The US university system, while revered across the globe, is incredibly unique, and can be difficult to get your head around. Not to mention the fact that American tuition fees are notoriously high.
There is no government standard for fees in the US, and so they are uniquely set by the governing body of that institution. Fees are also subject to change based on departments within a university, demand, specific subject costs and expected salary levels once students have graduated.
There are several different tertiary institutions in America: public sector, two-year institutes called community, technical or city colleges, public ‘state’ universities and private universities.
Whilst tuition fees vary based on a multitude of different factors, this is the main distinction students can draw between cost brackets. Private universities are typically the most expensive, followed by state universities and then community colleges.
You can also lower cost by gaining an associate’s degree at a community college and then applying to a state college where you will complete the remainder of your bachelor’s degree. This means that your associate degree counts as the first half of a bachelor’s degree, which can then be completed by transferring to a university for an additional two or three years.
Costs of study at different types of US university
Anyone familiar with the basic rules of averages will have realized that the College Board’s estimate is likely to include significant variation in either direction
At top-tier US universities (the majority of which are private non-profits), fees and living costs are likely to add up to around US$60,000 per year, but it’s also possible to study in the US at a much lower outlay.
Those seeking a more affordable option will find lower tuition fees at US universities within the public sector. These are typically run as state university systems – collections of colleges within a state, which share some administrative aspects while operating as separate institutions.
Public universities in the US have two tuition fee rates: one for state residents and one for everyone else. The second (more expensive) category applies equally to applicants from other US states and other countries.
Private universities tend to be much smaller than public universities and have a more diverse student population (both from different states and different countries) because tuition is the same price for all students.
Unlike many educational models in the UK and Europe, disciplines such as Law and Medicine are not offered at the undergraduate level in America. Students instead complete a general degree in a study area, for example, a Bachelor of Arts or a Bachelor of Science, and then a major in the relevant area.
Costs of undergraduate degrees in America vary wildly between institutions and can be quite high for international students.
In 2019-20, published tuition and fees for full-time out-of-state students at flagship universities range from $12,810 at the University of North Carolina and $13,840 at the University of Notre Dame to $49,970 at the University of Virginia and $51,200 at the University of Michigan
Tuition fees also vary with course, location and programs
Professional programs such as the MBA, JD or MD will however typically be more expensive than a master’s or a PhD program
Vermont has the highest tuition and fees of $40,742 and North Dakota has the lowest tuition & fees of $12,658 over 50 U.S. States and territories for the academic year 2019-2020.
Below is a table to show the Average Published Charges (Enrollment-Weighted) between in-state students and out-of-state students across the different tertiary institutions as well as the level of the tertiary studies.
Cost of education more than just tuition fees
The biggest chunk of college costs is usually tuition – the amount of money required for instruction. Especially at the undergraduate level, students are often required to pay fees; these costs usually need to be paid to enroll in and attend class.
Do also remember that there might be additional mandatory fees beyond the tuition such as service fees, enrollment fees and cost for course materials. You will also need to factor in housing, living and commuting expenses when you apply to any university