Finances for going to university in America

Finances and fees

Fees are not uniform across universities in America the same way they are in the UK: there is a range of private and public institutions and fees vary hugely. Most universities will publish a “cost of attendance”, which details the total cost of attending that university for a year (including tuition, board, books, etc.) The average cost of attendance in the US is $35,000, but may be as little as $8,000 and as much as $75,000; your research is crucial!

Students studying in the US are not eligible for student loans from Student Finance England, so you will need to finance university yourself, or look into obtaining scholarships.

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Financial aid awards

Some of the top academic universities offer financial aid awards, which are essentially needs-based bursaries for students who cannot afford the full fees. Students and their families are required to submit a comprehensive financial assessment, and the university will consider how much money a student requires. Their goal is to ensure that students accepted into their university do not face financial barriers. Notably, most universities have “needs-aware” application processes, meaning they can see at the point of application to the school if you require money, which may make a difference to your application potential.

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Merit-based scholarships

Many universities in the US offer merit-based scholarships. These may be for exceptional academic, sport, music or drama talent. These may help with small costs, or students may be offered up to their full cost of attendance. Applying for scholarships can be a lengthy and complex procedure, and students are encouraged to seek specialist advice to assess these options.

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On-campus jobs

A final means of financing US university is for students to have term time on-campus jobs. This is commonplace in the US, and universities offer a wide range of student jobs, from café baristas to gym instructors. While it is unlikely students will be able to cover the full cost of attendance on a term time job, it can certainly help towards living costs!


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Information courtesy of Right Track Consultancy, the experts.