Cost of Studying in the US: Fees, Living Costs, Visa Cost & More


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Anand Patinge

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Many Indian students aspire to pursue their education in the United States. But this ambition often comes with a significant financial burden.

So, how much money is required to study in the USA? Typically, the cost ranges from $25,000 to $50,000 annually for tuition and associated fees.

In addition, living expenses constitute a significant portion of the overall cost.

Let’s delve into the key expenses associated with pursuing higher education in the United States.


Cost of Studying in the USA

The United States is a coveted destination for Indian students.

However, it also carries the reputation of being among the most expensive study destinations globally. Most middle-class Indian students ponder the same question: ‘how much money is required to study in the USA?’.

However, the cost is more manageable than anticipated.

Let’s learn about various components that add up to the cost.

Tuition Fees

This is the principal cost for Indian students.

It ranges between $25,000 – $60,000/year, which is approximately ₹20,50,000 – ₹49,20,000/year.


Tuition fees at reputed institutes are quite high. 

For example, the cost of studying MS in the USA at University of Chicago can range between $55,000 — $59,000/year, which equals to ₹45,10,000 – ₹48,38,000/year.

Other expenses include:

  • Apartment Housing with Utilities: $300 to $3,000+/month, approximately ₹24,600 to ₹2,46,000+/month.
  • Dormitory Housing: $800 to $900/month (Campus Housing), approximately ₹65,600 to ₹73,800/month.
  • Food (Annual): $3,000 or ₹2,46,000
  • Books and Supplies (Annual): $500 to $1,000, approximately ₹41,000 to ₹82,000.
  • Transportation (Monthly): $20 to $100+ or ₹1,640 to ₹8,200+.
  • Utilities (Monthly, if living off-campus):
  • Electricity: $50 to $100 or ₹4,100 to ₹8,200.
  • Heat: $50 to $100, approximately ₹4,100 to ₹8,200.
  • Internet: $45 to $50, roughly ₹3,690 to ₹4,100.
  • Health Insurance (Annual): $500 to $2,000, approximately ₹41,000 to ₹1,64,000.

The total cost is between $35,000 to $75,000 every year, which translates to about ₹2,870,000 to ₹6,150,000 annually.

Requirements for Studying in the USA

International students are generally required to take several standardized tests. These are categorized into English language proficiency tests and academic assessment tests.

  • English Language Proficiency Tests

These tests are required to show that you have the English language skills necessary to succeed in your academic program.

The most common tests are the TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) and the IELTS (International English Language Testing System).

The specific test you need to take and the required score will vary depending on the university you are applying to.

  • Standardized Tests

These tests are used to assess your academic readiness for college-level work.

The most common standardized tests for international students are:

Undergraduate Programs

  • SAT: Measures English and Math abilities, with a score range of 1,000 to 1,600.
  • ACT: Assesses proficiency in science, math, and English, generally requiring a minimum score of around 22.

Graduate Programs

  • GRE: Common for various programs, particularly in business and engineering, with an average score expectation above 250.
  • GMAT: Vital for business management and MBA programs, with top schools often seeking scores of 600 or 650 and higher.
  • LSAT: Mandatory for law programs, typically requiring a score around 150, but top schools may demand 160 or above.
  • MCAT: Essential for medical programs, with an average score expectation around 510, though top schools may require higher scores.

Cost of Studying Course-wise Fees

The exact cost of studying in the USA for Indian students can vary significantly depending on factors such as the choice of institution, and location.

Annual tuition fees typically range from $20,000 to $55,000. The average cost falls around $35,000 per year.

Humanities, education, and arts programs tend to have lower tuition fees, averaging around $30,000-$32,000 annually.

Fields like medicine, engineering, and business management often have higher costs, reaching up to $55,000 per year. The cost of studying MS in the USA can be quite high at premier institutions. 

Here’s an estimation of the average cost of studying in the USA for Indian students (annual tuition fees) for various courses in 2024:

  • Engineering: $28,000 – $48,000 (approximately ₹22,96,000 – ₹39,36,000)
  • Business Administration: $33,000 – $53,000 (approximately ₹27,06,000 – ₹43,46,000)
  • Humanities: $23,000 – $43,000 (approximately ₹18,86,000 – ₹35,26,000)
  • Science and Technology: $33,000 – $53,000 (approximately ₹27,06,000 – ₹43,46,000)
  • Medicine and Health Sciences: $38,000 – $63,000 (approximately ₹31,16,000 – ₹51,66,000)

Disclaimer – These are broad estimates and do not purport to be exact answers to how much money is required to study in the USA.

Cost of Living in the USA

Studying in the United States is an exciting experience. But while budgeting, students can underestimate the true costs. 

Among the other costs, the cost of living is the most substantial one. Let’s understand how it can add up. 

  1. Accommodation Costs
  • On-Campus Housing: Many universities offer on-campus housing options such as dormitories or student apartments. The cost varies by institution and location. On average, expect to pay around $8,000 to $12,000/year (approximately ₹6,56,000 to ₹9,84,000/year) for shared rooms or basic accommodations.
  • Off-Campus Housing: Renting an apartment off-campus is common. Prices vary significantly based on the city. In major cities like New York or San Francisco, monthly rents can range from $1,500 to $3,000/month (approximately ₹1,23,000 to ₹2,46,000/month) for a one-bedroom apartment. Smaller cities may have more affordable options.
  1. Food and Groceries

The cost of food depends on your eating habits and location. On average, a student can spend approximately $200 to $400/month (around ₹16,400 to ₹32,800/month).

Cooking at home is generally more economical than eating out frequently.


  1. Transportation Expenses

Public transportation (buses, subways, etc.) costs vary by city. Monthly passes can range from $50 to $150 (approximately ₹4,100 to ₹12,300).

If you plan to drive, consider expenses like car insurance, fuel, and parking fees.

  1. Health Insurance

Most universities require international students to have health insurance. The annual cost can be around $1,000 to $2,000 (approximately ₹82,000 to ₹1,64,000).

Health insurance covers medical emergencies, doctor visits, and prescriptions.

  1. Academic Supplies and Personal Items

Textbooks, stationery, and other academic supplies can add up. Budget around $500 to $1,000/year (approximately ₹41,000 to ₹82,000/year).

Personal items like toiletries, clothing, and electronics also contribute to expenses.

  1. Entertainment and Social Activities:

Exploring the local culture, attending events, and socializing are essential parts of the student experience. Allocate a budget for entertainment.

Movie tickets, concerts, and dining out can cost $50 to $100/month (around ₹4,100 to ₹8,200/month).

  1. Miscellaneous Costs

These include phone bills, internet, and occasional travel. Budget around $100 to $200/month (approximately ₹8,200 to ₹16,400/month).

Also read: A Guide To Accommodation In The USA For Students

Visa Cost and Other cost of studying in the USA for indian students 

The US government permits Indian students to study in the country, but obtaining a student visa is a prerequisite. The type of education dictates the specific visa needed. Below are the three main study visas and their respective requirements:

F-1 Visa

The F-1 visa is intended for international students pursuing full-time academic programs in the United States.

  • Application Fee: For Indian students, the F-1 visa application fee is $185 (₹15,170) USD.
  • Total Cost: The overall cost for an F-1 student visa, including SEVIS fees and maintenance fees, is approximately $510 (₹41,820) USD.

M-1 Visa

The M-1 visa is for students interested in vocational or non-academic training in the US.

  • Application Fee: The M-1 visa application process involves a SEVIS I-901 fee of $330 (₹27,060) USD and an application fee of $185 (₹15,170) USD.
  • Total Cost: The total cost for an M-1 visa varies based on the program and applicant but includes the mentioned fees.

J-1 Visa

The J-1 visa is for academic and cultural exchanges, including internships, research programs, and cultural exchange programs.

  • Application Fee: The J-1 visa application fee is approximately $160 (₹13,120) USD.
  • Additional Fees: Depending on the program, there may be other costs such as SEVIS fees and waiver fees.

Also read Everything You Need To Know About USA Visa Slot Booking For Students

Why Choose the USA for Higher Studies? 

There are many reasons why students choose to study in the USA. Here are some of the top draws:

  • Academic Excellence: The US boasts some of the world’s most prestigious universities, consistently ranking high in global rankings. These institutions offer top-notch faculty, and cutting-edge research opportunities, that equip students with valuable knowledge.
  • Diverse Range of Programs: US universities offer a vast range of undergraduate and graduate programs across almost every field of study.
  • Flexible and Practical Education: The US education system is known for its flexibility. You can often choose your courses, customize your program to a certain extent, and gain practical experience through internships or research opportunities.
  • Vibrant Campus Life: Many US universities have a strong focus on campus life. They offer a variety of extracurricular activities, clubs, organizations, and social events. This can be a great way to meet new people and get involved in the campus community.
  • Culturally Rich Environment: The US is a melting pot of cultures, with people from all over the world. Studying in the US allows you to experience this diversity firsthand, and broaden your horizons.

Scholarships and Financial Aids for USA Studies

The average cost of studying in the USA for Indian students can be several lakhs of rupees. But scholarships make studying there more affordable. These scholarships significantly reduce tuition fees and support living expenses.

Examples include:

  • Hubert Humphrey Fellowship Program: Part of the Fulbright program, it covers living expenses, professional costs, and tuition fees.
  • International Education Financial Aid (IEFA): Funded by Abbey Road Inc., it offers summer scholarships for high school students.
  • AAUW International Fellowships: Designed for women pursuing research and study in the USA.
  • Stanford Reliance Dhirubhai Fellowship: Offers 80% coverage for MBA tuition and fees.
  • Tata Scholarship: Provided by Cornell University for Indian undergraduate students. It covers full tuition fees.
  • Mahindra Scholarship: Awarded by Harvard University’s Mahindra Humanities Center for Indian students in humanities studies. It covers tuition fees and offers additional support.

Remember that this is not an exhaustive list, and many American universities and colleges have their own scholarships specifically for Indian students.

Top Universities to Study in the US

The top universities in the United States for 2024 are known for their excellence in various academic fields.

Here are some of the prominent institutions:

  1. Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT): Known for its leading programs in engineering, computer science, and physical sciences.
  2. Harvard University: The oldest higher education institution in the US, Harvard is esteemed for its strong emphasis on arts and humanities, as well as science and technology.
  3. Stanford University: Located in California’s Silicon Valley, Stanford is notable for its significant contributions to the tech industry and strong entrepreneurial culture.
  4. University of California, Berkeley (UCB): Renowned for its diverse range of programs and emphasis on research.
  5. University of Chicago: Offers a rigorous academic environment with strong programs in economics, law, and the physical sciences.

Are you experiencing uncertainty when it comes to selecting the perfect school for your educational journey? The US Department of Education lists nearly 4,000 colleges and universities. It is absolutely possible to get overwhelmed. 

Fear not and make your way to SelectRight

SelectRight is a user-friendly platform to help students discover optimal education programs in the United States. 

Over 60,000 students have used it to find their best university; some said it was like having Ramanujan by their side to crunch the data and point out the path to the best university. 

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Steps to Create Your SelectRight Profile

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Education Loans for USA Studies

The cost of studying in the USA for Indian students can be prohibitive. Education loans from Indian banks offer a solution. Here are some key options:

The following table offers a comparison of interest rates for education loans in India. 


Bank/NBFC Interest Rate Range Loan Type Loan Amount Range
State Bank of India 8.30% to 11.50% Need-based term loan up to 15 years. Up to ₹1.5 Crore
Punjab National Bank 8.55% to 11.25% Need-based term loan up to 15 years. Up to ₹1 Crore
Bank of Baroda 9.10% to 12.45% Term loan need-based funding. Up to ₹80 Lakhs
ICICI Bank 9.50% onwards Term loan up to ₹1 crore for domestic, and ₹2 crore for international studies. Up to ₹2 Crore
Bank of India 8.25% to 11.60% Term loan need-based financing. Up to ₹1 Crore
Bank of Maharashtra 9.20% to 11.05% Term loan up to ₹10 lakh in domestic and up to ₹20 lakh for abroad studies. Up to ₹20 Lakhs
Central Bank of India 8.30% to 11.25% Term loan up to ₹50 lakh. Up to ₹50 Lakhs
Axis Bank 13.70% to 15.20% Customizable loans with flexible repayment options. Up to ₹40 Lakhs
Kotak Mahindra Bank Up to 16.00% Custom solutions based on course and institution. Varies
Canara Bank 7.30% to 9.30% Need-based term loan. Up to ₹40 Lakhs
Mpower Finance Starts from 8.00% No collateral, cosigner-free loans. Up to $100,000
Prodigy Finance Variable Borderless credit, based on future earning potential. Up to 100% of tuition fees


Getting a loan can be a dizzying process. Visiting bank branches with documents, waiting endless hours can be enough to sap anyone.

There is a solution to all your woes. 

Introducing FundRight, a specialized platform aimed at aiding students in obtaining education loans for their overseas studies. 

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Students across India have used FundRight to secure their best education loans. Join the cult; learn more.

Also read Insurance On Education Loan. Learn All About It


  • What is the SEVIS Fee?

SEVIS stands for the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System. The SEVIS fee is a fee that international students must pay to the U.S. government to help fund the SEVIS program. This fee is typically paid by individuals who are applying for certain types of visas, such as F and J visas.

  • Will there be a background check for a US visa?

When applying for a US visa, background checks are a part of the process. Specific details on the extent of the background check are not publicly available. But it’s understood that the process includes checking your personal, professional, and financial backgrounds to assess eligibility and security risks.

  • Can I work while studying in the USA?

Students on F-1 visas are typically allowed to work on campus up to 20 hours per week during the academic year and full-time during holidays and vacation periods.

  • Can I stay in the USA after completing my studies?

After completing your studies, you may apply for Optional Practical Training (OPT) to work in the USA for up to one year. In the case of STEM graduates, it is three years. Beyond that, you would need a work visa sponsored by an employer.

  • Is health insurance mandatory for international students in the USA?

Yes, most universities require international students to have health insurance. Some institutions offer their own health plans, while others require students to procure their own.

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Anand Patinge

A master storyteller, Anand has enriched multiple entities with captivating designs, compelling messaging, and impactful media campaigns. Beyond work, you can find him feeding stray dogs, exploring art, and watching insiprational documentaries.

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