Studying in the UK is generally cheaper than studying at equally ranked universities in the United States. Given that degree programs are also often shorter than those at home, students are poised to get the best bang for their buck by pursuing a British education.
Tuition fees for UK undergraduate and graduate degrees generally range from $17,000 - $25,000 per academic year (depending on the exchange rate at the time of study). On average, students need between $1,300- $1,600 for living expenses per month of study (depending on if you decide to live inside or outside London). Some students decide to remain in the UK over summer holidays and should therefore expect to cover living expenses for all 12 months of the year. Other students choose to return home to the US for summer holidays and there would typically expect to pay living expenses in the UK for approximately 9 months.
VALUE FOR MONEY
Before purchasing anything, people usually research their options to ensure they not only get the best price, but also the best "bang for their buck". Your education should be no different. As you consider the cost of education both in the States and abroad and as you weigh the pros and cons of studying in the UK, don't forget to factor in value for money. Consider this: the United Kingdom offers the best education money can buy in the English-speaking world. By studying in the United Kingdom, you get the best for less. Not only could you earn a world-class education, international exposure and experience, and the chance to travel, but also the opportunity to make friends from around the world, all in less time and for less money than at an American university. That is value for money you just can’t beat.
Yes, maybe your local community college costs less, but why live with your parents or never venture past your city's boundaries when, as a student and for roughly the same price, you could get a degree in another country, see the world, and study with other students from almost every continent?
Most American students need to take out student loans to pay for their studies, but we think studying in the UK is the best way to make your student loan pay you back.
With that, let's break down student living expenses:
On-campus accommodation for the first year of study is typically guaranteed to international students who apply by the accommodation deadline. This guarantee applies to all of Across the Pond’s partner universities. University halls of residence generally cost anywhere from $85-$220 per week. Depending on the university, this price could include any or all of the following: an internet connection, gym membership, content insurance, one’s own personal bathroom, catered meals, and sometimes even a cleaning service! As you research university housing, don’t forget to double check everything the listed price includes. Most undergraduate accommodation contracts will cover the fall and spring terms and then students will either return to the US for summer holidays or move into a separate flat with friends for the summer. Some accommodations do offer full year contracts to enable international students to remain on campus through the summer, particularly if they are postgraduate students writing their dissertation. Each university tries to provide a variety of accommodation options on campus and sometime in the city in order to help students find a solution that best fits their needs.
Private sector accommodation, or city housing, will vary in price and quality depending on the type of accommodation you want and the area in which it is located. Note that the cost of rent does not usually include the internet or any of the above-mentioned perks that are included with university housing. Additionally, because you will likely not have a British guarantor, landlords may request anywhere from 3 to 12 months' worth of rent up front to secure a flat in their building. Though it is more difficult to arrange city housing, and Across the Pond’s official advice is to opt for university housing, living in the city can be achieved as an international student. A few of our advisors have even done it! We would be happy to help you if this is your goal.
OTHER STUDENT EXPENSES
When it comes to the costs of books, travel, entertainment, necessities, and the other needs and wants of students, this largely depends on each student’s lifestyle and goals while abroad. Usually, the amount student are required by the Home Office to have available - $16,000 to $20,000 in living expenses per year, depending on the exchange rate at the time of study - is totally sufficient to ensure each student has a safe and comfortable place to live, has plenty to eat, plenty to spend, and plenty to save in case of emergencies. And hey, this is also a great opportunity to learn how to live on a budget. Can you say “adulting”?
WHAT ABOUT WAYS TO FUND AND OFFSET THE COST?
Glad you asked! Our partner universities realize it is expensive to be a student (although it is generally much less expensive to study in the UK). As such, they make scholarships widely available to international students, whether they are applying to undergraduate or graduate programs.
Unlike American scholarships, however, these scholarships do not typically cover the entire cost of tuition fees and/or living expenses. Expect scholarship help to generally range anywhere from $2,500 and $10,500 (depending on the exchange rate when you study). Naturally, scholarships on the lower end are more common and easier to come by. Larger scholarships will typically be offered in limited numbers and can be quite competitive. Since tuition is so much cheaper in the first place, even a small scholarship makes a big difference. Also, unlike American universities, you will need an offer from a British university before applying to any scholarships they have available. We, therefore, recommend students who need scholarship assistance to submit their university applications no later than January or February of the year they hope to attend. This timeline will give universities sufficient time to review your application and issue a decision before their scholarship deadlines have passed.
You can almost always use US federal loans to help pay for your British education with the exception of a few of our partner universities. Plan to fill out the FAFSA application as usual. Keep in mind you will need to fully fund your year abroad through loans, personal finance, and/or scholarships before you arrive in the UK, and you will need to demonstrate that you have this funding in order to secure your student visa. Does the thought of taking out student loans make you panic? You are not alone. We offer advice and perspective about this cause of concern in our blog as well.
GET A JOB!
Probably one of the best opportunities available to you while in the UK is getting some international work experience to pop on your resume! As an international student in the UK, you can work up to twenty hours a week. Universities don't typically recommend students work any more than 20 hours per week even if they are US-based. Freshers (Freshmen) may want to wait until they have a better idea of what their school workload is like and then decide how many hours they feel they can work. Normal hourly pay ranges anywhere from $10-$12. Each university has a Careers Centre that can assist you in looking for part-time employment.
In summary, we know financially investing in anything is an important decision not to be made lightly. We hope these facts, as well as a bit of perspective, help you make a balanced and confident decision.