You will have two main costs you will incur while studying in the US: tuition and living expenses.

Tuition varies greatly between state universities and private universities and colleges, but by no means is a higher tuition fee indicative of a better school. State universities usually charge less than private institutions, while community, technical and vocational colleges generally have the lowest tuition fees.

Your cost of living in the US will depend on where you choose to study. Larger, urban centres, California and parts of the north-east will be more expensive than areas in the south and mid-west and other areas.

Tuition costs

Below is an outline of average tuition fees for international students studying in the US for 2008/09. Contact your institution of choice for more details.

Two-year community college USD 2,402 a year
Out-of-state (international) students at four-year state colleges and universities USD 17,452 a year
Private four-year colleges and universities USD 25,143 a year

Source: College Board, Trends in College Pricing 2008

Accommodation

Almost all US universities and colleges offer on-campus housing to students and are called residence halls or dormitories (dorms). These are usually equipped with basic furniture and can be shared or private rooms.

Some universities have apartment houses on campus. Priority is usually given to graduate students or those who are married or with families.

Off campus, you can choose to live in private rented accommodation which can be furnished or unfurnished. Most universities have a housing registry and local classified ads are also a good source of finding private accommodation. Homestay (living with a local family) is another popular option for international students, especially when they are first adapting to the American style of life.

Although averages do not necessarily reflect what all students pay, room and board annually ranges between USD 7,000 and 9,000 a year.

Financial assistance

Most institutions offer scholarships and grants to international students, although these are highly competitive. These are usually needs-based or are awarded for outstanding performance in a field of study, sport, performing art or other category. Check with your institution regarding the funding they have available for international students.

Research other funding opportunities with the Indian Government, corporations or other institutions.

Part-time work in US

Students who enter the US on an F-1 visa are permitted to work on campus for 20 hours a week and full time during holidays. Typical on-campus jobs include working in the university library, help desk or canteen.

After one year of study, you can apply to the US Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) for a special work permit to allow you to work off campus. Your international office on campus should be able to provide you with more information on the application procedure. If you are approved, you will still be limited to working 20 hours a week and full time during holidays.

Traveling to the US

Students need to keep baggage rules to the USA in mind while planning their travel.

A student traveling from India to the USA is normally entitled to carry two pieces of baggage, each weighing not more than 23 kgs each. Apart from this, cabin luggage and a laptop are allowed, but rules vary from one airline to another. Some airlines also offer extra baggage capacity for students going abroad on an F-I visa. Students are advised to contact the airline directly to avoid excess baggage problems at the airport.