Paying for U.S. Education

For most students and their families, the cost of paying for a U.S. degree is the most important factor in the U.S. university admissions process.


Students and their families should not make the mistake of applying for admission first and then scrambling to find enough money later! To avoid the disappointment of gaining admission but not having sufficient funding to take up your place, consider funding as you choose a university and explore funding options as you complete your applications. An understanding of the finances required for applying for admission, as well as for every year of study is essential. As the cost of higher education increases everywhere, it is important for parents and students to know what costs to expect and to develop a plan to cover these. Finding funding for undergraduate study in the U.S. is a challenge for both American and international students alike. The key is starting early choosing universities appropriately and putting in the necessary time and effort to seek out and apply for scholarships. Also keep in mind you will need to demonstrate access to funding for the first year of study in order to apply for a visa.


Tuition and fees rates can vary significantly from university to university. The cost of living can vary drastically as well, by location. Annual undergraduate tuition costs at U.S. schools range from $3,000 to $40,000. Annual living expenses depend on local conditions and range from $7,000 to $24,000.


Generally speaking, there are four types of funding for study in the U.S.:

  • Personal/family savings - no matter how large or small! Even if you receive a scholarship from a U.S. university, you may still have to pay for your visa or airfare..
  • Loans from a U.S. or Indian lender
  • Scholarships from U.S. universities
  • Scholarships from external funding bodies (i.e. Rotary, Tata Group, etc)
  • Sports scholarships

The good news is that every year international students receive significant amounts of financial assistance toward their studies in the U.S. According to the most recent IIE’s Open Doors Report, there are 819,644 international students in the U.S. including 96,754 Indian students. Many of these students have benefited from the available financial assistance opportunities.


If college affordability is a key consideration for your university selections, you may wish to try some of these strategies for choosing universities:

  • Consider public universities to minimize the initial tuition and fees rates charged
  • Choose universities at which there is a lower cost of living, such as universities in suburban or rural areas or in the South and Midwest
  • Choose universities that offer significant need-based financial aid: Many U.S. universities offer financial aid based upon need, as well as merit. Keep in mind the universities that offer need-based scholarships to international students are usually very competitive. For information on universities that offer full or partial scholarships to international students, contact the EducationUSA offices at USIEF.
  • Choose universities that offer scholarships for Indian/international students: Some universities will offer scholarships specifically for Indian and/or international students. You can find a list of the universities that offer this type of scholarship in the handout on university funding for undergraduate study. Scholarships announcements are also available from the EducationUSA Twitter page.
  • Choose universities at which you will be a top student: If you think you would be eligible for academic merit scholarships, you will want to make sure you apply to universities where you are well above the average SAT and marks of admitted students, since funding is often reserved for top students.
  • Attend a community college. Community colleges prepare students to pursue a Bachelor's degree and community college graduates can easily transfer to a four-year university after completing two years of study in a two-plus-two arrangement. Community colleges are often a low-cost option and have less competitive admission requirements than a four year university.

For any query on U.S. higher education, call us on our EdUSA toll-free hotline 1800-103-1231 between 2pm and 5pm (Monday-Friday)