July 9, 2024
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Living Expenses in the USA for Indian Students

Embarking on an educational journey to the USA is an exciting adventure. However, it is crucial to have a clear understanding of the living expenses you will encounter as an Indian student. This guide will help you navigate the cost of living in the USA, ensuring you can plan and budget effectively for your time abroad.

Fluttering US Flag in brightness
Fluttering US Flag

Visa Cost

International students are granted the F-1 Study Visa for full-time courses at universities accredited by the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) in the USA. To pursue studies in the USA, students must secure an F1 Student Visa. Visa fees range approximately from $185 to $800 (INR 15,443.8 to INR 66,784)*, varying by country of origin. It's important to verify current visa fees as they may be subject to change (Y-Axis). Plan ahead and apply for your USA student visa at least four months prior to your intended departure date.

Tuition Fees

Tuition fees in the USA vary significantly depending on the type of institution you choose. Public universities generally offer more affordable rates compared to private institutions. However, even within public universities, fees can differ based on whether the institution is state-funded or not. 

According to data collected by U.S. News & World Report, the average cost of tuition and fees for the 2023-2024 school year is $42,162 (INR 35,19,683.76)* at private colleges, $23,630 (INR 19,72,632)* for out-of-state students at public universities. It's essential to research and compare different institutions to find one that fits your budget and academic goals.

As per The Times of India dated 5th March 2024, some of the most affordable cities in US for students are as follow:

City Information
City Average Tuition Fees annually Average Monthly Expenses
San Diego INR 12,23,740 INR 1.2 lakh to INR 2 lakh
Baltimore INR 17,00,543 INR 85,000 to INR 1.5 lakh
Atlanta INR 21,43,474 INR 95,000 to INR 1.7 lakh
Philadelphia INR 23,64,940 INR 60,000 to INR 1 lakh
Houston INR 23,57,000 INR 80,000 to INR 1.5 lakh

The above can be summarised in following bar graph:

Bar graph of the most affordable cities in US

Accommodation Costs

Accommodation is one of the most significant expenses for international students in the USA. Your choice of living arrangements will greatly impact your budget. University dormitories are a popular option, especially for first-year students, as they offer convenience and a built-in community. Dormitory costs can range from $1,100 to $9,800 (INR 91,828 to INR 8,18,104)* per academic year. Navigating to US,  learn more about US Dollar notes in this blog.

Alternatively, you might choose to rent a private apartment. Rental costs vary widely depending on the city and neighbourhood. In general, urban areas and cities on the East and West Coasts tend to have higher rental prices. A one-bedroom apartment in a city like New York or San Francisco can cost upwards of $3,500 (INR 2,92,180)* per month, while in more affordable cities like Houston or Atlanta, you might find options for around $1,000 (INR 83,480)* per month (Versus, 2024).

Morning Breakfast cost in USA might be high

Food and Dining

Food expenses are another significant aspect of living expenses in the USA. If you opt for a university meal plan, expect to pay between $3,000 (INR 2,50,440)* and $5,500 (INR 4,59,140)* per academic year (KC Overseas,2023). Meal plans offer convenience but may limit your dining options.

If you prefer to cook your meals, grocery expenses can range from $400 to $600 (INR 33,392 to INR 50,088)* per month, depending on your eating habits and location (KC Overseas, 2023)

Miscellaneous Expenses

Living in the USA also involves miscellaneous expenses such as textbooks, study materials, clothing, personal care items, and entertainment. Rates of such are given as below as per KC Overseas, 2023:

  • Textbooks and study materials can cost between $900 and $2,000 (INR 75,132 & INR 1,66,960)* per academic year.
  • Personal care items and clothing will depend on your preferences and needs, but budgeting around $500 to $700 (INR 41,740 to INR 58,436)* per year for these expenses is reasonable.
  • Entertainment and social activities are an important part of the student experience. Whether it's going to the movies, dining out, or exploring local attractions, it's essential to allocate some funds for leisure activities. On average, students spend about $100 to $200 (INR 8348 to INR 16696)* per month on entertainment.
  • On average, utilities can cost between $100 and $150 (INR 8348 and INR 12,522)* per month. 
  • Additionally, internet services with a mobile plan will add another $95 to $100 (INR 7,930 to INR 8,348)* per month to your expenses.
Breakdown of Living Expenses

Tips for Managing Your Budget

Managing your finances effectively is crucial to ensuring a comfortable and stress-free stay in the USA. Here are some tips to help you manage your budget:

1. Create a Detailed Budget:

Outline all your expected expenses, including tuition, accommodation, food, transportation, and miscellaneous costs. Having a clear budget will help you track your spending and avoid overspending. In all financial planning, don't forget to pack your essentials.  

2. Use Student Discounts:

Take advantage of student discounts available at many stores, restaurants, and entertainment venues. Always carry your student ID to benefit from these offers.

3. Cook at Home:

Preparing your meals at home is generally more cost-effective than dining out. It also allows you to eat healthier and save money in the long run.

4. Share Accommodation:

Sharing an apartment with roommates can significantly reduce your accommodation costs. Look for shared housing options to split rent and utility expenses.

5. Track Your Expenses:

Keep a record of your monthly expenses to identify areas where you can cut costs. There are various budgeting apps available that can help you manage your finances efficiently. Click here to learn 10 tips to save money while pursuing education in the USA.

6. Plan for Emergencies:

Set aside some funds for unexpected expenses or emergencies. Having a financial cushion will give you peace of mind and help you handle unforeseen situations.

Scenery of beautiful Mahattan city
Manhattan City View


Living in the USA as an Indian student involves various expenses, from tuition fees to daily living costs. Understanding these expenses and planning your budget accordingly will help you manage your finances effectively and enjoy your time abroad. Remember to choose reliable methods for transferring money from India and always prioritise authorised foreign exchange providers for secure and hassle-free transactions. By following these guidelines, you can ensure a smooth and financially stable experience while studying ins an RBI-authorised foreign exchange provider, we offer secure and cost-effective money transfer services tailored to meet your needs. Our competitive exchange rates and transparent fees ensure that you get the best value for your money. Contact us today to learn more about our services and how we can help you with your international money transfers.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q. How can I stay connected with family and friends back in India without incurring high communication costs?

A. Use internet-based communication apps like WhatsApp, Skype, or Zoom to make international calls and video chats. These apps are usually free or offer lower rates compared to traditional phone services.

Q. Are there cultural clubs or student organisations that offer support for international students?

A. Yes, most universities have cultural clubs and support services dedicated to international students. These organisations provide valuable resources, social events, and peer support. Please be vary of such organisations and submit any document with caution.

Q.Can I find part-time work to help cover my living expenses in the USA?

A. Yes, many international students work part-time on campus to supplement their finances. However, it's essential to check your visa restrictions and university guidelines regarding employment.

Remark*: The rate conversion is on the basis of 1USD = 83.48 as per on 5th July, 09:03 pm UTC by Google Finance.


  • Times of India


  • Y-Axis


  • Versus


  • Studies Overseas


  • US News



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