Cost of Education in the United States

Cost of Education in the United States

Cost of University Education in the United States

The tuition cost of a university education in the United States varies by institution and related living expenses vary by location. To find out about the cost of living and tuition expenses in the United States, first identify universities you are interested in, then review their websites for accurate and up-to-date information about expenses. You can also request an estimate of annual costs for international students from any U.S. college or university admissions office.

Tuition costs at the graduate level vary by department; however, the College Board publishes undergraduate costs annually:

Scholarship Options

1. Financial Aid Basics

If you think you will need financial aid, start by searching the university’s website. If you don’t find information about financial assistance for international students (usually in the “admissions” section or “international student” section of websites), please contact the admission office directly. Be sure to ask if they have a specific form to apply for assistantships and other aid. Send the required forms along with your application as far in advance of the admission deadline as possible.

Be aware that two-year and vocational programs almost never offer financial aid (though, on the other hand, tuition typically costs substantially less in such programs). At the undergraduate level funds are available on a limited basis. At the Ph.D. level in many fields, receiving some kind of financial help or tuition assistance is common. Institutions can tell you whether or not they have financial aid available to international students as well as the maximum amount they can award.

2. Scholarships

While it doesn’t generally matter at the undergraduate level, at the graduate level your field of study is important in terms of scholarship availability. Some fields such as engineering and sciences that require research and collaborative work with professors are more likely to offer aid opportunities (most commonly assistantships supporting faculty in their teaching or research).

In order to receive assistantships or other scholarships based on merit, you will need to demonstrate strong proficiency in both spoken and written English. In addition, having a good GPA (grade point average or moadel) is important. If you have conducted research in an area related to faculty projects or have relevant work experience, it will be to your advantage to note this in your application. In your statement of purpose, make sure to discuss achievements and academic strengths in greater depth. Every year, schools have limited funding, so those who get their applications in well before the application deadline will have the best chances of receiving aid.

To summarize:

  1.  Locate universities that have your area of research. 
  2. Make a positive connection with professors in the department where you hope to study.
  3. Apply well before the deadline.

For more general information on finding scholarships for U.S. study, visit: Be sure to also contact any universities that interest you directly, as not all scholarships are publicized.

Additional resources:
EducationUSA international undergraduate and graduate search databases:

For undergraduates, here is a list of university programs awarding the most aid to international undergraduates

3. Athletic Scholarships

Undergraduate students who are athletically talented may qualify for athletic scholarships at U.S. institutions. If you think you may qualify, you’ll want to contact the coach of your sport as well as the admissions office. Typically you’ll be asked by the coach to submit such materials as an athletic resume, a recommendation letter from your coach in Iran, a video with highlights of your performance, copies of your athletic awards (translated into English), and any relevant performance statistics.

Students applying for athletic scholarships still need to complete the regular admissions process in addition to providing everything needed for consideration by the athletics programs. As always, be sure to send your translated documents and test scores well before the admission deadline.

For more details and tips on finding athletic scholarships, visit

Working in the United States

International students are generally not allowed to work during their first academic year; however, some work/study programs are offered that will allow you to work on campus. Examples of such opportunities would be working at the campus library or a university office, or  as a research assistant to a professor. Under visa regulations, you’ll be allowed no more than 20 hours of work per week while attending classes. Some universities may offer paid internship programs or assist international students in finding such programs; however, unless these programs are a required part of your academic program, you can again only take part after your first academic year of study. 

International student advisers will be able to provide you with information on work options and campus resources to help you find work. Always talk with the adviser before accepting any employment opportunity as regulations can be complex and obeying them is important for remaining in good visa status.

EducationUSA Iran receives a number of questions regarding whether students can stay and work in the United States permanently after graduation. The answer is no. While you may be able to participate in a limited period of “optional practical training” working in your field after graduation, student visas will only be awarded to individuals who are planning to return home after their study. If your intention is to move permanently to the United States, you will need to apply for an immigrant visa. A good source for information on immigrant visas is


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