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Cheapest Universities in USA for International Students in 2023

Dec 15, 2022Date Published
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UniSearch - Cheapest Universities in USA for International Students in 2023

There are over 1,000 universities in the USA, and it can be hard to find the one that's right for you. If you're an international student looking to study at one of these institutions, affordability might be one of your key considerations. What are the best universities within your budget? While many factors determine your tuition fee, some basic guidelines can help pinpoint a great university without breaking the bank. To make this decision more accessible, we have compiled a list of the best and cheapest universities in the USA for international students.

Most Affordable US Universities for International Students

The US has been and always will be a place where you can get great, quality education. The country is one of the most popular destinations for international students for a reason. The USA is in the lead for countries hosting the largest international student community!

The most expensive universities in the US can cost upwards of USD 40,000 per year. Some renowned institutions charge more than USD 50,000 per year in tuition for international students. Yet, there are several affordable universities in the USA for international students too.

We have selected the cheapest universities in the USA for international students by considering several factors. These factors include admission charges, global ranking, geographical location, and tuition fees.

Each university in this article is also chosen for its educational value. We hope our recommendations will help you save money and time in your search for the best and cheapest universities in the USA for international students.

The Average Cost of Studying in the USA

The cost of studying in the USA varies depending on where you live, what program you want to study, which university you’re enrolling in, and even the university's location. Here are a few of the most crucial details to remember:

  • As an international student, your tuition fees will automatically be several times higher than your domestic counterparts. When considering the sticker price of your chosen program, be sure to look at the international student or out-of-state student fees
  • If you are studying at a public university, the combined tuition and living costs round up to or above USD 30,000 per year
  • Some private universities may charge much more than public universities but may still be within your budget or a valuable investment considering the long-term value of the degree you receive
  • Perhaps you feel concerned that you can’t afford your ideal university upfront. In that case, some options for financial aid may be available, such as scholarships and grants, which could cover part or all of your tuition fees. US universities prioritise diversifying their campuses, and many offer generous international student scholarships to welcome students into their community!

How to Choose the Most Affordable University in the USA

One of the primary expenses to consider while planning to study in the US is tuition. Public universities have lower tuition costs than private ones. The cost of education also varies according to the subject. Humanities, arts, and education courses are less costly than engineering and medical courses.

Find the most affordable universities by following these steps:

  • Selecting the University: The first step is finding out what degree program you want and selecting a university based on that. If you want detailed information about the university, the school website is an excellent place to start looking. Look into the details of your program, eligibility requirements, application window, and other relevant information

  • Calculating the Costs: Once you've decided which university would be best for your needs, it's time to consider the cost of living and tuition fees. Searching up the cost of attendance for your chosen university will usually direct you to a dedicated page on the university website breaking down the same.

    Tuition fees are a major component of your expenses, but you will also need to consider the costs of living in the country while you study there. This will vary depending on where you reside. You might find that you can save some dollars by weighing your cost of living considerations while affording an excellent university education.

  • Graduate Rate: You should also look at the graduation rate of each university so that you know if it's worth attending. So make sure those numbers match up before deciding where YOUR future lies!

Cheap Universities in the USA (Bachelor's)

Plenty of US universities offer affordable bachelor's degrees to international students. Admission requirements for international students vary depending on whether they want to study full-time or part-time. However, you will generally need a high school-leaving qualification or its equivalent with an SAT score.

For a low-cost undergraduate degree in the USA, you should prepare to spend at least USD 40,000 per year, including housing and any other incidentals. The bill may easily reach USD 90,000 per year in certain private universities.

For Bachelor's degrees, we've put together a list of some of the cheapest universities in the USA for international students where you can get an affordable but quality education:

Tuition Fees (for Bachelors)
Popular Programs
Brigham Young University
Provo, Utah
USD 11,000 to 14,000/year
  • Electrical/Electronic engineering technology
  • Mechanical engineering technology
  • Physics

City College of New York (CUNY)
New York City
USD 18,600/year
  • Accounting
  • General Studies
  • Liberal Arts & Sciences

Kent State University
USD $20,799/year

  • Business administration
  • Civil engineering
  • Computer science/Information systems & Software engineering
  • Electrical/Electronic engineering technology
  • Mechanical engineering technology
  • Physics
Minot State University (MSU)
Minot, North Dakota
USD $17,421.76/year
  • Business administration
  • Education and human services
  • Health science
  • Physical therapy
Nicholls State University
Thibodaux, Louisiana
USD 12,393.06/year
  • Business Administration and Management
  • Health Services & Allied Health & Health Sciences
  • Computer Science
University of South Florida
USD 17,324/year
  • Engineering/Manufacturing/Systems
  • Speech-Language Pathology
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Nursing
  • Education

1. Brigham Young University - Provo

If you want to attend one of the top US institutions while maintaining a manageable budget, then BYU-Provo is the perfect fit. Students from all around the world are welcome at BYU! It is one of the best and cheapest universities in the USA for international students that offers quality bachelor's degrees.

The university has a solid academic reputation, ranking as one of America's best universities according to U.S News & World Report. BYU ranks as a top global university on the QS World University Rankings 2023 and BYU-Provo ranks as a top 150 US college according to Times Higher Education.

BYU has over 100 programs ranging from bachelor's degrees to master's degrees, with tuition fees starting at USD 11,000 per year and going up to USD 50,000-60,000 per year, depending on which degree you choose. It has a good reputation for its engineering programs, business schools, and science programs.

The acceptance percentage at Brigham Young University-Provo is 66.2%, making admissions more competitive. International students have many opportunities to get involved with their community outside of class time or research projects. BYU also offers a variety of scholarships for international students who want to pursue their education at this institution.

Tuition and fees: USD 11,000 to 14,000/year for international students.

Admission Requirements:
  • Pay a $35 non-refundable application fee
  • Be prepared to uphold the Honor Code
  • Hold a high school diploma or equivalent
  • Minimum standardised test scores (GPA 3.0)
  • Send your ACT or SAT results (if required)
  • Score on English Proficiency (if required)Submit all the necessary documentation such as:
  • Statement of purpose
  • Letters of recommendation
  • Transcripts/mark sheets

2. City University of New York

CUNY is the largest urban university in the United States. It offers bachelor's degrees, master’s degrees, doctoral programs and certificates to over 200,000 students. The institution has a diverse student body consisting of over 50% international students from more than 150 countries.

CUNY ranks in the top 750 global universities according to QS World University Rankings 2023. US News & World Report places it as the 151st best university in the country, an impressive placement considering that the USA has thousands of higher education providers.

Tuition fees: International students must pay USD 18,600 per year as full-time student tuition. However, several scholarships available can reduce the cost, such as the Fulbright Scholarship Program, International Student Exchange Program (ISEP), and Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU). Take a look into whether you qualify for them!

Admission Requirements:
  • A high school diploma/GED certificate/ A levels
  • An SAT/ACT/GRE score depending on the country (if required)
  • Two letters from teachers reporting on your academic performance
  • An essay describing why you want to attend CUNY
  • ACT/SAT scores if required for admission into specific programs such as medical school or law school
  • English proficiency test scores (IELTS/TOEFL/PTE)
  • Recommendation letters from counselors who have worked closely with you during your time at high schools/colleges

3. Kent State University, Ohio

Kent State University is one of the best universities in the USA and a globally-ranking institution. KSU offers over 300 undergraduate degree programs across its campuses.

The acceptance rate of 87% for international applicants makes it one of the least competitive colleges in this country. Many scholarships are also available for international students who want to study at KSU! The university offers several degree options to international students, including Bachelor's degree programs in:

  • Business administration
  • Civil engineering
  • Computer science/Information systems & Software engineering
  • Electrical/Electronic engineering technology
  • Mechanical engineering technology
  • Physics

Tuition fees: The tuition fees per year vary depending on the subject and course duration. Per year fees average around $20,799 a year for full-time undergraduate students

Admission Requirements:
  • Non-refundable application fee of $70.
  • Secondary School Graduation Certificate/Diploma/Attending Certificate
  • A GPA of 2.5
  • Transcripts/marksheets
  • ACT/SAT scores if required for admission into specific programs such as medical school or law school
  • English proficiency test scores: TOEFL - 71, IELTS - 6.0 and PTE - 48
  • Proof of Financial Support

4. Minot State University

Minot State University (MSU) is a public university in Minot, North Dakota. MSU also offers graduate programs in nursing, education administration, speech-language pathology and others.

The university has about 4,500 students enrolled across its three campuses. Graduation rates are high at Minot State University. This means they're getting into the job market sooner without disrupting their education! Another perk comes with high graduation rates: job placement rates are also very high at over 70%.

Tuition fees: The tuition and fees at MSU is USD $17,421.76 per year.

Admission Requirements:
  • A $35 non-refundable application fee
  • English proficiency test scores, TOEFL 71, IELTS 6.0, and PTE 50
  • Official academic documents showing prior academic achievement
  • Official Entrance Exam Score
  • Supporting financial documents
  • International Transfer Student Form (if required)
  • Completed Form I-20 application and Certification of Financial Responsibility
  • Details page of passport

5. Nicholls State University

Nicholls State University is a public university in Thibodaux, Louisiana. It's a Southeastern Louisiana University System member and has an enrollment of about 6,000 students. It offers bachelor's degree programs in business administration and computer science, as well as graduate studies in nursing, among over 100 programs across various disciplines.

In addition to its on-campus programs, the university also provides online courses for students who prefer to study at home or outside of traditional classroom settings. The institution was acknowledged as one of the top options for dyslexic pupils in 2017.

Tuition fees: $ 12,393.06 per year for international students.

Admission Requirements:
  • A $30 non-refundable application fee
  • English proficiency test scores, TOEFL 71, IELTS 6.0, and PTE 50
  • Proof of readiness in university-level Math and English
  • Official academic documents showing prior academic achievement
  • Supporting financial documents
  • Provide proof that their college transcripts have been translated into English
  • Proof of immunization compliance form

Cheap Universities in the USA (Masters)

Master’s degrees may not be as expensive as Bachelor’s degrees, since typically they are shorter in duration. Many students pay for their Master’s degree with a scholarship, and some also get financial aid from the government.

Here are our top five cheap universities in the USA that offer Master's degree programs for international students.:

Tuition Fees (for Masters)
Popular Programs
California State University
Long Beach, California

USD $15,446 - $24,302/year
  • Business administration
  • Education and human services
Alcorn State University
Alcorn, Mississippi

USD 7,290/year

  • Masters of Business Administration (M.B.A)
  • Master of Arts (M.A)
  • Master of Science (M.Sc)
Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art
New York City
USD 23,635 per semester
  • Architecture
  • Electrical and Electronics Engineering
  • Civil Engineering
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Chemical Engineering
San Diego State University
San Diego, California
USD 13,000-16,000/year
  • Masters of Business Administration (M.B.A)
The University of Texas at Dallas
USD 31,352/year
  • Business Administration
  • Computer Science
  • Engineering
  • Mathematics
  • Marine biology
  • Social Sciences
  • Political Science

1. California State University

CSULB is a public university in Long Beach, California. It has more than 40,000 students and offers more than 200 majors and 70 minors to its students.

The school also offers graduate programs such as an MBA, Master of Social Work, or other professional degrees such as an LLM from its Law School or PhD program in Engineering Management Management Science Technology Policy & Entrepreneurship Development.

Tuition fees: International students at the graduate school pay USD $15,446 - $24,302 in tuition each year. You should evaluate the course, prices, and structures before applying.

There are various scholarships offered by CSULB, including Lyman G. Chaffee Scholarships, which cover tuition costs and stipend allowances up to USD 20,000 per year.

Admission Requirements:
  • A $70 non-refundable application fee
  • You must have an undergraduate degree from a relevant university
  • Candidates must submit TOEFL scores between 80-100 (Internet-Based Test) or 550-600 (Paper-Based Test). Some campuses and programs may accept IELTS scores
  • Show evidence that you have sufficient financial resources to complete your course of study
  • You will be required to fill out a Health Evaluation Form on CSU. Ask the departments for their specific form

2. Alcorn State University

ASU is one of the most affordable institutions in the USA. It offers 15 graduate programs, including courses in history, business administration, biology, computer and information science, biotechnology, applied science and technology, and liberal arts.

Tuition fees: The graduate school's out-of-state students pay an annual tuition cost of $7,290 USD. Before applying, you should review the course, costs, and structures. In addition, the institution offers financial help and scholarships to low-income, intellectually gifted students. To be eligible for these scholarships, students must fulfil particular requirements.

Admission Requirements:
  • A completed application for admission
  • Two letters of recommendation
  • Submit all the academic records
  • Scores from SAT (if required by the department)
  • Provide evidence of having adequate financial support
  • TOEFL - a minimum composite score of 525 on the Paper-based, 195 on the Computer-based, and 71 on the Internet-based.

3. Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art

Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art (CUASA) is a private college that offers Master’s degrees in architecture, fine arts, engineering, science, and liberal studies.

It is best known for its master’s degree courses in Architecture and Engineering. Interestingly, Thomas Edison enrolled in a four-year chemistry course at Cooper Union in 1875. This university now enrolls students from over 35 different nations.

Tuition fees: The tuition fee for its Graduate School of Engineering is $1,390 per credit, with 30 credits. Its School of Architecture has a tuition fee of USD 23,635 per semester. The university also offers several grants and scholarships on a merit-based system. You can learn more about these scholarships before arriving at a decision.

Admission Requirements:
  • Submit all the required documentation and transcripts from high school and/or colleges previously attended.
  • Provide evidence of having adequate financial support (scholarships, affidavit of support, etc.)
  • English Language Proficiency Score: TOEFL 600 (paper-based) 100 (internet-based)/IELTS 7.0/DET 120

4. San Diego State University

San Diego State University is a public research university in San Diego, California, and is the largest and oldest higher education institution in San Diego County. It has over 46,000 students from all over the world, including many international students looking for affordable universities.

It has one of the best public MBA programs in the US. If you do not have enough information or need help filling out forms, we recommend contacting an admissions counselor directly who can help you through this process!

Tuition fees: For international graduate students, the tuition fee is between USD 13,000-16,000/year . SDSU offers scholarships to international students who wish to study at this university. There are many different scholarships available annually, but only a few are open each year, so you need to check back regularly if you want one!

Admission Requirements:
  • Have a valid bachelor's degree from a college or university-recognized institution
  • Provide evidence of having adequate financial support
  • Submit transcripts, attestations, or mark sheets showing courses and examination

5. The University of Texas at Dallas

The University of Texas at Dallas is an affordable and prestigious institution that has become a top choice for international students. The course selection offered by UTD is extensive and diverse. The school offers a wide range of programs, including business, health sciences, engineering, education and more.

Tuition fees: The tuition fees for international students are lower than those of other institutes in the area. The graduate school's out-of-state students pay an annual tuition cost of USD 31,352.

Admission Requirements:
  • Basic information such as name, address, and date of birth
  • Education history information, such as high school or Bachelor’s degree (or equivalent) name, location, and completion dates
  • English proficiency–completion and score, if relevant
  • One-time non-refundable Application Fee

Scholarships/Financial Aid for International Students

If you are a student from another country, finding funding can be very difficult. However, there are many ways that you can qualify for scholarships and grants to help offset some of your costs while studying in the United States. Some of these include:

  • Financial aid - This type of scholarship is usually awarded by universities or colleges based on financial need and family status. The amount varies depending on your situation but generally ranges between USD 500-5000 per year. In many cases, financial aid programs may be exclusive to US residents, but many schools will still consider you for need-based scholarships.
  • Scholarship programs - Many students can get scholarships that cover all or a portion of their educational and living costs. You can apply for scholarships based on academic and athletic achievement, financial need, and leadership potential.

There are many scholarships available for international students. The university will ensure you know about all the scholarship opportunities before deciding on your course of study. So you can apply directly or through the university.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How do you afford to study in the US as an international student?

As an international student, you can find cheap universities in the USA. If you want to study abroad but don't have enough money for an expensive program, consider applying for scholarships instead of taking out student loans. There are many scholarships available for international students, but some of them require that you have a certain GPA or test score.

The best way for an international student looking for cheaper education options might be through public colleges instead of private universities, where tuition fees will cost more than $10k per year! There are also ways of saving money when studying abroad: get a part-time job while studying (if needed), and work part-time during holidays/ breaks.

Why do US universities charge more for international students?

The answer is simple: the cost of living in the United States is higher than in many other countries, which increases the cost of tuition. So it can be more expensive for an international student to live here.

The cost of living depends on where you live and what you need to pay for rent, food, transportation, etc. While some universities have made an effort to provide more financial aid for international students, this can still be difficult for some students who do not have family support or money from home (like scholarships).

Our Concluding Thoughts

The US is the best place to study, with its teaching standards and facilities. If you're looking at private colleges or universities, more fees will be involved. So we advise you to look for public institutions to locate the cheapest universities in the USA for international students. Remember that just because they offer affordable education doesn't mean the education is low quality. The majority of institutions have as their mission to offer an excellent education at reasonable costs.