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The International Student Blog

Can I Afford College in the US?

Posted on September 19th, 2014 by Bryanna Davis

The dream of studying in the United States as an international student is a great one- but it quickly comes to a halt for most students as the long list of expenses come to mind. Although you know you want to study in the US and it would be a great career move- you still need to ask yourself “Can I afford college in the US?” If you’ve asked yourself this question already and have no idea how to answer it- we will take a look at a few factors you need to consider in order to answer this question and find a school in the US that you can afford.

Stay Grounded.

First, be realistic about how much you can spend. While it’s fun to search through all of the top tier schools, make sure you’re looking at the price tag of those schools and have a realistic understanding on what the total cost would be in addition to the tuition. If you find a school that you love and the first year of tuition would take up nearly every cent you have- you will want to keep searching.

How much is too much?

Before you start looking at schools it’s important to establish approximately how much you can spend on your education. For example- if your budget per year is $50,000 then you will have a lot more options than if your budget is closer to $15,000 per year. You will be able to automatically eliminate a number of schools based upon this approximate number right away. To figure out this amount you can look at a few factors. You will first need to know how much money you personally can contribute, and how much your parents are able to contribute. Next, look at the average starting salary for the career that you want to pursue. If you’ll only be starting at $20,000 per year and you plan on spending $50,000 per year on your education you will be swimming in debt for many years. Make sure that what you can expect to earn once you graduate will be enough to pay off any international student loans you’ve taken out.

Tuition is only the start!

Tuition will take up a good portion of your budget, but it won’t be the only expense you need to worry about. You will also need to budget for items like room and board, travel expenses, health insurance, textbooks, daily living items and entertainment. The cost of these items will vary greatly throughout the US. When you research the different areas of the United States to see where you would like to live make sure you don’t skip over information on the average cost of living. Compare the average cost of living of a number of different locations throughout the US so you can get a good understanding of what would be considered a high cost of living versus a low cost of living.

Get help.

Although worth it- an education in the US is expensive. Many students require outside help after personal and family funds have been tapped into. This is where international student loans and scholarships come in. Using loans and scholarships can help you afford a US school, just keep in mind that you will have to show proof of funds before you come to the US so you need to plan ahead as much as possible.

If you want to start searching for a school in the US and see which ones you can afford, start looking now.

Written by Bryanna Davis

Bryanna joined EIC in 2011 after returning to the United States from teaching English in China. Her interest in international education, sparked initially by her own study abroad experience in Wales, led her to the company. Bryanna is originally from Missouri and is a graduate from the University of Central Missouri.

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