Cost of Living in USA for Indian Students

Cost of Living in USA for Indian Students

Cost of Living in USA for Indian Students
Sahil Dahal

Studying in the United States can be an exciting yet daunting prospect, especially for Indian students. Apart from the academic considerations, one crucial factor that needs careful evaluation is the cost of living. Understanding and preparing for the expenses that await can help students budget effectively and make their study abroad experience more manageable. 

In this article, we will delve into the specifics of the cost of living in the USA for Indian students, providing insights, tips, and essential information to help students plan their finances.

Best Places to study in the USA

Here is a breakdown of the major components that contribute to the cost of living for Indian students in the USA:

Accommodation Costs

Finding suitable accommodation is often a top priority for international students. Whether you live on-campus or off-campus, accommodation costs will consume a significant portion of your budget. On-campus housing options can range from dormitories to shared apartments, and the prices will vary accordingly. Off-campus options, such as renting an apartment or sharing a house, may offer more flexibility but can also come with additional responsibilities and costs.

Tuition and Fees

Tuition and fees are a primary consideration for Indian students planning to study in the USA. The costs will vary depending on the institution, program of study, and whether you are attending a public or private university. It's essential to research and understand the total expenses, including tuition, fees, and any additional charges specific to your chosen field of study.

Financing Your American Education

Health Insurance

Health insurance is an essential aspect of studying in the USA. Most universities require international students to have health insurance coverage through their institution or by purchasing a plan independently. The cost depends on various factors, including the coverage provided, the duration of the plan, and the state where you will be studying.

Transportation Expenses

Transportation costs can vary significantly depending on the location and your personal preferences. Cities with extensive public transportation systems may offer affordable options for commuting between your accommodation and the university. However, if public transportation is limited, consider the cost of owning a car or using ride-sharing services. It's important to factor in these expenses when estimating your overall cost of living.

Food and Groceries

Food expenses are a regular part of any budget, and it's essential to plan accordingly. While eating out can be tempting, cooking meals at home can significantly reduce costs. Additionally, buying groceries and choosing cheaper yet nutritious options can help stretch your budget further. Consider shopping at local grocery stores or farmers' markets for better deals.

Personal Expenses and Entertainment

Personal expenses and entertainment costs vary from person to person, depending on individual preferences and lifestyle choices. This includes expenses for clothing, unique care products, entertainment activities, hobbies, and social outings. It's essential to allocate a portion of your budget for these expenses to ensure a balanced and enjoyable student life.

Expense Name

Average Yearly/Monthly Cost

Books and Material

$900 - $2,000 per year


$300 - $700 per year


$9,800 - $11,100 per year


$100 - $150 per month


Off-Campus: $400 - $600 per month

On-Campus: $250 per month

Phone Subscription

$50 per month

Home Internet

$45 - $50 per month

Health Insurance

$700 - $1,100 per year


$500 per year

Water, Sewer, and Trash

$50 - $75 per month

Application Process for USA

Ways to Earn Money as an International Student in the USA

As an international student in the USA, finding ways to earn money can help alleviate some financial burdens and enhance your overall experience. While specific restrictions and guidelines exist, several opportunities are available to supplement your income.

Here are some ways you can earn money as an international student in the USA:

On-Campus Employment

One of the most accessible options for international students is to seek employment opportunities on campus. Many universities offer various positions, such as working at the library, administrative offices, dining services, or campus events. These positions often provide flexible schedules that can accommodate your academic commitments. Check your university's career centre or student employment office for opportunities.

Optional Practical Training (OPT)

Optional Practical Training (OPT) is a program that allows international students to work off-campus in their field of study. OPT provides an opportunity to gain practical work experience related to your academic program. You can apply for pre-completion OPT, which allows you to work part-time during the academic year, or post-completion OPT, which will enable you to work full-time after completing your studies. It's essential to consult with your university's international student services office for guidance on the application process and eligibility criteria.

Curricular Practical Training (CPT)

Curricular Practical Training (CPT) is another employment option available to international students in the USA. CPT allows you to work off-campus as part of your academic curriculum. It is typically used for internships or cooperative education programs that provide hands-on experience in your field of study. Similar to OPT, consulting with your university's international student services office for guidance on CPT eligibility and application procedures is crucial.

Part-Time Jobs

While regulations limit the number of hours international students can work during the academic year; you can explore part-time job opportunities off-campus. Retail, hospitality, tutoring, and food service industries often hire students for part-time positions. Look for job postings on university bulletin boards, online job portals, or local community boards. Ensure you comply with the restrictions on the hours you can work while studying.

Freelancing or Remote Work

With the rise of the gig economy and remote work opportunities, freelancing can be a viable option for international students. You can offer graphic design, writing, programming, language tutoring, or social media management services, depending on your skills and expertise. Online platforms and freelance marketplaces provide many opportunities to connect with clients and earn income while maintaining flexibility.

Scholarships, Grants, and Fellowships

Exploring scholarship, grant, and fellowship opportunities can provide financial support while enhancing your academic profile. Many organisations and institutions offer funding specifically for international students. Research and apply for scholarships in your field of study and those that promote cultural exchange and international education. These opportunities help alleviate financial burdens and allow you to focus on your studies.

It's essential to note that regulations and restrictions may vary for each employment opportunity. Always consult with your university's international student services office or designated school official to ensure compliance with immigration regulations and guidelines. Balancing work and academics is crucial, so be mindful of your responsibilities and prioritise your studies.


Estimated Monthly Rent




$900 - $1,200

$200 - $300

$100 - $150


$800 - $1,100

$150 - $250

$100 - $150


$900 - $1,200

$200 - $300

$100 - $150


$700 - $1,000

$150 - $250

$100 - $150


$900 - $1,200

$200 - $300

$100 - $150


$900 - $1,200

$200 - $300

$100 - $150


$800 - $1,100

$150 - $250

$100 - $150


$700 - $1,000

$150 - $250

$100 - $150

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What is the average accommodation cost for Indian students in the USA?

The average accommodation cost for Indian students in the USA can vary depending on the city and the type of housing chosen. On-campus housing options can range from $500 to $1,500 per month, while off-campus rentals can range from $800 to $2,500. Sharing accommodation with roommates can help reduce costs.

How much should I budget for tuition and fees?

The cost of tuition and fees can vary significantly depending on the university and the program of study. On average, undergraduate programs can range from $15,000 to $40,000 annually, while graduate programs can range from $20,000 to $50,000 annually. Researching and understanding the specific costs associated with your chosen institution and program is essential.

Do I need to purchase health insurance as an international student in the USA?

Yes, most universities require international students to have health insurance coverage. The cost of health insurance can vary depending on the range provided and the state where you will be studying. It's essential to research and understand your insurance options and budget accordingly.

How can I save money on transportation expenses?

To save money on transportation expenses, consider using public transportation whenever possible. Many cities in the USA offer student discounts on public transit passes. Additionally, walking or biking can be cost-effective options for short distances. Consider carpooling or sharing the expenses with friends if you need a car.

How can I manage my personal expenses and entertainment costs effectively?

To manage personal expenses and entertainment costs effectively, it's essential to create a budget and track your expenses. Prioritise your spending and look for free or low-cost entertainment options like community events, student clubs, and campus activities. Consider joining student discount programs and using coupons or promotional offers.

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