The average Cost of Living in the USA for Students

The average cost of living in the USA for students is between $10,000 to $18,000 per year. This assures us of an average between $1,000 to $1,500 per month, which will include rental costs for such a student, feeding, transportation cost, weather-appropriate clothing, and the purchase of study materials.

Cost of Living in the USA for Students

The education system in the USA is flexible and will, for obvious reasons, remain an all-time favorite study destination for international students. Students are assured of vibrant campus life, cultural diversity, and, most importantly, the availability of job opportunities in their immediate environment.

Between 2020 and 2022, there has been a decline in most international students’ living conditions, which can be directly linked to the restrictions placed as a result of COVID-19.

For many international students, questions around accommodation, feeding, insurance, and even study bills keep them up at night and punching the numbers. In this article, we have therefore tried to provide a rundown of what the cost of living in the USA as an International student could mean.

We have carefully given specific estimations of the average cost of living in the USA for an International student. The following are calculated yearly;

  • Books and study materials – $1,200 per year;
  • Travel expenses – $700 per year;
  • Accommodation – between $9,800 – $11,100 per year;
  • Electricity – $1,200 per year;
  • Food – On campus: $3,000 per year and Off-campus at $6,000 per year.
  • Phone subscription – $600 per year
  • Home Internet – $600 per year
  • Health Insurance – $1,100 per year
  • Clothes – $500 per year
  • Water, Trash, and Sewer – $900 per year

According to data gathered on the trends in College Pricing and Student Aid 2021 by the College Board, we have been able to provide you with an average tuition cost using different institutional sectors, tuition, and room and board as our parameters.

Sector Tuition and Fees Room and Board
Public Four-Year In-State






Public Two-Year In-District






Public Four-Year Out-of-State






Private Non-profit Four-Year






Next, we looked at housing/accommodation in the USA as another parameter to consider to adequately keep you informed of the average expenses an international student might encounter.



Average monthly cost


Off-campus stay


·        Sharing: $450 per month

·        One-bedroom apartment in rural states: $500 per month

·        One-bedroom apartment in urban states: $3,500 per month


On-campus stay


·        Public colleges: $9,800 yearly

·        Private colleges: $1,100 yearly


Next, let’s quickly look at the living expenses in the USA for different states; this will enable us to spot the differences in the expenses of students living in cities and those living in the suburbs.

From the table below, it is clear that international students living in big cities like Boston, San Fransisco, or California incur higher costs in their expenses when compared to their contemporaries living in sub-urban cities like New Orleans, Texas, and the rest. Here is a quick view;

 Big Cities

Average Monthly Expenses City






New York








San Francisco


Suburban Cities

Average Monthly Expenses Suburban City






New Orleans














Other Living Expenses in the USA

There are other costs to be borne by students while studying in the US, and these costs may increase by as high as 6 to 9% yearly, considering inflation and other factors.

Therefore, we advise international students to consider all the above expenses and set aside the sum of $2,000 for additional expenses in the USA. These expenses can include any of the following:

  • Travel expenses between their birth country and the US during vacation time
  • Medical expenses outside their health insurance, e.g., dental care and cosmetic treatments.
  • For large purchases, such as furniture.
  • Additional summer expenses – you will be in the USA during vacations for months.
  • Funds to take care of your off-campus transportation.
  • Don’t forget to set funds aside for entertainment and weekend trips!
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