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How Expensive is Studying in America? An Overview of the Costs

If you want to study in America, it's obviously useful to know how much it's going to cost. The short answer is: It depends. There's a big difference in costs between universities. In this article, I'll delve deeper and give you an overview of everything you need to consider.

Written by

Lars Blenckers

For many young people, it's a dream to study in America, but when you look at the costs on an American university's website, it's quite a shock. You may have seen amounts up to $85,000 per year.

Harvard University: How expensive is studying in the USA?
Harvard University

But what's the real story? 

Not many people can just pay that much to study, yet many internationals go to study in America every year. How?

Keep reading, because today you'll learn everything about:

  • How the costs of an American university are structured 
  • How scholarships can help cover the costs
  • Alternative options like Junior College 
  • How you can use student loan programs in America 
  • How you can earn extra money during this adventure

An Overview of the Costs at an American University

The costs vary greatly depending on the university. You have to deal with the difference between 'public' and 'private' schools, but also what is included.

The total cost to study and live at an American university is called the 'cost of attendance.' The following costs are included in the cost of attendance:

  • Tuition and Fees
  • Housing
  • Meal Plans
  • Books
  • Insurances

In the following table, I've made a comparison between a 'private' school, Syracuse University, and a 'public' school, Ohio State University.

Overview Cost of Attendance USA Universities

Yes, that's quite a shock. According to this table, it costs almost $85,000 to study at Syracuse and $57,000 for Ohio State. 

Note: This is PER YEAR.

So is it really that expensive?

No, not really. There are actually very few people who really pay that much. Most students and athletes who go to study in America receive a scholarship.

How Can Scholarships Cover My Costs?

Since we guide athletes who want to play sports and study in America, we usually work with two types of scholarships: Sports and academic scholarships.

Sport Scholarships

To be able to play sports and study in America, you need to have talent in your sport. Whether it's soccer or hockey. Coaches want to add talented international players to their team and offer a sports scholarship for it. 

These sports scholarships are usually expressed in percentages, between 0 and 100%.

For example, if a coach gives you a 70% scholarship, the costs for Ohio State University would now be about $16,000 per year. 

Still expensive, but often, a sports scholarship can be combined with an academic scholarship.

Academic Scholarships

Universities in America reward students with high grades or test scores. It varies by university, but if you have good grades, you often qualify for an academic scholarship. 

This scholarship is added on top of the already awarded sports scholarship. The academic scholarship is often expressed in hard dollars. 

For example, if you have an average GPA of 3.0, and the university offers you a $7,000 scholarship for it, you would now 'only' pay $9,000 per year to study at Ohio State University.

How Do I Know Which Scholarship I Can Get?

This is a good question. And to be honest, the easiest way to find out is to just schedule a conversation with us for a free evaluation.

In a conversation, we can then explain exactly your possibilities.

players on a soccer scholarship
Creighton University Men's Soccer

Alternative Options

In the example above, I assumed for convenience a NCAA Division 1 university. However, there are many other universities at other sports levels, where the costs are lower.

Junior College

A commonly used option is a Junior College. A Junior College is a school where you follow a 2-year associate's program.

After those 2 years, you can then transfer to a 'university'. Studying at a Junior College is much cheaper than at a 'normal' university. 

The total costs without a sports or academic scholarship are often around $15,000 per year.  This also includes housing and all other costs.

Note: For field hockey, a Junior College is not possible, as there are no hockey teams at these colleges.

Can I Use Student Loans In America?

Short answer: Yes, you can.

However, as an international, you need to contact your government to learn about student loan programs to study abroad.

For example, I was able to use a program called DUO in the Netherlands. They will just check if the school and study program are acknowledged by the government, which it is in most cases. 

For Americans, you can use programs like FAFSA and other student loan programs.

You can read more about it here.

Can I Work in America?

Many students ask if they can work in America as a student to earn some extra money. This is possible. However, you may not work outside the campus of the school in your first year. 

This means that you can take a job in the library, or in the gym of the university, but not in the local supermarket. 

Keep in mind that you are going to America on an F1 student visa, and you are therefore a student in the country. There are strict rules about working on this visa.
More information about that here.

Other Options to Work During My Studies in America

What many students forget is that the academic year in America is shorter than in your home country. In America, you have a month's 'vacation' in the winter, and almost 3 months in the summer. 

This means that you are home for about 4 months a year. Plenty of time to earn some money with a job at home. This was personally a good way for me to build up a buffer for when I was in America.

student-athletes working jobs on campus
It's common for students to work at sports games


I hope you now have a good overview of how expensive it is to study in America. On paper, it's extremely expensive. 

However, with the help of scholarships, student loan programs, and part-time jobs, many athletes and students can still make this dream come true.

Plus31 Sports

If you now want to know whether you qualify to play sports and study in America. Or you want to know which scholarships are possible for you. 

Just leave your details below so I (or Christoph) can contact you to discuss everything in detail.

Hope to speak soon!

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