Although most graduate schools in the USA list tuition fees on their website, it can be difficult to establish a total figure for the year. This is because some schools charge per semester, some charge per credit hour and others add on additional fees that may not be applicable to every student. To provide more clarity, the US Department of State for Education has launched the College Affordability and Transparency Centre. This online calculator enables prospective students to work out the cost of studying at any particular school, factoring in scholarships and grants where applicable. If you’re planning on studying for a postgraduate qualification in the USA, here are some further tips that can help you navigate through the complex world of tuition fees.
In the US, postgraduate tuition fees can often vary depending on whether a student is from in state, or out of state. Students who are residents in the same state as a university will usually pay far less than out-of-state or international students, even when taking the same course. This is because the federal government does not fund the US education system. Instead, each state runs public institutions like libraries and universities, and they are funded by taxes paid by residents of that state. To reflect their contribution, people who live in-state are offered preferential rates. Both international and out-of-state students are charged higher tuition fees, and at the same rate.
Federal guidelines demand that every college in the US uses a curriculum that reaches an acceptable standard, and covers an appropriate range of topics. However, you will pay far more to study in an Ivy League university like Brown, Cornell or Princeton, than you would in a smaller college. At Princeton, all graduate students pay $45,320 per year, along with a $1,900 charge for healthcare insurance. At the University of Dallas, graduates pay $15,000 for a full-time program and arrange their own healthcare cover. Similarly, to study for a postgraduate qualification in business at the University of Denver, the fee is $85,000 for one year for all students, but the University of Arkansas charges out-of-state students $12,000 for a complete academic year. It’s worth remembering though, that larger universities also offer the most generous scholarship programs; each year schools like Harvard and Pennsylvania allocate a significant proportion of their budget to funding students undertaking all types of course.
Your mode of learning will definitely affect the amount you’ll have to pay each year in tuition fees, but not all universities in the US offer part-time or online postgraduate courses. As a full-time student you’ll have to hand over more cash up front, but you’ll be able to leave and start work sooner. As a part-time postgraduate student the costs per semester will be more affordable, but you’ll pay the same amount in the long-term. US citizens are not subject to any work restrictions and can live at home whilst they study, so a part-time course with lower annual fees could help them achieve their academic goals with very little debt. International students may not be able to choose part-time study due to the limitations of their visa, so check with your university and the US Embassy in your country prior to applying. Studying for a postgraduate qualification online via a distance learning course can be cheaper. The University of Florida offers distance learning postgraduate degrees in everything from Biostatistics to Music Education and students pay an average of $21,807 for the year. It might not seem like much of a reduction, but online students can work from home at a rate that suits their job and lifestyle, so the overall costs can be much lower in comparison to studying on campus.
Aside from tuition fees, living expenses will form a significant proportion of your costs as a postgraduate student. Even if you live on a modest budget, you’ll have to factor in some essential extras. The price of annual healthcare insurance can run into thousands of dollars, but your university may take care of cover in-house and if so, there will be a slightly lower mandatory charge. You may also have to pay for transport to and from classes, and stock up on stationary supplies along with your textbooks. If you’re struggling to work out how much you’ll need in the bank before you leave, you can use the College Board living expenses guide for a rough idea of what to expect. Using data from the Consumer Expenditure Survey and US Office of Management and Budget, they have estimated student budgets over periods of nine or twelve months. These are not state specific however, and living costs vary considerably between different areas of the US. To find out more about the cost of living in the city or state where you plan to study, check with the schools financial office.