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The Cheapest U.S. Colleges for International Students

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Compare costs of different colleges to build your list


International students studying in the United States often face higher tuition costs than in-state or U.S. citizen students. However, some U.S. colleges and universities are more affordable for international students compared to others. But it's essential to keep in mind that affordability can still vary based on factors like location, scholarships, and the specific program of study.

To help you navigate the college search process as an international student, we compiled this list of affordable colleges for international students. 

How we compiled the list of colleges & universities

In order to be included in this list of most affordable schools for international students, the school must satisfy the following criteria:

  • Enroll at least 400 international students as undergraduate students. The average international student enrollment was 1,207.
  • At least five percent of undergraduate enrollment must be international. The average percentage of international students was eight percent.
  • Charge less than $25,000 for out-of-state tuition and fees and less than $40,000 for out-of-state tuition, fees, room, board, books, and supplies, based on 2015-2016 published college costs. The average tuition and fees total was $18,010, and the average of the full college costs was $32,604.

Of the 82 colleges, 73 were public colleges, eight were non-profit, and one was for-profit. The most popular states were New York, California, and Texas.

Although these colleges charge low tuition, there are some colleges that charge higher tuition but also provide generous financial aid to international students. Many of the two dozen colleges that provide need-blind admission to international students also meet the full demonstrated financial need of these students, making them just as affordable as the low-cost colleges.

Least expensive U.S. schools for international students

The name of each school is linked to their admissions office website. Look for a link labeled “International Students” or “International Admissions” on these web pages for information and forms for international students.

The additional costs associated with college 

While the tuition at these schools presents an attractive proposition, it's crucial to factor in additional costs that significantly impact the overall expense of studying abroad. Application fees, which range from $50 to over $100 per college application, are often overlooked. As are any fees for a potentially required English language test. But these are the first step in your educational journey.

Once admitted, room and board become substantial expenses, with costs fluctuating based on location and housing options. According to the College Board, the average cost for room and board in public institutions was approximately $11,950 per academic year for the 2022-2023 period. At private colleges, this cost was higher, averaging around $13,620.

Moreover, the academic essentials such as books, lab fees, and specialized equipment or software for certain courses can add a considerable amount to your budget. It's also important to consider personal expenses, transportation, health insurance, and potentially, fees for student organizations or extracurricular activities. These ancillary costs, while varying from one student to another, are pivotal in planning your financials for a comprehensive college experience in the U.S.

Now compare the costs of colleges to build your list

So, you know which schools tend to be cheaper. It's now time to see side-by-side cost comparisons. Just click the button below to use Appily's college cost comparison tool. It's always free and easy to use. 

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