It is true that the US is more expensive than most countries when it comes to higher education. But it’s also one of the top study abroad destinations for international students. If you want to do your Bachelor's or Master's degree in the US, you probably already knew these. But did you also know that there are several affordable four-year universities and accredited Master’s programmes in the USA for international students?
The cheapest universities in the USA for international students (between $3,000 and $20,000 per semester)
One of the things you’ll notice in this list is that these colleges are not all Ivy League universities located in big cities. But this doesn’t mean that they won’t have a high-quality education. In fact, in these cheap US universities, you can get a more intimate learning environment, a strong student community, and a better quality of life thanks to the lower cost of living.
Here are the cheap US universities we recommend to international students:
(Keep in mind that the tuition fee stated here doesn’t include accommodation, books, and living expenses.)
1. Nicholls State University
Located in a small city in Louisiana, Nicholls State University is a public university that has diverse programmes varying from culinary arts to nursing. According to their official website, 1,255 undergraduate students live on campus, which is one of the safest campuses in the whole state.
Location: Thibodaux, LouisianaTuition fees: $4,482.90 based on 15 hours per semester for Bachelor’s, $4,440.36 based on 15 hours per semester for Master’s students
2. Eastern New Mexico University
One of the cheapest 4-year universities in the Southwest US, Eastern New Mexico University has both on-site and distance learning options. Plus, with small class sizes, it provides a more intimate learning environment where students can get to know the lecturers more easily.
Location: Portales, New MexicoTuition fees: $8,568 per year for Bachelor’s, $7,110 per year for Master’s students
3. Brigham Young University
Brigham Young University is a private research university sponsored by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It has campuses in Utah, Hawaii, and Idaho. While most of its students are members of the Church, students with other religious beliefs can also attend BYU.
Location: Provo, Utah; Laie, Hawaii; Rexburg, Idaho
Tuition fees: $6,304 per semester for Bachelor’s, $14,636 per semester for Master’s students in Utah
4. Bridgewater State University
Not far from Boston, the capital of Massachusetts, you will find the peaceful college town of Bridgewater, and Bridgewater State University, a public college with a strong student community. They have 11 residence halls on campus where they host more than 2,000 students.
Location: Bridgewater, Massachusetts
Tuition fees: $7,050 per semester for Bachelor’s, $488.50/per credit per hour for Master’s students
5. Minnesota State University-Moorhead
Minnesota State University-Moorhead welcomes students from 58 countries, offers 213 different majors, and provides online learning opportunities for many courses.
Location: Moorhead, Minnesota
Tuition fees: $8,837 per semester for 12-18 credits
6. Mississippi University for Women
According to the Mississippi University for Women website, students graduate with less debt than graduates in other regional Southern universities. This university is also known as the first public college for women in the United States.
Location: Columbus, Mississippi
Tuition fees: $3,883 per semester for 9-13 credits
7. Southwest Minnesota State University
Focused on liberal arts majors, Southwest Minnesota State University has an active campus life, with student residences, clubs, and organisations. They offer degree programmes in liberal arts and professions.
Location: Marshall, MinnesotaTuition fees: $10,116 per year for Bachelor’s, $9,324 per year for Master’s students
8. Delta State University
Delta State University is in Cleveland, Mississippi which is considered one of the best Southern small towns. Students love living in Cleveland for its rich student community, lively music scene, and great food options. Plus, it’s also an affordable city to live in.
Location: Cleveland, Mississippi
Tuition fees: $4,217 per semester for 12-19 hours
9. Bemidji State University
Located next to the Bemidji Lake and Minnesotan forests, Bemidji State University is the place to be for outdoorsy people who love winter. It offers 70 Bachelor’s and eight Master’s degree programmes as well as distance learning options. If you’re planning to live on campus, this university is known to have a beautiful one.
Location: Bemidji, MinnesotaTuition fees: $10,150 for two semesters
10. Henderson State University
Henderson State University offers scholarships with lower tuition fees for international students based on their GPA. They also have additional financial aid depending on family income.
Location: Arkadelphia, Arkansas
Tuition fees: $7,480 based on 15 hours per semester
11. South Dakota State University
South Dakota State University has 80 majors, 97 minors, and a campus full of activities. Their campus has been ranked the safest in the state for three years in a row. Plus, the small city of Brookings is considered a nice place to live in South Dakota.
Location: Brookings, South DakotaTuition fees: $5,642 based on 15 credits per semester
12. National Louis University
National Louis University offers an annual, renewable scholarship of $7,599 for full-time international students. Their career-focused education system is preferred by over 8,000 students in Illinois and Florida.
Location: Chicago, Illinois; Tampa, Florida
Tuition fees: $19,350 per year, based on 14-18 hours
How to make your US international student experience more affordable
You have found an affordable university, and got a scholarship, but still need more money to study in the United States? Here are some money-saving tips that can help:
Stay in student dorms.
As the cost of living rises worldwide, you might not want to worry about utility bills, groceries, or deposits while living abroad. Student dorms have all-inclusive facilities and are especially popular among first-year students.
Prioritise student towns over big cities.
By studying in small college towns, you will be close to student activities, events, and of course, the campus. In commuter cities which are bigger residential towns, you would most likely need to commute to your classes.
Look for student discounts.
You can find discounted student prices at restaurants, cafes, bars, bookshops, clothing stores, cinemas, and many other places.
Buy used textbooks, furniture, or clothes.
When former students are moving out, they often sell their belongings to new students. This is a win-win situation that could save you so much money.
Apply for a scholarship.
Most of the affordable universities listed here also offer scholarship options for international students, based on merit or need. You can also find over 1,000 scholarships on ScholarshipPortal.
If you have an F1 student visa, you can get a part-time job on campus for fewer than 20 hours per week. Depending on the type of visa, international students can work as tutors, campus ambassadors, baristas, receptionists, and sales assistants.
Don't forget that distance learning is also an option
You can still get a US degree without being in the country, thanks to distance learning. This helps you skip the cost of living abroad and the hustle of getting a student visa while paying lower tuition fees. If this sparks your interest, you can consider checking out some online universities such as Walden University and Kettering University Online to see if they have programmes that fit your needs.
Make sure to do research on Bachelorsportal and Mastersportal to learn more about other cheap universities in the USA for international students. Depending on your field, you might be able to find other affordable on-site or online study options.