Evaluating School Program Costs

August 18th, 2006 by Keith Clausen

International students spend a lot of time and energy trying to find enough financial resources to fund their foreign study. An important part of this effort is understanding exactly how much money you will need for your time overseas, and then carefully managing your finances to stay within your budget. Dealing with a new currency and cost of living add to the challenge, but with a little effort and planning you won’t have to spend your academic experience in a constant state of panic over money.

Evaluating School Program Costs

The first step is to carefully evaluate the cost of your program, and be realistic about your ability to afford a particular school. Many students are amazed at the range of cost for the same basic product — a US post-secondary education. To give you some idea of the range of cost you can expect, here are the 2006/2007 estimated annual international student budgets at 3 schools — Harvard Law School ($59,300), the University of Washington ($38,312), and Western New Mexico University ($14,867):

Harvard Law School

Tuition $ 37,100
Room/Board/Personal $ 16,966
Health & Insurance Fees $ 2,606
Books and Supplies $ 1,050
Travel Allowance $ 1,578
TOTAL BUDGET $ 59,300

University of Washington:

Full-time Tuition & Fees $ 23,113
Health Insurance (required) $ 1,536
Room & Board on Campus $ 9,902
Books & Supplies $ 1,100
Transportation (local) $ 396
Clothing, Entertainment,
Personal Items $ 2,265
Total Annual Expenses $ 38,312

Western New Mexico University (Graduate):

Insurance, Health and Accident $ 500
Tuition and fees $ 7997
On-campus room and board $ 4,370
Textbooks/supplies $ 1,000
Other/personal living expenses $ 1,000
(*not including travel)
TOTAL YEARLY EXPENSES $ 14,867

A 3-year program at Harvard Law School would cost close to $200,000, while a 3-year graduate program at Western New Mexico University would cost less than $50,000. Remember, these estimated budgets, though usually fairly accurate insofar as they go, do not necessarily cover all of your needs, as the personal living expenses are unlikely to capture all of the travel and basic needs you will face. Also, the cost of living is much greater in urban areas like Boston, New York and Los Angeles, and you’ve got to take that into account when evaluating personal needs.

Next topic: Preparing a realistic budget

2 Comments

  1. renuka rane says:

    will you please send low budget universitie in us

    with budget living cost areas for doing my

    ms in pharma

  2. jfrankel says:

    The U.S. Department of Education has recently launched their College Affordability and Transparency Center which allows students to find the low budget universities in the U.S. Keep in mind that this has been designed for US students so pricing may vary for international students, but this is a good place to start!

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