Total Cost of Studying Bachelor’s Degree in USA – With Breakdown

Do you want to know what is the total cost of studying Bachelors Degree in USA?

This post is exclusively written for students who have completed their 10th grade and are yet to write 12th grade board exams.

I presume you have read my previous article Why I selected USA for Bachelors Degree.

Now, what might be deterring you would be the overwhelming cost of bachelor’s degree in USA that you see on the university websites.

In this post, I would be putting some light on affordability. If money isn’t bothering you, please discontinue reading; you will definitely find this post inappropriate.

Cost of Studying Bachelors Degree in USA

I am splitting total cost of studying bachelors degree in USA this in two parts

  1. Pre-departure expenses
  2. Post-departure expenses

Pre-Departure Expenses

This includes your exam fees, university application fees and visa application fees.

Exam fees: You will have to write two exams. SAT and TOEFL.

  • $103 for SAT
  • $165 for TOEFL

There are universities which don’t require SAT, but I strongly recommend getting a best possible score on the SAT.

SAT is a MUST for getting scholarships. With Scholarship, your cost of studying bachelors degree will be less by several folds.

On registration, you get 4 score reports free each for SAT and TOEFL.

Although you can take the tests numerous times, DISREGARD this option and give your best at the very first time.

University Application

Once you get SAT and TOEFL scores, you have to apply to the universities.

The average online application fee is $60. Your friends, who intend to pursue a master’s degree, must have applied to 8 to 12 universities.

But for Bachelor’s, most of the average universities (too good with respect to Indian standards) will admit you with good scholarship, provided you do well on the SAT.

Applying to 4 to 6 universities is sufficient. That would account to $60 X 4 = $240. Express mail service (DHL) would charge you Rs.900 per application packet. Rs.900 X 4 = Rs.3,600

(You are required to get a solvency certificate or credibility certificate from bank which shows that your sponsors are good up to a sum of Rs. 25 lakhs.)

Student Visa Application

Now that you have received admits (I-20) with good scholarship, you will have to apply for a student visa so as to enter the United States.

You need to pay Visa application fee and SEVIS fee. Visa fee is $160 and SEVIS fee is $200.

By proper planning, your pre-departure expenses must not exceed Rs.50,000.

Post-departure Expense

This includes your tuition fees, living expenses and miscellaneous expenses.

Tuition Fees

The tuition fees of the universities I applied and I recommend for undergrads have fees ranging from $15,000 to $20,000.

Tuition fees account for the majority of the total cost of Bachelor’s degree in USA.

With a good SAT score you will get good funding. Among my friends, the ones with great SAT scores have received scholarships that cover 90-95% of tuition fees, the ones with good score have received 75-80%  while those with above average score have received  50-60% scholarship.

This makes your tuition fee range from $1,000 to $10,000. In case you have exceptional performance in a sport which your university recognizes, you may qualify for Athletic scholarship as well.

Living expenses

This depends on the location of your university. You have to learn sharing things. It really helps a lot on minimizing expenses and saving time.

Living expenses range from $300 to $700. On an average, you may live easily with $400 to $500 per month. $450 X 12 = $5400

Miscellaneous

This includes your mandatory health insurance, books and the money you spend on movies or so.

University health insurance is expensive. It may range from $1,000 to $3,000 annually.

Most of the universities allow you to waive off the university insurance if your private insurance policy meets the standards of university’s health care policy. A health insurance from India which meets standards of university’s policy costs $300 – $400 annually.

Books cost $1,000 per year. Be willing to buy used books. Try to get them from your seniors.

That would cost you half of the money, $500. You have to cut on your spending habits.

Avoid addictions and spend only on necessary socialisation, $500 per year would be just fine.

All this makes the total range from maximum amounts for cost of studying bachelor’s degree in USA – $8,000 to $17,000; depending on your tuition fees and the scholarship you receive.

How to Reduce your costs:

Even after you receive scholarship, you have various opportunities to further reduce your costs.
DO check if the university you are applying has such opportunities available. In most cases it is limited. But, in some universities you can find it relatively easy.

  1.  On-Campus Jobs and Part time Jobs
  2. CPT Guide for Internships
  3. OPT Guide (Post Graduation)

Say, if you get a campus job, it pays you from $7.5 – $10 per hour.

You are allowed to work 20 hours a week. During vacations, you are allowed to work for 40 hours/ week. If you have CPT, that will pay you even more, $10 – $20 per hour.

Do the math and you will know how easy it has become to pay for your Bachelor’s degree.

The CollegeBoard website makes it easy for you to search good affordable universities. But in case of any doubts regarding university selection you may post comments below for help.

80 Comments

  1. Riddima Banik on October 26, 2017 at 11:31 AM

    Sir,
    I have completed my classXII examination in commerce. I have got 92%.
    Sir, I want to study with Economics and I have got 96 in Economics at my ClassXII examination.
    Can you suggest me an University which I should apply.
    Regards
    Riddima Banik

  2. Nisarg Patel on August 19, 2017 at 11:28 AM

    Sir I am an athlete and want to ask a question that how much i will recive the
    scholarship

  3. sai vivek on July 1, 2017 at 2:28 AM

    hello sir, i prepared for two weeks for SAT by myself ,i got a score of 1060 and i want to take it again and planning to go to coaching and write the ACT which is 3 months from now if i get a score of more than 34 out of 36 will i get a financial aid or scholarship…i’m planning to take one year gap also because i graduated high school this year…should i go forward and prepare for ACT?

  4. roger,, on May 8, 2017 at 9:27 AM

    i wanna study in usa.but i hava budgets of only 20000$.and my degree is a undergraduate degree…but if there are any chance of me…….

  5. shadab on May 6, 2017 at 8:39 AM

    Im taking ACT instead of SAT, is it okay?

  6. Jambay nidup on March 26, 2017 at 2:24 PM

    Sir
    How can i apply for scholarship

  7. Giri on March 16, 2017 at 6:06 AM

    Hi
    My daughter is a US Citizen studying in India. she would like to pursue Bachelors/Medicine at a good university in the US. I may not be able to support him financially.
    Does she qualify for Instate tuition, being a US Citizen?

    • shariar kabir on April 10, 2017 at 8:10 AM

      iam a kabir,living Bangladesh,i want to Bsc for radiologhy,how need many for me?

    • adi on September 2, 2017 at 9:11 AM

      yes she does

  8. Aman Joshi on March 15, 2017 at 11:31 PM

    hey there
    i want to study electrical engineering and i wish to do it from us .
    i read the procedure given above but i would love to know about the placement’s.

  9. Vrushali panchal on March 13, 2017 at 3:45 PM

    Hey Sir, currently I am studying in first year of bsc in biotechnology. I want to pursue my next coming years in any US university as a transfer student continuing my further second,third and fourth year there in the same course. Is it possible?

  10. Prasad on January 25, 2017 at 4:40 PM

    Need information about SAT exam and coaching in Hyderabad or Vizag .

    What will be the cost for engineering in degree course in USA ?.

    How much SAT score is required to get admission in good universities in USA ?.

  11. Debopriyo Majumder on December 8, 2016 at 3:53 PM

    hi, I’m a average student and I’m now in 12th . How much I have to score in h.s and SAT to get into ivy league??

  12. Gona Seshu on November 30, 2016 at 7:39 AM

    Hi
    This is Seshu from India,
    And I am going to appear for new sat on December 3 rd,so how much score is required to get a admission in good university’s with a good scholarship.

    • Rajdeep on December 22, 2016 at 12:56 PM

      Hey Goha! I’m Rajdeep, I too gave sat on December 3rd, may I know how much did you scored?

      Here’s the answer to your question: Range of 1250 to 1450 is considered great for good US colleges.

  13. Sakshi Chavan on October 3, 2016 at 7:15 AM

    Hello Mr Pranav.
    I am Sakshi want to join undergraduate program in Aeronautical engineering in USA in year 2018.
    Currently studying 11th. Please list of university that having Aeronautical engineering program.
    As well as SAT score respectively. Whether all this university give full scholarship for Indian student.
    For full scholarship what is the criteria for this university. please help me for understanding.
    Thanks
    Sakshi Chavan

    • Raghuram Sukumar on October 3, 2016 at 9:20 AM

      There are several schools for AE. Get good scores and aid depends on the school.

    • Punit on January 12, 2017 at 3:21 AM

      Hello Mr Pranav.
      I am punit want to join undergraduate program in mechanical engineering in USA in year 2018.
      Currently studying 11th. Please list of university that having mechanical engineering program.
      As well as SAT score respectively. Whether all this university give full scholarship for Indian student.
      For full scholarship what is the criteria for this university. please help me for understanding.
      Thanks

  14. Pranav Deshmukh on July 20, 2016 at 11:52 AM

    Hello I want to pursue marine engineering degree from University of Michigan and I am not that rich that I would study in us without scholarship can you help me about it I mean which scholarships are applicable in university of michigan

  15. Reshmi on June 10, 2016 at 4:29 AM

    My son is a US Citizen studying in India. He would like to pursue Medicine at a good university in the US. I may not be able to support him financially.
    Does he qualify for Instate tuition, being a Citizen?
    What are the scholarships available?

    • Rama Reddy on February 19, 2017 at 11:56 AM

      My son is a US Citizen studying in India. He would like to pursue Medicine at a good university in the US. I may not be able to support him financially.
      Does he qualify for Instate tuition, being a Citizen?1
      What are the scholarships available?

  16. Siva on May 1, 2016 at 3:15 AM

    Hi, My daughter intends pursuing per Bachelor’s degree in US . She has completed her Intermediate (10+2) from Hyderabad and obtained 96.5 %. Currently she holds a Visit VISA. So can she go to US and try getting an admission in US colleges.

    • Raghuram Sukumar on May 2, 2016 at 7:09 AM

      I don’t see a need for her to come to U.S. to apply for B.S. but, if you plan for Aug 2016 semester, she can come to be considered as domestic applicant.

  17. Shilpa on April 26, 2016 at 10:57 AM

    This post was very informative and useful.Just one query, the total cost mentioned is for four years or per year?

    • Raghuram Sukumar on April 26, 2016 at 11:32 AM

      In I-20 you will cost for 1 year. You have to do the math for 4 years.

  18. Umang patel on September 16, 2015 at 4:39 AM

    What is the total cost for studing in usa for computer engineering in degree ?

    • harshit on December 28, 2015 at 1:15 PM

      Hi I am harshit from middle class Indian family and I wanna study aerospace engineering at public universities in the USA but as they say you have to have 20 lacs minimum as liquid cash in your account but I have a big dream to study in USA is this possible

  19. Bindu on August 3, 2014 at 2:14 PM

    Thank you for the article. Do most universities grant scholarship based on SAT scores? And do we have to apply seperately for scholarships or is it enough to just apply for admission?

  20. hema on October 12, 2013 at 2:59 PM

    I would like to know the cost to study medicine in usa. And also like to know what are thexams she has to do to get scholarship

  21. hema on October 12, 2013 at 2:57 PM

    I would like to know the cost to study medicine in usa.

  22. chetanya on April 15, 2013 at 4:18 PM

    is it good to drop out a year from an admission to a nit college for foreign universitites ?? pls do reply…

  23. chetanya on April 14, 2013 at 1:51 PM

    thanks for the wonderful article..can u give me a rough idea on the sat score and the corresponding scholarship provided by diff. universities ??

  24. Uday.G. on February 28, 2013 at 4:47 AM

    Hi Pranav,
    Very well written post and thanks to the knowledge sharing. Have a daughter who is US citizen and wishes to go for BS Chem Engg. SAT = 1560 first run. Is an avg student in 11th grade now. Can she go alone for undergrad studies as a teen ? Is college better or Univ for getting scholarships ?

    UG

    • pranavkamat on March 9, 2013 at 7:57 PM

      Yes, she can definitely get into some good US university for her undergraduate studies.

  25. kalindi on January 6, 2013 at 9:07 AM

    what would be the average 11th class score for getting a good scholarship (coupled with good sat and toefl scores)?

    • pranavkamat on February 27, 2013 at 12:49 PM

      Frankly, I don’t think that US universities bother 11th scores.

  26. kalindi on January 6, 2013 at 8:59 AM

    hi
    thanks for all the info!
    i really want to know how i can increase my chances of getting a scholarship for my bachelor’s in usa. is giving the ap exams suggested?
    moreover, the counselors that i have met say that it costs around 15-20 lacs at least
    besides, they usually say that getting a scholarship for a ug course is very rare…
    please suggest as to what i can do…. i am in 11th cbse now

    • pranavkamat on February 27, 2013 at 12:53 PM

      Apologies for getting back this late.

      I recommend giving AP exams. Good scholarship = Good SAT score + Applying to generously scholarship-awarding universities.
      If you do it right, getting scholarships is not that rare.
      I received scholarships from all the universities that I applied to.

  27. Abhinav on December 21, 2012 at 12:22 PM

    Hello sir,
    I’m really interested in studying abroad, i want to do computer engineering and how much does it cost (in rupees) overall for 4 years which include tuition fees, medical and personal expenses and i’m a below average student.

    • pranavkamat on February 27, 2013 at 12:54 PM

      May I ask you to go through this post again?

  28. Shubham on November 6, 2012 at 1:09 PM

    Pranav, if I take a loan from bank then is there any problem to get a visa?

    I want to pursue BS in CSE. So please tell me !! Thanks !

    • pranavkamat on November 6, 2012 at 10:34 PM

      No, there won’t be any problem. But anyway, try to get lots of scholarship so that you need not take one.

      • Shubham on November 7, 2012 at 11:58 AM

        Thanks bro 🙂

  29. Ashish on November 6, 2012 at 10:31 AM

    i have just given my sat and got cr=490, m=630, w=520. Total=1640 . can you plz suggest me some us universities that may give me scholarships at that horrible score. btw i’m interested in comp.sci.

    • pranavkamat on November 6, 2012 at 10:29 PM

      Yes, you may get admitted in some university with scholarship. But I suggest you retake it and get a good score. Anyway, the earliest semester you may apply for is Fall 2013, so you have significant time to prepare well for it. Good SAT score = Good scholarship.

      • pranavkamat on November 6, 2012 at 10:32 PM

        If you think that this is the best score you can get, only then you should apply to the universities. I will be soon writing a post which addresses university selection for bachelors.

  30. Ashish on November 6, 2012 at 10:21 AM

    i have just given my sat and i got cr=490, m=630, w=520: Total=1640. can you plz suggest some us universities that may give me a reasonable scholarship at such horrible score. btw i’m interested in comp.sci..

  31. Rashi Jain on November 5, 2012 at 7:54 PM

    I WANT TO JOIN AERONAUTIC UNDERGRADUATE PROGRAMME ACCORDING TO EXPENSE WHICH COLLEGE IS GOOD AND MAKE ME ATTACHED TO NASA , I WANT TO BE ASTRONAUT

    • pranavkamat on November 6, 2012 at 10:22 PM

      Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University is the best for undergraduate degree. One of its book is actually a handbook used at NASA. But, I am not sure about its expenses.
      You can also go for aeronautical engg. at an affordable university and then vie a NASA-connecting university for your Masters.

  32. Nitin on November 4, 2012 at 9:21 PM

    Hi Pranav

    My son is a US citizen but living in India. I had a few questions and would be grateful if you could please answer these:

    1. Does he qualify for In State or Out of State tuition?
    2. I have heard that scholarships are rare for Undergrad, unlike Grad where a TA/RA can get you a stipend and a tuition waiver. How do scholarships work for undergrad, especially for top 50 Universities?
    3. What are the average tuition fees for Top 50 Universities in the US for undergrad?

    Thanks
    N K

    • pranavkamat on November 5, 2012 at 8:49 AM

      Nitin,

      I guess he would qualify for Out State tuition (not international). I am not sure about this so I suggest asking the university via email.

      Yes, scholarship opportunities are limited for Undergrads. To obtain scholarships from Top 50 universities, one must have extraordinary SAT and SAT Subject Tests score, strong academics and some extracurricular activities. I will be writing about seeking scholarships for Undergrad in my forthcoming post.

      The average annual In State fee would be approximately $12,000 and the average Out State fee would be around $23,000.

      Thanks,
      Pranav

  33. sahil706 on November 3, 2012 at 10:32 PM

    Hey Pranav …can you please provide me with name of some good universities where 50-70% aid can be easily received with a decent SAT score (1900+) and especially those which have industrial designing

    • pranavkamat on November 4, 2012 at 7:54 AM

      I am listing the most likely scholarship-providing universities based on the SAT score you mentioned.

      Check the curriculum, communicate with the Admissions Office of the universities, talk with seniors over there and only then apply to compatible universities.

      A major in Industrial Engineering will give you better exposure than what you get in Industrial Design.

      Also, internship opportunities are more for IE.

      Industrial design-

      Arizona State University
      Iowa State University
      North Carolina State, Raleigh
      Univ. of Kansas

      Industrial Engineering-

      Arizona State University
      Iowa State
      North Carolina State, Raleigh
      SUNY Buffalo
      Univ. of Toledo
      Univ. of Texas – Arlington
      Mississippi State University
      Oklahoma State University
      Univ. of Houston

      • sahil706 on November 7, 2012 at 10:18 PM

        Thanks but I disagree on the exposure part because industrial design is the same as product design while n industrial engineering the working of industrial machines .etc consists of the course work so IE and ID are COMPLETELY different fields. THanks for the university list I would appreciate if you provide me with a few more for industrial design as for Arizona state …they have a weird policy i.e. they accept nearly everybody but after 1st year they only select 30 who are allowed to go into the second year the rest have the option to either repeat or are kicked out.

        • pranavkamat on November 9, 2012 at 8:31 AM

          Thank you for enlightening me Sahil, I presumed IE has a significant amount of designing as well. Well, Co-op and other research opportunities are scattered across the college of Engineering. That’s why I asked you to opt for it. But, passion comes first! 🙂

          Here’s your list for Industrial Design:

          Ohio State University: Columbus
          University of Illinois at Chicago
          California State University: Long Beach
          University of Houston
          University of Cincinnati
          San Jose State University

  34. Sheldon on November 3, 2012 at 8:54 PM

    Hey Pranav,
    I checked the Univ of Toledo’s website and I just want to know whether it actually provides such scholarships to international students? No where on its website does it say something like that… It only says that it has scholarships that covers the out of state tuition surchage. I’m confused.. Can ypo please clear it out?
    Thanks,
    Sheldon

    • pranavkamat on November 3, 2012 at 9:54 PM

      It definitely provides scholarships to international students. Unfortunately, most of the universities won’t be clear about there scholarship policy on their website. You usually end up with more aid than what they mention on the website. I recommend you to communicate directly with the Admissions Office of a particular university for available scholarships.

  35. Harshith on November 2, 2012 at 11:57 PM

    Yeah is there any visa problems for undergraduate students and any restrictions for our 11th and 12th marks? Like eligibility? for admission?

    • pranavkamat on November 3, 2012 at 8:53 AM

      Provided you prepare well for the likely visa questions, there shouldn’t be any issues.
      There is no such eligibility criteria for admission. But there’s no harm in giving your best in 11th and 12th Grade.

  36. Harshith on November 2, 2012 at 11:40 PM

    Hey Pranav and Raghu first of all I want to thank you guys because I always thought that there is no such option such as Undergraduate course in USA. This post was so useful and the suggestions of Pranav really so helpful..I have some particular doubts about the College applications and Visa interviews..Pranav I am Harshith,I’ve sent you a mail to [email protected] please reply me. We can discuss here.

  37. Suprabh on November 2, 2012 at 11:14 PM

    How should i know which universities have funds for international students or help international student to meet up their finncial need? Many universities are not clear about international student aid. I would be thankful if you can provide list of colleges which offer scholarship or a particular site.
    Does leadership qualities also help in getting scholarship? Whats a good score for scholarship for a university which rank 100-160 in US News rankings?
    Thank You in advance and plz continue posting articles for bachelors.

    • pranavkamat on November 3, 2012 at 8:56 AM

      The CollegeBoard website has a college finder. You can input all your requirements in it including ‘aid available for international students’. You can also email the Admissions & Scholarship Office of the university asking for available aid and the eligibility criteria.

      • pranavkamat on November 3, 2012 at 5:14 PM

        Leadership qualities may help you get leadership scholarship. You will have to fill a separate application for this scholarship depending upon your university. For universities with rank 100-160, SAT score of 1600 to 1800 is above average and might fetch you some scholarships. 1800 to 2000 is a good score. 2000 to 2200 is ideal. 2200+ is extraordinary and may even fetch you full tuition waiver.

  38. Vignesh on November 1, 2012 at 2:33 AM

    This whole article is a crap.
    Never seek any advice from Happy School’s Blog.
    The above article is quite laughable.
    – Vignesh

    • pranavkamat on November 1, 2012 at 1:06 PM

      Vignesh,

      The figures above are derived from the experiences of my seniors.
      May I know what part of the post do you find laughable?

      Thanks,
      Pranav

      • Raghu on November 1, 2012 at 1:17 PM

        Pravan – Ignore his comments. His one and only job is write such comment for last 2 years or so. But, he still keeps visiting the site.

  39. sabyasachi sanyal on October 31, 2012 at 11:07 AM

    i will advice with my expereience that average student with low GRE score should not aspire
    for admission in any subject other than computer science in lower rank universities as this
    will cause simple wastage of hard earn money as it is very diffucult to get job after MS
    due to very little opportunities for Indian Students.

    • pranavkamat on November 1, 2012 at 1:09 PM

      Sabyasachi,

      I second your views. This post addresses undergrads. After a BS, for MS, one can always vie better universities.

  40. rakesh singh on October 30, 2012 at 7:22 PM

    cool to hear that you can get 90-95% tuition waiver

    • pranavkamat on November 1, 2012 at 1:10 PM

      Yes, you do get such waivers from select universities provided you have extraordinary SAT score and good academics.

  41. shubham on October 30, 2012 at 6:47 PM

    Thanks.>! Keep Posting for Bachelor’s ..!!

    • pranavkamat on November 1, 2012 at 2:26 PM

      Shubham,

      Do you need help in a particular issue?
      You are encouraged to post your questions here.

      Thanks,
      Pranav

  42. Ramesh on October 30, 2012 at 6:47 PM

    This is a well written one. Couple of areas where I had a problem : (i) There is too much of confusion with regard to Scholarships – whether it is FAFSA related – which is only for US students and the rest for international. I missed this out and hence missed an opportunity. I would suggest, spend a little more, arrange a call to the office of the university, talk to them and ask for advice on how to progress.
    (ii) On the expenditure front, be prepared to spend $1000 per year since there are universities which prefer textbooks written by their own prof and which have assignments in the book (the tear off variety). You will then have no choice but to buy new. Be prepared.
    (iii) I would like to know from the readers how to apply scholarships for Sem 2 / Year 2. It will help me.

    • pranavkamat on November 1, 2012 at 1:15 PM

      Applying for scholarships for Sem 2 is university specific. You should contact the Admissions & Scholarship Office of your University.

  43. vishnu` on October 30, 2012 at 6:21 PM

    I want to do my MS in USA in san fransisco state university(california). May I know the total cost for my 2yrs of masters including living and boarding there.Will it be more than 50000$ as I can bear hardly that much amount.

  44. deepak on October 30, 2012 at 5:29 PM

    tanx dued !!

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