How expensive is education in the US?

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The perfect financial checklist for an Indian student going to the US for undergraduate studies

Preparing to study abroad can be extremely enthralling yet equally challenging at the same time. Amidst the pressure of application deadlines and college essays, one of the most crucial questions we ask ourselves is whether we can actually afford the cost of studying abroad? 

It is no secret that education, especially in the USA, can bear a deep brunt on our pocket. On an average, undergraduate students can pay anywhere between INR 2-3 crores (approx $25,000-$50,000) on their four year education in the USA. Bearing this in mind it is extremely important that we formulate a plan well in advance, accumulate the necessary funds and then allocate them in an informed manner. 

In order to make these conscious decisions, we have put together a comprehensive checklist to guide you at about all the potential places where you will be required to use your funds as you go through the application process. 

  1. Is your device compatible?

Before you begin the application process it is important to check if your Mac/Ipad or PC is capable of fulfilling the browser requirements to access the application portals, entrance exams and specific features like virtual tours on college websites. The following browser requirements are recommended-:

BrowserFor (Proctored test)For(Non-proctored test)
Chrome version63 and above>20 (32.0.1700.76 is not supported)
Firefox version52 and above11 and above
Safari version12 and above4 and above
Microsoft Edge84.0.522.63 and above84.0.522.63 and above

*Credits: Mettl Assessment Platform

To check if these browser versions are supported by your laptop, navigate to the ‘About’ section on the respective browsers. You will find your version history here and you can check for updates. The browser requirements above should enable you to access most tools needed for your application process but requirements may vary on different websites. 

You must use a laptop or Ipad as most entrance testing systems cannot be accessed on phones. It is recommended to have easy access to printers, scanners and photocopiers since there will be many documents that require their usage. 

  • Career Counsellors (Optional)

Some people prefer to use professional career counsellors to guide them at every step as they fill out college applications. These counsellors are available both in person and online. They can be either Indian or international. Most counsellors have a wide range of customisable packages where you can choose how much assistance you need from them. The most common facilities provided by them include-:

  • Profile Building
  • Essay brainstorming and Editing
  • Subject Choice Guidance
  • Filling out application forms 

Websites like Ivy Dreams, Princeton Review and College Vine are popular websites that offer online career counselling. 

  • Registering for Preparatory Exams 

Most universities in the US require international students to appear for standardised tests as per their choice of major. Organizations like College Board, British Council and IDP etc. administer these tests across India. All standardised tests require students to pay a registration fee and some test centers may also charge additional fees which are not included in the cost below as it is subjective. 

            *You will not be required to give all the exams listed above

  • Preparation for Standardized Tests- OPTIONAL

Some people prefer to pre-prepare for the standardized tests mentioned above. This can be done through the following ways-:

  • In-person/ Online tuition with private tutors
  • Paid Mobile Apps (IELTS Prep App, IELTS Vocabulary App, TOEFL® Official App, SAT Flashcards: Prep & Vocabulary App etc.)
  • Online Coaching through websites ( Khan Academy, Prep Scholar)
  • Official Books (Princeton Review SAT Manuals, Erica Meltzer SAT Grammar etc.)
  • Application Fees for every College

Be it through the Common App or the Coalition App Portal, every college demands a registration fee while submitting your application to them. This fee varies for every college however most colleges charge between ₹2500-₹6000 per application. You can also apply for a fee waiver through your Common App or Coalition Portal portal. The process to do so will be available online on their respective websites . 

  • But, can you actually fund your 4- year education?

One of the most important questions to answer is whether you are actually capable of funding your own education. Although different methods of funding are always available, they are not a surety and therefore relying on them as your only plan can leave you in an unwanted spot. 

A typical fee breakdown in the US looks something like this-:

University fees (also called tuition)+ Living expenses (Rooms and meals) + Books and supplies +transportation +personal expenses + Health Insurances.

Fee charges are typically determined by the type of university (public or private), its location ( city or countryside?) and brand value (Ivy League or state colleges) Although the fee charged for every university is different, most colleges in the US charge upto INR 1.5- 2.5 crore as tuition fee from international applicants.

Bearing this in mind, it is important to analyze your funds beforehand and in case you are unable to self-fund, now is the time to look at student-loan options, college offered scholarships and external scholarships. 

  • Sending Test Scores to Universities 

After appearing for the standardized tests, most universities require students to ask the administering organization to send the applicant’s test scores directly to the universities through private online portals or as hard copies by mail. You can indicate your college choices to the test administrator and pay a fixed fee per college choice. Some common examples are given below-:

  • Visa Application

Congratulations! If you have reached this step, by now you would have received an offer from a university in the US and would have confirmed your offer. The Visa Process for an F1 Student Visa is simple and requires only the following payments-:

  • After receiving your ‘I-20 Form’ from your committed college, you must pay the SEVIS Fee online(Student and Exchange Visitor Information System). The amount to be paid here is ₹26,000 or $350. After paying this fee you will receive a SEVIS number as well as a payment receipt.
  • With the SEVIS Number, you can fill out the DS-160 Visa Application where you must pay a visa application fee of ₹11,850 or $160. After this payment, your visa application will be actively considered and you will be able to apply for an interview in the US consulate. 
  • All interviews are conducted in person so you will have to travel to your nearest US Consulate in either New Delhi, Kolkata, Mumbai, Chennai or Hyderabad. The travel cost for the interview trip has to be borne by the applicant themselves. 
  • Additional Exams required by your University 

Before you actually fly out to the US, you may have to attempt certain diagnostic tests for your chosen field of study. Although these tests are mostly administered by the university in-house, they may also use third party websites. In such a case, you will have to pay this fee yourself. Most Diagnostic Tests are taken in English Language Proficiency, Mathematics, Chemistry, Physics and Foreign Languages. 

Although this checklist may seem daunting at first, your entire application process can be made into an easy process by following it. Analyzing your resources carefully and aiming realistically is imperative. We are here to support you and your dreams every step of the way. To find the right student loan options for you, visit the educational loans section of our website