Study Abroad

Cutting the cost of an American degree

Getting a degree in America can be costly business. Make sure you aren't paying more than you have to.Cut the cost of American Degree

We're afraid that there is no such thing as a 'cheap' American degree, only one that's cheaper than it might otherwise be.

It's important to remember that it's not just the tuition fees you need to budget for, but general living costs and travel between the states and home.

It might also be worthwhile keeping an eye on the dollar-pound currency exchange rate throughout your study (see xe.com).

Here are a few ways which can help you to reduce the cost of studying in the US.

Accelerated programs

accelerationBy reducing the time spent on your degree, you can significantly reduce the cost of obtaining it (and start repaying it quicker).

At some colleges you may be able to apply for an 'accelerated program', which essentially boosts you through a typical four year course at university in just three. Dropping the extra year may save you as much as £30,000 (fees and living costs).

You'll have a higher chance of getting on such a program if you have excellent school grades and demonstrate a real desire for learning.

Community College

Some undergraduate students (both US and UK) choose to spend the first two years of their study in a public community college (sometimes called a 'technical college').

community collegeOver this time students will cover a variety of subjects, before working towards their specific subject of interest in their final 2-3 years at university.

Community colleges act as a gateway to a full degree for students from families of a lower income. The tuition fees are substantially less than those of a university.

However, assuming you pass your exams and achieve the required grades, you are able to enroll for the final part of your degree at a university or college.

It's important that you carry out your research, as there are some profound differences across institutions. For example some American community colleges have an automatic transfer to state universities whilst some require you to apply yourself.

For more information, see the American Association of Community Colleges website.

Funding, grants and scholarships

money on printingParticularly if you are good at academia or sports, you may be able to secure a scholarship at an American college. In all cases, it can be well worth applying.

See funding for study at an American university for all the details.

Compare university fees

Aside from reducing the fees at a certain university, you can also be smart in exploiting differences in the actually tuition fees set across a number of contending American universities for your course.

Whilst a degree at somewhere like Harvard is considered priceless by many, you can get an excellent degree from many other American universities, especially if it specialises in your subject matter.

So do your research and work out estimates of how much it will cost you to live and study at a few of your prospective universities.

Work for it

american waitressOnce you've been placed (congratulations!), it may be worth tracking down a student job at your college.

There's some great opportunities in America for students looking for work. Just make sure you check the rules about international students and the amount of time that they are able to work for each week.

If not pay, you could benefit from free board or food.

This article is part of our Study Abroad America series.

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