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Expense Vs Earnings

A high living cost is a major concern for many international students seeking to study in the USA. Although the cost can vary depending on the city you live in, you need around 1,000 USD on average to regulate the expenses apart from your tuition fees. The overall living cost can be divided into many factors including accommodation, traveling, food, groceries, entertainment, stationery, and so on. The approximate monthly expense pertaining to various factors can be seen in the below table

Expense type Approximate monthly cost
Accommodation $200
Entertainment $100
Mobile $50
Electricity $20
Groceries $150
Petrol $75
Clothes $100

Of course, the list is not comprehensive, however, it will give you a general idea of the basic expenses you have to manage while studying in the USA.

Program Fee

School fees in the USA can go up to US$60,000 in the top tier universities. There are many economical options. Public universities, funded by the State are affordable while the private universities are expensive.

The cost of education depends upon the program, the university, and the city. Here are some sample estimates from popular cities in the US.

CityPublicPrivate
Massachusetts~$15,5255 / year~$34,370 / year
New York~$13.200 / year~$23.870 / year
Pennsylvania~$18,615 / year~$26,360 / year
North Carolina~$10,890 / year~$21,600 / year
Florida~$13,525 / year~ $17,975 / year

Living Expenses

Expenses might differ based on whether you live in the urban or suburban areas. Living in urban areas is expensive. Students can choose to stay on-campus or rent an accommodation outside. Food, transport, and entertainment contribute to other expenses.

Living on campus is economical with at least $400 to $500 for shared rooms. When renting out an apartment, you could spend between $600 to $3000.

There are utility charges like electricity ($50 to $100), internet ($45 to $50), phone ($50 USD/month).

Be prepared for miscellaneous expenses.

Financial Aids

Some institutions provide financial assistance to international students. Students should consult their universities to identify if assistantships, fellowships or partial waiver of fees is possible. Universities may have funds allocated to help international students on a need basis and merit basis.  Private, non-profit, or corporate scholarships may also be available for deserving candidates.

Additional costs

The additional costs involve secondary expenses and depend on how much you prefer to spend. The factor include

  • Traveling expenses if you choose to fly to your country during vacations.
  • The money you spend on buying new furniture, PC, car, etc.
  • Medical expenses such as routine checkups, eye-care, dental, and so on.
  • Your vacation and weekend trips.
  • Social gatherings and birthday parties and so on.

The above list demonstrates the need to search for a way to support yourself financially. Let’s explore what are the earning options for you.

Take First Step to Study in USA

Earning options

The US government provides privilege to the F1 visa holders to join employment in the country.  The employment options can be categorized into on-campus and off-campus and provide the restricted working permission of up to 20 hours per week (during term time). 

On-Campus Opportunities

The prime purpose for international students being education, USCIS authorizes only on- campus employment for F-1/J-1 visa holders only during the first year. A maximum of 20 hours per week during regular sessions and 40 hours per week during holidays and breaks are permitted. UCIS also allows off-campus options that are related to the candidates’ education in the form of internships and assistantships.

  • The on-campus job options include working in libraries, computer labs, cafeterias, receptionist jobs, etc. 
  • On-campus jobs – approximate earning
  • S7 to $12 per hour that can give you around $560 per month (if you work for 20 hours a week).

Off-campus job options

The off-campus job options include working in malls, restaurants, as a customer care executive, as a cashier, and so on. 

Please note, it is illegal to work off-campus without permission from respective authorities (especially if you are on an F1 visa) and you may encounter serious hazards if you found guilty.

Off-campus Jobs – Approximate Earning

Although, the pay may vary depending on the negotiation and the minimum wages associated with the job role, the average pay for an off-campus employment can be around $5 to $10 per hour.

International student work rights

The US government allows international students to work in the country during their studies. Whether you want to regulate your living expenses or add some valuable work experience to your CV you have options to do so. However, there are regulations you are supposed to abide by if you work as a student visa holder.

Employment options

As an F1 visa holder, you have four options to join employment in the country which include

  • On-Campus Employment
  • Off-Campus Employment
  • Curricular Practical Training (CPT)
  • Optional Practical Training (OPT)
  • On-campus employment

On-campus employment is the most convenient type of employment available for F1 visa holders. It allows you to work somewhere within your school premises (such as in the library or cafeteria). On-campus employment can be started as soon as your class starts. The working hours are restricted (up to 20 hours per week) during sessions but can be extended in holidays and breaks. You can join more than one on-campus job but the total working hours should not go beyond the allowed time i.e. 20 hours per week. 

Off-campus Employment

The students can join part-time employment outside of the school’s campus. The job can be joined only after completing one academic year and in certain circumstances such as loss of financial help, increment in the tuition fees, or the cost of living. Approval from the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement is mandatory to commence off-campus employment and the students are permitted to work up to 20 hours per week if their request gets approved.

Curricular Practical Training (CPT)

The CPT gives you the chance to gain real-world work experience (such as an internship) in the field pertaining to your study. In contrast to the other employment options, the CPT does not impose any restriction on the working hours. The student must complete one full academic year to get qualified for a CPT except under specific conditions. 

Please note, if you undergo a full-time CPT for a year or above, you lose your eligibility to get an OPT.

Optional Practical Training (OPT)

OPT is a 12 months work permit that allows international students to gain some valuable work experience in their field of study. OPT is of two types-

  • Pre-completion OPT
  • Post-completion OPT

The pre-completion OPT is used while studying and permits students to work only up to 20 in a week. Post-completion OPT is to be used after the completion of the degree and allows full-time employment. 

The general validity of an OPT is one year and can be extended if required. However, only the students pursuing STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) courses are eligible to extend their OPT. 

While the cost of living is high, and education is expensive, students do have various options to earn and save. Our counsellors can advise you on economic stay and study options in the US. Call us today!

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