Cost Comparison: Studying in the UK vs USA

Is it Cheaper to Study in the UK or USA?

Studying in another country is super expensive! You have to plan ahead and budget. The United Kingdom and the United States are two famous places where international students go. But which one costs less, college or university?

There’s a bunch of stuff that makes up the total price:

  • Tuition money
  • Rent, food, wifi—living costs
  • Scholarship-free cash
  • Jobs while studying
  • Work visas after graduating

Let’s look at each thing to figure out if the UK or USA are cheaper!

Tuition Fees

Tuition is a huge cost. Here’s how much international students pay in the UK versus the USA:

UK public schools charge between $13,000 and $40,000 per year for bachelor’s degrees. Private colleges charge even more!

USA public universities: around $25,000 to $50,000 for undergraduates Private costs up to $60,000.

For master’s degrees, both charge from $20,000 to $45,000 usually. Medicine is crazy expensive! Up to $75,000 a year in both places

In the last 10 years, tuition has spiked way higher in the UK compared to America. But US schools add lots of extra fees.

Overall, tuition alone is lower in the UK. But super-high rent cancels it out, especially in London.

Living Expenses

Rent, food, transportation, and stuff add up fast when studying abroad!

International students in the UK spend about $16,000 to $21,000 per year on living costs. Rent is $6,500 to $13,000, depending on the city. Daily expenses like food and transport are around $1,000 to $1,600 monthly.

In the US, living expenses total $12,000 to $24,000 annually. Rent ranges from $650 to $2,600 per month. Other costs are $1,300 to $2,000 per month.

If you avoid London, the UK is still cheaper overall for the cost of living compared to America. It saves undergrads the most money in small college towns.

Scholarship Money

Scholarships help big time with the huge costs! Both places give awards to international students.

The UK government has the Chevening Scholarship, which covers all tuition and living expenses for graduate school. Universities also offer scholarships, usually $6,500 up to everything paid for!

America’s main national one is the Fulbright for graduate students. Universities give undergrads scholarships from $6,500 to full tuition.

You have to apply early and meet requirements like great grades, leadership, and financial need. Scholarships are super competitive! Don’t bank on them fully funding your studies abroad.

Part-time Jobs

International students can only work limited hours. But jobs provide extra money, which helps!

In the UK, students can work 20 hours weekly during school and full-time on breaks. Jobs in retail, restaurants, and tutoring pay around $8 to $16 per hour. You could earn up to $10,000.

US student visas only allow 20 hours per week on campus. Off-campus jobs are hard to get. Campus wages are around $10 to $15 per hour, earning about $4,000 part-time.

Clearly, the UK lets you work and make more as a student! The extra cash takes some pressure off living costs.

Post-Grad Work Visas

A big cost factor is being able to work full-time after graduating to pay off debt and make back money spent.

Until recently, the UK had a better work visa. International graduates could stay and work for up to 2 years.

But in 2021, the UK added the Graduate Immigration Route visa. It lets eligible graduates work or look for jobs for two years after finishing bachelor’s or master’s degrees. You have three years after graduating to get the visa.

In the US, you only have 1 year after finishing school to get Optional Practical Training work authorization. Staying longer is super hard without getting a specialty H-1B visa.

The UK’s new expanded work rights help make up for the higher tuition and living costs. Being able to earn money back through UK jobs makes it really appealing.

Total Cost: UK vs. USA

Let’s add up the average estimated costs per year for international students:

UK Total:

Tuition: £13,000 to $45,000

Living: $16,000 to $21,000

Lost work income: $6,500 to $10,000

TOTAL: $35,500 to $76,000

US Total:

Tuition: $25,000 to $80,000

Living: $16,000 to $24,000

Lost work income: $4,000 to $6,500

TOTAL: $45,000 to $110,500+

So studying in the UK looks over $13,500 cheaper on average than in the US per year.

But it depends on where and what you study. London or other big UK cities cost more. Degrees like medicine, engineering, and business can be similarly expensive in both places.

Which is more affordable?

The UK is cheaper overall for international students in most cases.

Lower tuition and better post-grad work visas outweigh the high living costs. But you still need scholarships and part-time work!

Research all the costs and funding options carefully when choosing between the UK and the US. No matter which you pick, the awesome education and life-changing experience are totally worth it!