Cost to Study in USA: A Guide for International Students


Genia Jones
Content Specialist
Genia is a writer for FXcompared. She has over 15 years of experience working in the financial industry as a writer, analyst, marketer, and content strategist. She enjoys writing about emerging trends… Read more

From navigating a difficult admissions process to paying tuition fees, moving abroad to study in the United States (USA) can be daunting. However, with the right guidance, you can break down the costs involved step by step to make the process much easier.

For international students looking to study in the USA, knowing the market and knowing the different options for financing your education can help you to maintain your focus on your classes, instead of worrying about how you’re going to pay for them. 

In particular, sending money abroad through a trusted money transfer specialist could help you save money that can be put towards books, nights out and exploring the USA. So without further ado, here’s what you need to know about studying in America as an international student. 

How Much Does Studying in the USA Cost?

According to a recent survey from Open Doors, there were almost 950,000 international students studying in the USA for the 2021/2022 academic year, up 4% on the year before. 

This rising demand for international students means that American colleges and universities have stepped up recruitment and funding efforts. However, it also means that studying in America tends to be more expensive for international students.

This is mainly due to higher tuition fees; at state schools, international students are typically charged out-of-state tuition and some universities (public and private alike) charge extra international student fees. According to College Board, which tracks pricing for student costs in America, the cost for undergraduate students going to a state college for a four-year course went up to $10,940 for the 2022/2023 period, while for a private non-profit institution fees rose as high as $39,400. 

Additional Fees for International Students

International students might also be required to pay additional fees for the privilege. Ohio State University, for example, is charging an international undergraduate student fee of $1,464 per semester for the 2022/2023 season. 

International students are typically also required to obtain their own health or medical insurance, which can add hundreds of dollars per term to overall costs of attendance. This is in addition to living costs such as rent or dormitory fees; food; telephone; school books and supplies; and other personal expenses.

Considering that international students are not eligible for federal financial aid in the USA, there are significant barriers to financing a college education as an international student. However, it’s still possible to save on some of the costs when paying fees via a money transfer provider, as we discuss more below. 

Paying Tuition and Other Costs

paying for university in united states

While some schools offer financial aid for international students, according to the Association of International Educators, most foreign scholarship aid is reserved for graduate study. It is highly uncommon for USA colleges and universities to offer tuition discounts to international students at the undergraduate level. 

If you’re an international student coming to pursue a degree in the USA, it is most likely that you will be paying the full sticker price for your course of study. This means you or your family will be sending money to the US from your home country fairly regularly. Learning the most cost-effective ways to make an international transfer to the USA to fund your studies will make a big difference in how much you end up paying overall.

While using a bank to make an international money transfer may seem like the obvious solution, banks frequently add their own set of fees to wire transfers, including charges to exchange currency, which can add up to 3% or more to the final cost. For a $50,000 tuition bill, these fees could amount to an additional $1,500.

Send Money Using a Foreign Exchange Specialist

Working with a low or no-fee specialist currency broker can help keep the costs associated with international money transfers low. There are several things to keep in mind when paying a tuition bill using a wire transfer service however, which we’ve highlighted below.

Use a University-approved Wire Service for Your Transaction

Most colleges in the USA have a list of wire services with which they regularly work. Contact the school’s accounting office or campus bursar, or check on the school’s website. By using an approved wire service, you can help to ensure that your transfer will get there on time and that the service you use is a trusted, verified company for sending money overseas.

Check You are Paying the Correct Amount

Make sure you are aware of all of the fees being charged, as well as when your payment is scheduled to arrive in the recipient account. Forex brokers do not use intermediaries for money transfers and so do not charge an intermediary fee. 

Banks, however, sometimes send money through an intermediary bank that may charge an additional fee. If the money you’ve wired isn’t enough to cover all of these fees in addition to the cost of tuition, you could end up short on your tuition payment, resulting in penalties for late payment from your school or possibly being blocked from enrolling in classes.

Save Money by Using a Money Transfer Provider

Sometimes, a student can be charged fees by both their home bank and the receiving bank in the USA when they send an international wire transfer. For example, the student’s home bank may charge a 3% fee to wire $10,000 to a USA bank account. 

The USA-based bank account that the student opened to receive the wire transfer may also charge a fee of 3% to receive the wire transfer. So, the student pays a total of $600 just to transfer the money. 

To avoid accruing fees from two different banks, make a payment through a transfer service provider so that it is transferred directly to the school. Generally, schools in the USA charge little or no additional fees for accepting fund transfers from banks or from wire services.

If you are an international student planning to study abroad in the USA, use FXcompared's Comparison Tool to find a  currency specialist that fits your needs

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