top of page
  • Writer's pictureAlex Carlon

Estimating the Cost of Attendance at U.S. Universities

Updated: Jul 29, 2022

Before applying to U.S. universities, it’s important that you and your family understand the cost of attendance. Tuition is not the only cost of attending. Room and board, health insurance, transportation and daily living expenses are just a few to take into consideration in your planning. When estimating the cost of attendance at U.S. universities keep the following expenses in mind.

Tuition: Tuition is often the largest cost. It is the money your family pays to your college or university for classes and other programming. Depending on the institution you attend, tuition costs differ. When calculating the cost of tuition and fees, use the cost the university lists for international students and subtract any scholarships the university has awarded you.

Room and Board: Room and board is the cost for your on-campus housing and meals. As an international student it is really convenient to live on campus with easy access to food, classes and amenities. If you decide you will live off-campus (not in a school-sponsored living arrangement), your “room and board” costs will be the rent you pay for your housing and the money you spend on food. When calculating the cost of room and board, use the cost the university lists for international students.

Books and Technology: Books and technology are two cost categories that are important to your day-to-day life at university. Most college courses will require you to have a laptop with which to take notes and conduct research. Most classes require textbooks as a necessary learning material. While it’s hard to estimate exactly what you’ll spend on books before arriving to campus, the average U.S. student spends between $1,200 to $1,500 a year on textbooks.

Living Expenses: Living expenses are all the day-to-day costs that come with living on your own. Examples of these expenses are money spent on clothing and off-campus dining, or money spent on entertainment (like going to the movies or to see a concert). A good way to estimate your living expenses would be to add up all of the money you spend on non-essential items each month, and multiply that by the number of months you’ll spend at college each year.

Transportation: As an international student, transportation to and from your home country will be one of the biggest cost categories your family has to factor into your yearly budget. Besides the cost of airplane tickets, you should also consider the cost of any hotels you’ll stay in prior to the start of the school year, and the cost of transportation from the airport to your college. If you plan to return to your home country during school breaks, that is another cost to factor in.

Visa Fees: The last cost categories to consider when estimating your cost of attendance at a U.S. college or university are fees. As part of your preparation for international study, you must apply for a student visa that will allow you to live and study in the U.S. As part of this application process, there are several fees which must be paid, including a SEVIS fee ($220-$350 USD) and a general visa application fee ($160 USD).

By adding your estimated costs for each of these categories together, your family can gain a clearer picture of what is required to finance your U.S. education.

To learn more about cost of attendance at U.S. universities, download EdAgree’s cost-of-attendance breakdown and worksheet at the link below.

Cost-of-Attendance Breakdown
Download PDF • 91KB

At EdAgree, we are here to help you identify your path to academic success at a U.S. university. We want to help you present your best self during the admissions process and additional support throughout study abroad and beyond! Including helping you identify financial support options for both financial and academic success.

Create your free EdAgree profile today to start your path to the right university for you and your future!

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page