Cheap Colleges: A Guide for International Students

College 3

Doc Seidman Says….

….In the United States, no two colleges are the same. The amount you will pay (tuition) will vary from college to college. If you are trying to study in the United States on a limited budget, the college you choose to attend will be your most important decision. You would want to go to a college with a good reputation yet not have to spend too much money.

The reputation of the college is very important in the United States. The school you graduate from will go on your resume and be part of your permanent record. As you may know, there are “elite” or top colleges in the U.S. (Harvard, Yale, Stanford, Cornell, for example) but not everyone can get into them or afford to go. They can also be very expensive. You would then want to find a good college that good reputation in the area you want to study.

According to the U.S. News and World Report, these are the least expensive U.S. colleges:

 

NAME OF COLLEGE STATE TUITION AND FEES (in US $)
Brigham Young University Utah $5,460
Arkansas Baptist College Arkansas $8,760
Tougaloo College Mississippi $10,600
Jarvis Christian College Texas $11,720
Blue Mountain College Mississippi $11,760
Alice Lloyd College Kentucky $12,050
William Carey University Mississippi $12,300
Park University Missouri $12,470
Amridge University Alabama $12,630
Bethune-Cookman University Florida $14,410

 

The most expensive colleges are:

NAME OF COLLEGE STATE TUITION AND FEES (in US $)
Columbia University New York $57,208
Vassar College New York $55,210
Harvey Mudd College California $54,886
University of Chicago Illinois $54,825
Trinity College Connecticut $54,770
Franklin and Marshall College Pennsylvania $54,380
Tufts University Massachusetts $54,318
Amherst College Massachusetts $54,310
University of Southern California California $54,259
Sarah Lawrence College New York $54,010

 

Now that you have a low and high dollar amount for the cost of college in the United States, you can better understand how much money you will need. If your college choice or choices is/are not on the list, you can see whether the tuition they charge is on the lower or higher side. As many international students know, they will not have the same benefits that an American student will have. This includes:

  • Student Loans- money the U.S. government lends students at a reduced interest rate
  • Grants- money the government provides students to attend school. Grant money is a gift and not a loan. It does not need to be paid back. Grant money is often need based.
  • Scholarships- money for college provided to students by companies or organizations. Students must apply to receive scholarship money. It, too, does not need to be paid back. Most, but not all scholarships are merit based.

Keep in mind that there are many costs in going to college. The amounts given here are for tuition and various application fees. They do not include other important costs such as: rent, food, book, transportation, and spending money. You would want to make sure you factor in these amounts before you decided to study in the United States.

As you probably know, as an international student, you are not able to work in the United States, unless it is for employment designated by the school. That means you will most likely not be able find a job to help you pay for things. Plan accordingly. Finding a lower cost college in a lower cost part of the country can certainly help.

Finally, remember, as part of your F1 Visa interview, you will need to show that you have the financial ability to go to college in the United States. Going to a lower cost school can certainly help, however, it may not be the answer.

Cheap Places: A Guide for International Students

States

Doc Seidman Says…

….Going to college In the United States can be very expensive. 

College tuition is expensive for those coming to study and live from another country. The costs of attending the school (tuition) and the related living expenses can be very high.  Some people are lucky, they may have the money to go to college wherever they please.  For most people, however, going to an American college will cost all the money they have saved. They need to save money any way possible while still getting a good, American college education.

There are many ways to spend less money. One way is to attend college in a region of the country where it does not cost a lot of money to live, eat, and play. Where you go to school in the United States is an important consideration for those who do not have the money to go wherever they choose. In this case, it might be best to first identify part of the country that would be affordable and then look for college in that area. This can save international students a lot of money.

U.S. states that cost the most money to live. (CNBC)

For those that don’t have a lot of money, these may be states to avoid:

  • Alaska
  • California
  • Connecticut
  • Hawaii
  • Maryland
  • Massachusetts
  • New Jersey
  • New York
  • Rhode Island
  • Vermont

The cheapest, or least expensive states to live (USA Today)

  • Alabama
  • Arkansas
  • Indiana
  • Iowa
  • Kansas
  • Kentucky
  • Mississippi
  • Nebraska
  • Oklahoma
  • Tennessee

Every state is different

Laws can be different in every state. This is why it will cost more money to live in some places and not others. This includes the cost of real estate (homes/apartments), food, gasoline, and other living supplies. Taxes also vary from state to state. Some states have high taxes and some states have few or no taxes. You might want to live in an exciting city such as San Francisco, New York, Los Angeles, or Boston, but they can be expensive places to live and study.

A city can be expensive

Some states may not be on the expensive list, however, a city in that state might be. For example, the state of Florida is not one of the most expensive states to live in, however, the city of Miami, is one of the most expensive cities to live in. If you find a school in a big city, check to make sure you can afford to live there.

What you can do?

Make a list of the colleges in the less expensive states that might interest you. Visit the college website. Look to see if they have the subject you want to study. Write down their tuition. Understand that some schools might have more than one price. These schools are subsidized (helped) with taxes paid by residents and will cost less money for someone who lives in the state to go to school there. As an international student, you will not have that benefit and in most cases, will have to pay the more expensive, out of state tuition. Some schools may help you with a grant or scholarship, but that does not always happen.

Study the population

Another good idea is to study the demographics (population) of the college. For example, if you are coming from India, you may feel comfortable knowing your school has other students from India. In the United States, some parts of the country are friendlier to international populations than others, so it is important to see that your college has students from your country.

Finally, the F1 Visa

Understanding the city or region and the related costs population of the local college is a good start. Additionally, all international students need to have an F1 Visa which allows them to study in the U.S.. One of the requirements to obtain the Visa is showing that students have the money and resources to study in the United States.  Living in an inexpensive area may not be the answer, but it can be helpful.

Congratulations Graduate!

Mortorboard

Doc Seidman Says……

…….For college seniors, the month of May is something many have been waiting for.  The cold, blustery months of winter turn into the refreshing warmth of spring (except here in Florida), and college students throughout the country prepare to graduate. Graduation, or commencement, as it is called in academia, is an extraordinarily joyful time for students. And why not? They just spent the last four or so years sitting through tedious lectures, pretending to laugh at the professor’s boring jokes, and doing arduous class assignments. The thrill of walking across the commencement stage and throwing a mortarboard into the air in celebration is almost second to none. As a faculty member sitting in the audience, or as an administrator sitting on the stage, I, too was joyful and proud.

Some students learn the hard way that walking across the stage and celebrating with friends and family does not necessarily mean they have graduated. It simply means they have participated in the ceremony. The diploma comes sometime later, after the college has done its due diligence to make sure the graduation requirements have been fulfilled. It’s quite possible that there are students dressed in cap and gown, joyfully celebrating with their friends, who have yet to pass Statistics, or French, or Organic Chemistry, or Food Safety and Sanitation, or any other degree requirement. Don’t get too excited. It’s back to the classroom for you.

But for most everyone else, however, it is indeed a terrific accomplishment and a joyful time. It is something that will be with you forever and nobody can take away.

Unfortunately, many folks who start college don’t finish. In fact, recent statistics have shown that only 55% of four-year college students complete their degree within six years. At least 40% never graduate at all. If you are a student classified as a demographic minority, the chances of completing your college degree are even lower. Only thirty eight percent of African American students (46% of women and 35% of men) will complete their degree. Hispanic students do a bit better with a 46% completion rate. As a comparison, 62% of white students complete their degrees in six-years while Asian students perform the best with a 63% completion rate.

Are you the first in your family to go to college? Congratulations! But sadly, around half of you won’t finish. Do you come from a lower income family? Although government resources help, not having all the money you need is a significant hindrance as only 43% of you will graduate. Were you raised in a foster family? Your completion rate trails the entire field at only 14%.

There are many reasons for this. Money is perhaps the biggest one. Many underfunded students soon learn that they don’t have the resources to complete a four-year degree without an unwanted overwhelming debt burden. Many students get full and part time jobs while in college, but having multiple part-time jobs, or even just one full-time job, can be detrimental. The workplace culture soon supersedes the academic culture and next thing you know, classes are skipped, assignments are missed, and academic woes just pile on.

Since we are discussing money, not surprisingly, students attending private colleges have a better completion rate than their public-school counterparts (66% to 59%). Private schools, with a higher tuition and reduced class size, tend to be more nurturing. The professor may reach out to the students who seem to be fading away. Support services are more attentive too. The lines should be shorter to talk to whichever student support specialist is needed. It may not seem like much, but it helps.

The “For Profit” schools probably do more harm than good. For those of you, or someone you know, who is enticed by one of these heavily advertised universities, note that if you enroll, less than one in four of you will actually complete. They can also be expensive. Most “For Profits” make it easy to enroll and even easier borrow money. Whether or not you complete your degree, if you borrow money to  go there, or any other college, you need to pay it back. And if you fail to graduate and have a lot of debt….ouch! Not good.

Sorry to ruin the upcoming graduation party, but college can certainly be a case of “let the buyer beware.”  Whereas we would all like to think that attending college is certainly different than buying a used car, in many ways it is not. The buyer’s euphoria to find a good deal on a car might mask the deficiencies the used vehicle may have. It car might start out smoothly, but it is highly possible that as the years go on the flaws show themselves. And if you don’t thoroughly “check under the hood” before you buy it, the problems might arise more quickly.

Future college students and their families really need to “check under the hood” of the colleges they are considering attending. Check the graduation and retention rates. Investigate the advising systems in place. Kick the tires too while you are at it. Visit the campus. Talk to administrators and faculty. Make sure your future student will be well positioned to succeed and graduate. And perhaps most important, take a realistic view of the amount of debt that will be incurred. The truth may hurt, but a smart decision beforehand should help to prevent the pain of debt without graduation.

To the 50% or so that our truly graduating, all the best. Congratulations on your accomplishment. It’s a good one. Hopefully, the college taught you how to make smart decisions. Something that will serve you well in the years to come.