Cost of living and studying in the USA | A guide for MS and MBA students

Understanding and managing the cost of living and studying in the USA is an integral part of a successful academic journey for MS and MBA students. Students can confidently navigate the financial landscape by proactively budgeting for housing, food, transportation, and so on. Read on!

Cost of living

The cost of living in the USA varies significantly based on the city and lifestyle. Generally, major cities such as San Francisco, New York, and Los Angeles tend to have a higher cost of living compared to smaller or rural cities. It’s crucial for students to factor in these differences when planning their budgets.

International students should budget between $10,000 and $25,000 a year, or $1,000 to $2,000 (approx) per month, to live in the United States. This covers the cost of your lodging, room and board, meals, transportation, textbooks, weather-appropriate attire, and entertainment.

Beyond tuition fees, students must consider additional expenses associated with their education. Textbooks, course materials, and other academic resources can contribute significantly to the overall cost of studying. It’s advisable to budget for these expenses in addition to tuition fees.

Other expenses

Here are the expenses that students might have to consider other than tuition fees.

  • Housing expenses: One of the most significant components of the cost of living is housing. Whether you choose on-campus housing, off-campus apartments, or shared accommodation, it’s essential to research and budget accordingly. Rental prices vary widely across cities, and the proximity to the university can also impact costs.
  • Food and groceries: Managing your food budget is crucial for maintaining a healthy and balanced lifestyle. While eating out occasionally is a nice treat, preparing meals at home can be more cost-effective. Local grocery stores and farmers’ markets often offer affordable options for fresh produce, allowing students to strike a balance between convenience and savings.
  • Transportation: The total expenditure for transportation can vary depending on the city and its public transportation system. Some cities have well-developed public transit networks, while others may require students to invest in a car. Considering alternatives, such as biking or walking, can also contribute to cost savings.
  • Personal expenses: From clothing and toiletries to entertainment and leisure activities, personal expenses lead to a wide range of costs. Creating a monthly budget for personal expenses helps students allocate funds appropriately and avoid overspending.
  • Medical expensesHealthcare in the USA can be expensive, and having adequate health insurance is essential. Most universities offer health insurance plans for international students, and it’s crucial to understand the coverage provided. Budgeting for unforeseen medical expenses is a prudent financial strategy.

Estimation of cost of living in the US

Based on various expenses, the estimated cost of living for students in the United States is provided in the table below.

Expenses in USAAverage yearly / Monthly cost
Accommodation$9,800 – $11,100 per year
Books and study material$900 – $2,000 per year
Clothes$500 per year
Electricity$100 – $150 per month
FoodOn campus: $250 per monthOff-campus: $400 – $600 per month
Phone subscription$50 per month
Home internet$45 – $50 per month
Health insurance$700 – $1,100 per year
Phone subscription$50 per month
Travel$300 – $700 per year
Water$50 – $75 per month

Tips to save money in the USA

Here are a few tips to save money that international students can follow while staying in the USA.

  • Create a budget- Develop a detailed monthly budget that includes all anticipated expenses. This will help you keep track of your spending and identify areas where you can cut costs.
  • Cook at home- Eating out frequently can quickly deplete your budget. Learning to cook simple and nutritious meals at home can save you a significant amount of money.
  • Utilize student discounts- Many businesses offer discounts to students. Whether it’s for transportation, entertainment, or shopping, always inquire about available student discounts to maximize savings.
  • Buy used textbooks- Textbooks can be expensive, but buying used or digital versions can significantly reduce costs. Consider renting textbooks when possible and explore online platforms for affordable alternatives.
  • Take advantage of free events- Universities and communities often host free events, lectures, and performances. Embracing these opportunities for entertainment can help you save money while enriching your cultural experience.
  • Share expenses- If possible, consider sharing housing and transportation expenses with fellow students. This collaborative approach can lead to substantial savings on rent, utilities, and commuting costs.

Leave a comment