a scale of measure for many decades now, kids grow up in an environment where their goal is to one day migrate to the US for school or work. And thus, giving rise to the infamous "American Dream"

The US dollar is indeed much more valuable than most other currencies, but don't let that stop you from studying in the United States. You can live in the United States with structured financial planning and guidance. Some of the major expenses you will incur as an international student in the US include: Housing, Utilities, Food, Study Materials, Transportation, and tuition fees. Apart from these are entertainment, mobile data, internet, and clothing expenses.

So, how much does an international student pay to study in the US? The annual cost can reach up to five figures. Here is the average breakdown of the expenses in dollars. Feel free to convert them to your local currency for a near-accurate figure. 


On-Campus Accommodations can cost anywhere from 820 dollars to 925 dollars per month. This amount may vary depending on your location and institution. The Midwest region is cheaper than the East and Northeast in the US. One-bedroom apartments in rural areas can start at around 500 dollars a month. But, you have to pay your electricity, internet, and water bills along with the rent.

The upside to taking university or on-campus housing is that your meals and electricity will be inclusive, along with being within walking distance from your classrooms which will save you money on transportation.

On the other hand, if you select off-campus housing far from your campus, you will have to budget for transportation.


Fortunately, transportation costs aren't that high in the US. There are numerous options to choose from- taxis, trains, buses, and vehicle rental services. You can get a monthly pass to use Public transportation for about 40-60 dollars a month. But as a student, you can get a discount on your monthly pass with your student ID.


Food in the US is a little pricey for international students and largely dependent on your dietary habits, especially the Asian ingredients and dishes which are considered exotic cuisine. However, fast food joints such as McDonald's, KFC, or Wendy's are cheaper when compared to the prices back home, and the portion sizes are much fuller too.

As a student living alone in the US, you have to figure out the most efficient way to feed yourself. On-campus students do not have to source their food externally as all dining costs are included in their accommodation fees. To sum, you may spend anywhere from 400 dollars to 600 dollars on groceries and meals each month.


A health insurance policy for international students is similar to a regular health insurance policy. Several companies offer policies specifically designed for students, which may make them different. Insurance for students is a tad more affordable, can be purchased to cover the entire period of your study abroad, and comply with the student visa requirements.

A one-year health insurance plan for an international student in the US can range from 500 dollars to over 1,000 dollars a year.


According to the weather and your usage, utility bills can range from 240 to 400 dollars per month. While living in an off-campus residence, you will also have to figure out your laundry solution. Laundromats cost about 2 to 4 dollars per wash.

In terms of entertainment, movie tickets cost around 10 dollars, and concert tickets range from 120 to 510 dollars per ticket depending on the concert.

Doing the math, the average cost of living in the US as an international student comes up to about 1500 to 3000 dollars a month. It is costly but there are various options and opportunities. You can get the facilities of international scholarships, student loans, and Part-time jobs.

If you have any questions about your visa, university application, or anything related to studying abroad get in touch with our guidance counselors at AECC Global for free.

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