Costs you should expect when studying abroad: USA Perspective

Below, Phoebe has generally outlined the costs that a student preparing to study abroad may need to consider. Not all of these costs will be applicable to students studying in different places, but many of the costs are covered in this post. There is also a great example for budgeting trips at the end of this post.

We will be releasing more breakdowns like this over time, but remember that costs may change year to year, so doing your own budgeting research is always important.


Does the country you’re going to require a VISA, a study permit, any other documentation? This might depend on how long you’re going for. VISA costs vary greatly, with the US VISA costing a total of $340 (approx. £256). You might also need a range of supporting documents when you apply such as a valid passport, host university documentation and proof of ability to pay all travel costs. Sometimes the process requires an in-person interview so it’s worth thinking of applying with plenty of time left to get an appointment.


It’s important to think about how you’ll get to and from your host university. If you’re flying, is there an airport nearby or will you require further transportation? Will there be airport shuttles run by the university? Will you need to get an Uber account? It is worth looking for student flight websites where you can access discounts with your student email. It is also important to read terms and conditions and be aware of whether your transport is refundable and under what conditions.


You will have to find your own accommodation when studying abroad although sometimes you will be limited in what you can choose (eg. certain halls and not others). However, these will be outlined to you. When applying to accommodation, it is really important to look at deadlines and make sure you stick to them, you don’t want to be left without a place to live.

Health insurance

You will most likely need health insurance when studying abroad. Keele provide a certain degree of coverage and although this is enough for some places, it might not be for others. Some universities will offer a healthcare plan, however, it is often possible to find cheaper ones. It’s important to read into what is covered by your healthcare plan (eg. pre-existing medical conditions, sports injuries, drinking…) because if you’re not covered and need medical assistance, this can get extremely expensive.

Meal plan

Some accommodations will require you to have a meal plan. It’s important to look into what these include, how much they cost and when they need to be paid for.


This is a difficult one to estimate as its almost impossible to know what you will be doing day to day when you are abroad. However, you can google what there is to do in the area and try and estimate costs from that or you can just set yourself a budget for activities.


One of the best aspects of studying abroad is that you can travel to places you usually wouldn’t get the chance to. This is also difficult to budget for but is worth thinking about how much you want to put aside for this.


Some classes might require you to get textbooks. These can get very expensive however there are ways to reduce the cost. Can you rent them instead of buying them? Can you find online versions? Can you offer to split them with a friend or coursemate? Will you just play the international student card and ask people in you class to lend you the book once a week?…

Household items eg. bedding, toiletries…

Often you won’t be able to bring everything you would like with you when you go abroad and will have to prioritise some things (eg. clothes) over others (eg. toiletries and household items). You will therefore have to factor the cost of buying these when you arrive. During my first week, there was the opportunity for incoming international students to have the items the previous year had left which meant I didn’t have to buy kitchen stuff.

Example budget (USA)

Flights: return Flight from London: £1000 (average)

Visa Fees: SEVIS I-901 Fee: £144 ($180) + Visa Application Processing Fee: £132 ($160)

Accommodation (2019/20 Prices): £4,650/Semester

Health Insurance (2019/20 Prices): £1,350 (Although this was covered by Keele for me)

Food: Meal Plan (All Access 5): £1,500/Semester + Eating Out: (average) £20/week

Activities: £10-40/week

Trips: (price per person; based on travelling in a group of 4 people)

South Carolina/Georgia (3 Nights)New York City (3 Nights)Washington D.C. (3 Nights)
Car Rental — £30Flights — £130Car Rental – £65
Accommodation (Airbnb) — £75Hotel – £180Accommodation (Airbnb) — £100
Food – £75Food – £125Food – £75
Activities – £40Activities – £40Activities – £40
  Total — £220  Total – £475  Total — £280

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