Average Cost of Living in the USA

According to Statista, a popular statistics agency in the US, there were 948,519 international students in the US in the academic year 2021 – 2022, among which 199,182 were from India. Numerous reports underline that the number of Indian students in the US is growing, and they will outnumber the count from any other country in the upcoming years. The US Immigration and Customs Enforcement, in its annual report for 2022, says that India sent 64,300 students in 2022, the largest for a country. 

More Indian students are on their way to study in the US. Studying in the US opens up great career opportunities and a path to better financial stability for you. However, the rising cost of studying in America may pose a challenge if you don’t have a financial source. The cost of study varies with universities, courses, location, personal habits, and many other reasons.

Average living costs in the US

As mentioned, the cost of studying and living in the US is dependent on multiple factors and predicting the exact amount is highly difficult. As a student planning to study in America, you must have an idea of the standard expenses there. 

The table below gives you your standard cost of living in the US, thereby helping you have a general idea of expenses in America for international students:

Expenses in the US Average Cost
Monthly rent
1,000 - 3,000 USD per month
On-campus: 250 - 300 USD per month
Off-campus: 400 - 600 USD per month
20 - 50 USD per month
Water, Trash, Gas
50 - 75 USD per month
Health Insurance
700 - 1,100 USD yearly
Phone bills
50 - 80 USD per month
30 - 70 USD per month
Books and stationaries
90 - 200 USD per month
500 - 600 USD yearly
Heating (winter)
500 - 600 USD for the season

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Cost of living for different cities in the US

As you move from big cities to suburban locations in America, you can see a change of living costs. According to the US government data, there is a difference of 8.3% in the price for things across different locations. The table below shows the cost of living in select big cities in the US as estimated by Expatistan, a popular statistical agency.

Big Cities in the US

Average Monthly Cost of Living

New York

5,485 USD

San Francisco

6,098 USD


4,341 USD


3,799 USD


4,641 USD

Los Angeles

4,202 USD


4,202 USD

Similarly, the cost of living in suburban American cities as estimated by Expatistan is given below: 

Suburban Cities in the US

Average Monthly Cost of Living


3,783 USD


3,320 USD


3,666 USD


3,953 USD


4,341 USD


4,890 USD

Cost of study for international students in the US

The tuition fee for international students in the US ranges from 20,000 – 55,000 USD for undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral programs. The university for each program determines the tuition fee, so you need to check the university websites to know how much will be your tuition costs.

Stream of Study

Cost of Study


30,000 – 120,000 USD


40,000 – 60,000 USD


50,000 – 100,000 USD


30,000 – 50,000 USD

Humanities & Social Sciences

30,000 – 50,000 USD


Accommodation costs in the US

The average cost of accommodation in the US differs for on-campus and off-campus stay as shown below: 
  • On-campus accommodation costs: 800 – 1,100 per month
  • Off-campus accommodation costs:  500 – 900 per month
The table below shows different types of off-campus accommodation for international students and average monthly rent:

Type of Accommodation

Average Monthly Rent

Shared Apartment

400 – 600 USD

Residence Halls

800 – 900 USD


300 – 500 USD

Additional expenses for a person in the US

Apart from the essential expenses, you will be having personal expenses in America, depending on your interests. Typically, you can expect 500 USD per month as an additional living cost. Some of the popular personal expenses are listed below: 

  • Entertainment – cinema, museum, games, shows, outings, etc

  • Gym membership

  • Personal shopping – furniture, PC, utensils, etc. 

  • Car rentals for local travel

  • Additional medical expenses

And so on. 

You must consider these additional expenses while finding the source of funds and add these to your financial plan.

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How to reduce the living expenses in the US?

The cost of living in the US must be under your control to have financial stability throughout the course of your study. Follow the tips below to reduce your monthly costs in the US: 

  • Make a financial plan and stick to it: You must have a plan of spending money every month and stick to it. This practice will help you control your expenses and eventually improve your financial management abilities. 
  • Choose a low-rent stay: Compare all rental options and choose an option with less rent and required facilities. Saving on your rent is the most cost-effective savings in America for international students. 
  • Rely on public transport: In the US, instead of car and bike rentals, use public transport systems. Students get special discounts, and this will help them save more on travel. 
  • Explore student offers: Various student offers are available for food, clothing, furniture, entertainment, etc., in America. Explore your special discounts and utilize them to save more money.  International Student Identity Cards (ISIC), International Student Exchange Cards (ISE), etc., are some examples of such student discounts in the US.

What are the funding options for international students in the US?

The critical question is about funding your studies in the US. It is mandatory to show proof of funds to obtain Form I-20 and a US student visa. Mentioned below are some financial options for international students in the US: 

  • Education loans: Education loans help students study in America without any concern over funds, and the repayment starts only after the course period. Depending on your situation, you can apply for education loans with or without collateral. Check the link to get our personalized guidance to explore education loan options for your profile.
  • Self-funding: If you have enough funds, you can sponsor your study in the US by yourself. Submit proof for self-funding while you apply for Form I-20 and a US student visa. 
  • Scholarships: There are multiple scholarships in America for international students offered by the government, NGOs, trusts, universities, etc. Explore the link to see details of scholarships for international students in the US.
  • Sponsorships: You can explore sponsorships for your study in the US by individuals or non-profit organizations. Such sponsorships are usually fully or partly funded, depending on specific terms and conditions. 
  • Part-time jobs: In the US, you can work up to 20 hours a week while studying. Such part-time jobs will help you earn more money to meet your monthly expenses.

Take help from Nomad Credit for assistance on your journey to study in the US. Get help with admission counseling, profile evaluation, university shortlisting, education loan guidance, and so on. Our dedicated team of experts are here to streamline the process and make the journey hassle-free for you. Click here to get in touch with our counselors.

Frequently Asked Questions Section

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the expenses before landing in the US for international students? 

The following are some of the top expenses an international student has before landing in the US for studies:

Is studying in the US expensive for international students? 

Studying in the US can be expensive for international students. The tuition fees and cost of living together are a big number, for which international students must have a source of funding, such as an education loan. 

Which US state is cheaper for international students to study and live in?

According to US News data, Mississippi is the US state with the lowest cost of living, followed by Alabama, Kentucky, Arkansas, and Iowa. 

Can a person from a middle-class Indian family afford the cost of living in the US? 

With the help of education loans, scholarships, etc., a person from a middle-class Indian family can afford to study in the US. Get in touch with our counselors for guidance on education loan options to study in the US.

How expensive is the US compared to India for international students? 

According to Expatistan, a popular statistics agency, the US is 241% more expensive than India.

Can I settle in the US after graduation? 

Yes, you can. You need to follow the guidelines applicable for Permanent Residency in the US and prove your eligibility.

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