Do you fancy studying in the best university system in the world? Would you like a qualification that is globally recognised? The reason we ask is because tuition, room and board at university in the United States can cost anywhere between $15,000 and $40,000 depending where it is you choose to study. Got a spare $40,000 lying around? No? Well, that certainly is unfortunate, but the good news is there are tonnes of things you can do to make your American dream a reality.

There’s no denying that studying in America is a huge financial commitment, but the knowledge you’ll gain, the friends you’ll make and the memories you’ll share along the way are sure to change your life forever. That being said, what is it exactly that constitutes a good value education?

American national pride is utterly infectious, and no other nation in values education quite like the Americans. These figures may seem a little daunting, but the truth of the matter is that a little extra cash spent on your tuition might be the best decision you’ll ever make. Whatever you decide, the road to higher education requires careful planning. With that in mind, here are a few things international students can do to get the best bang for their educational buck in the United States:

Make a Budget

When calculating the annual cost of a U.S education at a particularly good University or College, adding at least $6,000 to the published cost of tuition, fees and board will provide you with a more realistic estimate. Most Universities detail helpful information about their fees and other costs on their websites, and have dedicated staff on hand to answer your questions. Don’t be shy- send them an email!

University costs, required admissions tests and other useful information can be found in the International Student Handbook of U.S Colleges. Your local library might have a copy for you to browse, or you can easily buy one online.

If you bring other family members, you can assume that your annual expenses will increase by 15%, or $5,000 for each additional family member.

There are a whole host of websites that give useful tips on how to save money whilst on campus, such as where you can buy second hand textbooks. Be a savvy saver- do your research before you go.

Find Out About Financial Aid

As a rule in the U.S, it is harder for international students to get scholarships or other forms of financial aid than for domestic students, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t possible. One of the best sources for financial aid whilst you study in the U.S are organisations from your home country. The nearest educational advising centre may have information about local sources of support. Some Universities in the States have exchange programmes with their counterparts in foreign countries, which often includes financial aid for international students. Ask your local University to find out about these programmes.

Of the few private scholarships for international students, most will require you to apply from your home country. If you are already in the U.S you might not be eligible, so you are strongly advised to research your entitlements before you arrive in the States. For example, one option for post graduates is the prestigious Fullbright Scholarship programme, awarded to 4,700 students every year, worldwide.

Some U.S schools offer desirable financial aid packages for international students; to find out more about scholarships and fellowships, research FinAid and FastWeb databases.

Get Help from Your Family

Studies have shown that 7% of undergraduate international students finance their studies from their own resources, or resources obtained from their family.  The majority of international students are actually funded from sources back in their home country. A few U.S banks will offer student loans to international students if the loan is co-signed by a credited U.S citizen or permanent resident, also known as holder of a “Green Card”.

Study Hard and Enjoy the Experience

The harder you work, the more value you’ll gain from your qualification, and the more you’ll enjoy living in a new environment. If you work hard you can play hard, and it will make things a lot easier in the future. American Universities value the contribution of international students, so you are well advised to find out about the range of support services available so that you can make the most of them.

Choose Well

It is essential that you find a University that suits your needs and aspirations. There are a huge number of options in the American education system, so you are guaranteed to find something that’s perfect for you. Write down a checklist of the things you want from your education, and then get out there and find it!

To get an idea of the range of educational opportunities and the value that they offer, consider the contributions of these great value American Universities:

Kennesaw State University

Kennesaw State’s unique programmes for new and transferring students are steadily gathering plaudits for excellence; in fact, KSU’s first year seminar programme is consistently ranked by U.S news as one of the best in the country. The Association for International Educators has recognised KSU for its efforts to make its campus a diverse international community, confirming it as an institution well worth your investment. With colleges of Education, Business, Nursing, Humanities and Social Sciences, Science and Mathematics and the Arts, KSU provides a full range of programmes to suit a variety of learning requirements. Located just a short drive from Atlanta, Georgia, Kennesaw State University perfectly combines the safety of a campus with a big-city quality of life. Visit the website.

University of Wyoming

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The University of Wyoming is the peak education institution of the state. Situated in the University town of Laramie, with more 12,000 students originating from 80 different countries, it is large enough to provide a true University experience, with no fewer than 200 clubs and organisations. As well as offering relatively lower costs of living than those outside of the big cities, the Princeton Review has previously rated the University of Wyoming as one of the nation’s best value undergraduate institutions. This was supported by, which ranked UW fifth among “America’s best college buys”. On top of this, Wyoming has been rated as one of the top 10 affordable states in the United States. Visit the website.

Fort Hays State University

Fort Hays State University is a smart choice for anyone looking to gain an affordable education in the U.S, and a major bonus for international students is the unique American experience offered by this institution. Situated on the plains of Western Kansas, the city of Hays was established in the days of expanding frontiers, and was once home to historical figures such as George Custer and Wild Bill Hickock. However, the learning experience at Fort Hays State University is unlikely to live up to any preconceptions you may have regarding the wild, wild West. Students at Fort Hays benefit from living in an affordable, tight-knit community, alongside the flexibility of having a range of virtual coursework available on a wireless campus. Fort Hays’ partnership with community colleges across the nation makes for a range of entry options, and their Virtual College awards degrees in dozens of areas such as business communication, counselling, education, and nursing administration. Visit the website.


University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

If you love the idea of studying at one of the most prestigious Universities in the United States- but are not so keen on the prohibitive cost of the Ivy Leagues- then the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill could be the one for you. Beginning instruction of undergraduates in 1789, UNC is the oldest public University in the Unites States, and is world class for both teaching and research. According to Kiplinger’s Personal Finance magazine, UNC is also ranked as number one for overall best value in U.S public higher education, and has done so since 1998 when the magazine began its analysis. The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill prides itself on a strong, diverse student body, academic opportunities not found anywhere else, and a value unmatched by any public University in the nation. Visit the website.

The University of Rochester

The University of Rochester is a real gem. It’s smaller and more intimate than most Universities, but the campus is beautiful, and it is acknowledged as one of the country’s top-tier Universities. Situated in the West of New York state, Rochester often receives honourable mentions as being one of America’s most liveable cities. The 9,300 students at the University of Rochester learn on a personal scale, with a low student to teacher ratio of 9:1 which allows for mentoring and support. Rochester’s reputation as a top research University is exemplified by the fact that it is the home of the world’s most powerful fusion laser, and the alma mater of no fewer than eight Nobel Prize winners. Visit the website.

Illinois Institute of Technology

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Affectionately known as Illinois Tech, the Illinois Institute of Technology is a private University with programmes in Engineering, Science, Psychology, Architecture, Business, Communications, Industrial Technology, Information Technology, Design and Law. With five campuses throughout the Chicago area, and alumni around the world, IIT pairs the educational and cultural experiences of America’s Second City with a cosy undergraduate population of just under 2,300, and a total population of just under 7,400. Illinois Tech boasts that it provides a focused, interdisciplinary approach to education, and that students graduate with significant professional experience and research exposure that isn’t available to students at large state Universities. IIT students benefit from small classes, a faculty of noted scholars and researchers, and resources geared towards undergraduates. Visit the website.

Wake Forest University

With its main campus in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, Wake Forest University is a private institution that remains in the rankings of the best Universities in America. Its Calloway School of Business and Accountancy also ranks extremely high. Wake Forest offers the personal attention of a small Liberal Arts College, coupled with the breadth and depth of a large research institution. With an extraordinary ration of 12 students to every Professor, students at Wakefield benefit from engagement with outstanding teachers, inside and outside of the classroom. Visit the website.

University of California-Irvine

For anyone looking to combine the lifestyle of southern California with a prestigious qualification, the highly regarded University of California is exactly what you are looking for. UCI is one of the 10 general campuses of the University of California, and is a top 10 public research University, ranked by the U.S News and World Report as a Tier 1 research University. With nearly 28,000 students, 1,100 faculty members and 9,000 staff, UCI is among the most diverse campuses in the University of California network. UCI is consistently ranked among the nation’s top Universities- public as well as private- with achievements in a broad range of fields that have garnered high national rankings for many schools, departments and programmes. UCI also offers an innovative international undergraduate programme, including one-on-one help from academic advisors, and specialised language and culture courses. Visit the website.

Montana State University

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If you want to combine your education with the beautiful great outdoors, you can not ignore Montana State University. MSU is situated in a stunning natural setting at the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, and is only 90 miles from Yellowstone National Park. MSU’s enquiry-based curriculum is designed to inspire exploration and creativity, whilst ensuring your exposure to a quality education. Every student participates in a research or creative experience from one of our four areas: Arts, Humanities, Natural Sciences and Social Sciences. MSU is routinely listed as one of America’s “best buys” for undergraduate education by U.S news, and the University counts several recipients of the Rhodes and Truman Scholarship amongst its many graduates. MSU’s Office of International Programmes provides all the support international students need, and the website is a great resource for prospective students looking to plan their budgets. Visit the website.

University of Miami

If you do not fancy shivering through a North American winter to obtain a world-class education, then look no further than the University of Miami. A private research University with more than 15,000 students from around the world, the University of Miami is a diverse academic environment focused on teaching, learning, and the discovery of new knowledge. The main campus is situated in Coral Gables, an affordable, pedestrian-friendly area within easy reach of the cosmopolitan city, Miami. As well as providing a great lifestyle, the climate of Florida means that international students won’t need to pay for heating, or a new wardrobe! UM has consistently been recognised as the number one school in Florida, while several of its programmes are ranked among “America’s Best Graduate Schools”. Visit the website.


This article first appeared on Asian Correspondent.

Image via Shutterstock.

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