The cost of being a student around the world
Studying somewhere different from where you grew up allows you to explore and gain independence while calling a new city your home.
While being a student can save you money through benefits like education coupon codes, most know that the cost of living expenses, rent, and tuition fees can accumulate fast.
Although food discount codes can help you save money on weekly groceries, the price of being a student still adds up fast.
With the cost of being a student higher now than ever before, many base their choice of college on how expensive it will be to attend. But where are the cheapest places to study?
We’ve compiled a list of all 50 states in the United States and ranked them based on student costs to find the most expensive and most affordable places to be a student.
We’ve also looked at some of the most popular countries for students, ranking them based on average living costs, accommodation, tuition, and transportation.
The Cheapest Countries to Be a Student
1. Turkey | Student cost score: 9.20/10
Turkey is known worldwide for its natural landscapes, multicultural society, and quality of education. With one of the highest enrollment rates in higher education institutions, Turkey has one of the highest access to education rates in the world.
Turkish colleges are also recognized for their low tuition fees – while not all bachelor’s degrees at public institutions are free of charge for home students, many are.
Turkey also has the cheapest estimated annual living expenses out of all the countries on our list, at an estimated $5,838 per year.
With one of the lowest average prices for a monthly transportation pass, at just $30.14, and the cheapest average accommodation cost of all countries we looked at, Turkey is the cheapest place for students at college.
2. Poland | Student cost score: 8.24/10
Poland is one of the most popular countries to study in, with renowned public colleges, a low cost of living, and endless areas of natural beauty.
Out of all the countries on our list, Poland is one of the cheapest countries to be a student. Higher education in Poland is free for all home students, accelerating access to education.
Annual bachelor’s degree tuition fees for international students usually start at around $2,362, which is much cheaper than most colleges in the States.
Poland also has one of the cheapest college dorm costs of all the countries on our list, at up to $167 per month for a private room.
Known for its low cost of living, the estimated annual expenses of a single person in Poland amount to $10,231, and a public transport pass costs around $54.13 per semester, or $9.30 a month.
3. Mexico | Student cost score: 7.60/10
Widely considered one of the most affordable countries to study in, Mexico is perfect for people wanting to experience the rich culture, amazing cuisine, and gorgeous weather.
Mexico is also incredibly linguistically diverse, with 68 languages spoken with one of the world’s highest counts of indigenous languages.
With tuition fees for home students standing at no more than $252, rising to $360 for international students, the financial barrier for entry is very palatable for many, especially compared to costs in the States.
Accommodation and monthly travel fees stand at $435 for the former and $22.33 for the latter, respectively, which is a little more expensive than the others featured here.
However, the average annual living cost amounts to $8,564 and makes it one of the lowest in this ranking.
The Most Expensive Countries to Be a Student
1. United States | Student cost score: 0.88/10
In the first place, the most expensive country to be a student in is the United States. With a reputation for expensive tuition fees, a high cost of living, and pricey rent, it’s no surprise that the US is the most expensive place to study.
The average tuition cost for home students at public institutions in the US is around $11,064 per year, although many private colleges charge much more than this.
The US is the most expensive country on our list for international students, with tuition fees starting at around $26,304.
The United States has one of the most expensive average dorm costs out of all countries we looked at, with a private room costing up to $2,100 per month.
Students living alone in the US are estimated to spend $29,351 per year on living expenses, one of the most expensive countries we looked at for cost of living.
2. England | Student cost score: 1.20/10
Known for the academic excellence of institutions like Oxford and Cambridge, England is one of the most popular countries to study abroad. However, England is also one of the most expensive places for students globally.
For home students, the cost of a bachelor’s study per year is around $12,185, which is the most expensive home student tuition fee out of all countries on our list.
Similarly, tuition fees start at $17,000 per year for international students, although many courses and colleges charge higher fees.
One of the most expensive places to live, the estimated annual spending of a single person in the United Kingdom amounts to around $21,700.
3. New Zealand | Student cost score: 1.68/10
New Zealand has a lot to offer for students, with stunning natural scenery, unmatched wildlife, and excellent quality of life. Despite its benefits, New Zealand is one of the most expensive countries to be a student, according to the criteria we looked at.
For home students, college tuition fees cost around $4,295 per year, one of the most expensive tuition fees out of all the countries on our list. For international students, college is similarly expensive, costing at least $18,883 per year.
The cost of living in New Zealand is one of the highest on our list, with the estimated expenses of a single student equalling around $17,980 and a monthly public transportation pass costing up to $100.48.
The Cheapest States to be a Student
1. Oklahoma | Student cost score: 8.78/10
Students in Oklahoma benefit from the cheap cost of living in the state and the small-town feel of many of the state’s biggest cities. With country music and Southern comfort food, Oklahoma has plenty to offer for college students.
Oklahoma has one of the cheapest average costs of living out of all 50 states, with only Kansas boasting lower average living costs. The low cost of dorm rooms in the state reflects this, with a room costing on average $4,816 per year.
Tuition fees at public colleges in Oklahoma cost around $7,710 for out-of-state students, and for private institutions, fees are around $18,097 per year.
2. North Dakota | Student cost score: 8.52/10
Offering culture, art, and history, North Dakota has a growing student population and excellent academic institutions.
One of the cheapest states to study in, tuition fees at private colleges in North Dakota are on average $14,016 per year – the cheapest out of all 50 states. For public colleges, tuition fees are around $8,260 per year.
North Dakota has a cost of living index of 98.2, which despite not being the lowest on our list, is contrasted by one of the cheapest average dorm costs at $3,930 per year.
3. Arkansas | Student cost score: 8.42/10
Home to one of the vastest and most diverse natural environments in the country, Arkansas is one of the cheapest states to be a student.
The state ideal for nature-lovers has one of the lowest average tuition fees at public colleges, at around $7,699 per year. Similarly, for private institutions, fees average around $16,411, one of the cheapest states on our list.
Arkansas has a lower cost of living index than most states in the US, at 90.9, and college-owned dorm rooms cost around $5,486 per year.
The Most Expensive States to Be a Student
1. Vermont | Student cost score: 0.67/10
According to all of the factors we looked at, Vermont is the most expensive state to be a student in. Known for its high cost of living and academic institutions, Vermont is the worst US state for students on a budget.
Vermont has the most expensive average college tuition fees out of all states in the US, with public colleges charging around $28,793 per year for out-of-state students and private universities charging $35,484 per year.
Vermont’s cost of living index is one of the highest on our list, at 117, and college-owned accommodation costs around $7,980 per year.
2. Massachusetts | Student cost score: 0.92/10
Often named as having one of the strongest education systems in the United States, Massachusetts is also one of the most expensive locations for students.
Massachusetts has one of the highest cost of living indexes out of all 50 states, at 135, increasing the average daily expenses of students in the state.
College-owned accommodation can cost around $8,587 a year, one of the most expensive locations we looked at.
Massachusetts is also home to some of the highest average tuition fees in all of the US, with private colleges charging $32,039 per year and public colleges charging $15,747 for out-of-state students.
3. Rhode Island | Student cost score: 0.92/10
The New England state of Rhode Island is popular among students, with many flocking to the state’s towns and cities to carry out their studies.
Rhode Island is also one of the most expensive states to study in, with a cost of living index of 117.2, meaning students can spend significantly more on expenses like groceries throughout the year.
The average cost of college-owned dormitory accommodation is $7,858 per year in Rhode Island.
Rhode Island also has some of the highest average tuition costs out of all states, with public colleges charging around $24,171 and private colleges charging around $28,620.
The Cost of Being a Student in the US
The Cost of Being a Student Around the World
We gave each location a normalized score out of 10 for each of the following criteria. We then calculated the average score out of 10 across all factors to give a ‘global student cost’ out of 10, which we used to form our ranking.
The cost of living index of each state was sourced from the Missouri Economic Research and Information Center and is accurate as of 2021.
The average cost of public and private college tuition for the academic year 2021-2022 in each state was sourced from College Tuition Compare.
The average annual cost of a college dormitory room charged for full-time students in degree-granting postsecondary institutions in 2018-19 by the state was sourced from the National Center for Education Statistics.
The maximum average cost of a monthly transportation pass by country, with student discount where available, was sourced from Masters Portal and TFL. For Poland, the average cost of €50 for a 6-month semester pass was divided by 6.
All values were converted to USD using XE on 30/3/22.
The maximum average cost of college-owned or on-campus accommodation per year in each country was sourced from Masters Portal. Values sourced in GBP, EUR, AUD, and CAD were converted to USD using XE on 3/30/22.
The minimum annual cost of public undergraduate tuition fees for international students for each country was sourced from Education Data, and, where unavailable, from Finder. Values sourced in GBP were converted to USD using XE on 3/30/22.
The annual average tuition fees charged by tertiary institutions to national students (2015/16) for bachelor’s level study or equivalent was sourced from OECD Library and, where unavailable, from Education Malaysia, Top Universities, Masters Portal, ES-France, Scholaro, Study In Russia, Smart Wealth and Mextudia.