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The College Board revealed a “moderate” college budget averaged $23,410 for an in-state public college and averaged $46,272 for a private college for the academic year of 2014-15.     U.S. has the second highest cost for college education in the world, right behind Australia as of October 2015.

What makes up the cost of a college education?   According to, the answer consists of:

(1) Tuition: It is the monetary cost that you pay for college education.   In the U.S., graduate courses are usually charged by each course’s credit number.   If a credit costs $300, you will have to spend $900 for a 3-credit graduate course.
The (BLOCK) tuition for undergraduate courses is often determined by the total credits for a full-time student.    For example, in most semester base colleges or universities,  a full-time undergraduate student means he or she takes 12-18 credits a term.    As long as an undergraduate student takes 12-18 credits in a semester, the basic block tuition is the same no matter he or she takes 12 or 18 credits.   If your total credits are below 12, you will be charged by the total number of credits you take just like a graduate student.    If you take more than 18 credits a semester, you will pay the block tuition plus the tuition beyond 18 credits which is charged by the number of credits.

(2) Fees: For school lab, facilities, technology equipment, library and many others related your college studies.

In the 2014-15 academic year, the average tuition and fee was $31,231 at a private school, and $22,958 at a public school for an international student.

(3) Housing and Meals (or Room & Board): The costs for your living on-campus or off-campus vary depending on where you live.  For 2014-15, it could range from $9,804 at a public 4-year college to $11,188 at a private college. For further details on housing and meals in the U.S., please click here.

(4) Books and School Supplies: The estimated cost for this is $1,200 for an undergraduate student at a public 4-year college, as of October 2015.

(5) Personal and Transportation Expenses: The estimated cost may be or may be not shown on your admission document (or so-called I-20 form).  Some school shows this estimated figure on the I-20 form but you don’t pay this cost to your school.    In 2014-15, this cost ranges from $2,609 at a private school to $3,242 at a public school.

What’s not mentioned in’s article is the expenditure for a student’s common needs such as social activities, mobile services, professional counseling for mental health, or other health related issues which are not covered by student insurance.

Related reading: Tips on Saving More.