hide costs not in letter study
The total cost is sometimes omitted from letters. Source: Shutterstock

If you’re struggling to work out how much studying in the US will cost, new research has shown that you’re certainly not alone.

A recent report from New America together with uAspire stated that 36 percent of award letters containing financial information from US universities don’t actually state the amount a student will need to pay the university, confusing many soon-to-be freshmen.

Studying abroad is rarely a cheap affair. It’s something that requires a significant amount of planning, time, energy and, did we mention, money?

It’s crucial that students who are about to embark on their studies in the US understand exactly how much they will have to pay, how much they may be borrowing and how much they could be granted free of charge.

The report detailed information collected from letters from 900 schools across the US, uncovering a wealth of confusing acronyms and jargon, on top of failing to detail the difference between a scholarship and loan, resulting in an unclear understanding of how much students would really be charged to study in the country.

“Students and families confront a detrimental lack of information and transparency when making one of the biggest financial decisions of their lives: paying for college,” uAspire reported.

These letters are often sent in the spring, informing students of any scholarships or grants they may receive in the coming academic year.

This often coincides with the time many students confirm their university decision, meaning students and their families cannot make an accurate assessment on rival offers if they are confused about the financial impact of choosing one over the other.

With no national standard, it can be difficult for both domestic and international students to make informed decisions by comparing costs at different schools. The costs themselves were calculated using 23 different formulas across all 900 schools.

Some colleges include any loans provided in the total cost that will need to be paid back, but others choose to omit this information, making misleading claims about what it’s really going to cost.

Some universities also add on essential costs like the average price for accommodation, meals and books, but others do not.

So, while one school may seem to be significantly cheaper than another, it could be missing crucial information that would way towards a student’s decision.

If you’re hoping to study in the US, be sure to check (and check again) the exact costs you will be expected to pay. If you’ve been offered a scholarship, be certain exactly what this will cover and whether it just applies to you first year or for subsequent years, too. You can never be too careful!

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