Career Advice

How To Choose The Cheapest University To Study In

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Nothing is more heartbreaking for students than financial roadblocks preventing their academic progress. For this reason, many students look for educational options that deliver quality education without breaking the bank. As 3 in 4 Americans believe college has become unaffordable, it’s time to explore cost-effective academic institutes around town. Do a little digging and you’ll find many affordable universities in the country.

Here’s how you can achieve your academic goals while managing your finances properly:

1. Try some work-study programs

Many students look for part-time jobs while pursuing a master’s degree. Finding decent employment helps them afford even an expensive university. However, some universities offer work-study programs to make your academic journey even cheaper, especially if you’ve come from another country.

America once attracted international students from all over the world, but COVID-19 reduced these numbers by 72%, mainly because of overpriced educational opportunities. However, work-study programs have made American universities cheaper again for international students. For instance, Day 1 CPT options let international students enrolled in master’s or doctoral programs gain essential work experience as they study. CPT (curricular practical training) enhances their career prospects and employability.

Go online and search for the cheapest Day 1 CPT universities available. Consider many colleges, compare the costs of education, and find the ideal academic institution for your academic goals.

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2. Look for in-state tuition options

Look for a university in your state instead of going to another state to study. That’s because most public universities offer in-state students lower tuition rates compared to out-of-state students. Leaving your state for higher education may double or even triple the cost of learning.

If you live in Florida, you will pay the lowest in-state tuition fees in the country. But Vermont has the highest in-state tuition fees in America. So if you live in Vermont, consider joining an academic institute in Florida, the state with the lowest average out-of-state tuition among four-year institutions. Do a little digging about study options before finally choosing a university.

3. Seek online learning opportunities

Online programs became immensely popular during the pandemic. Even today, many students choose to pursue their academic goals online instead of joining an on-campus program. You can save a significant amount on housing and transportation by joining an online program.

An online course allows you to study at your own pace, progress flexibly, and keep your time job while studying. Surveys suggest students can save between $40,000 to $80,000 in four years by attending an online program. Similarly, another study shows you can pursue an online degree for $54,000, but the same degree will cost $85,000 when you attend in person on average.

4. Attend a community college

Many students attend a community college for two years and then transfer credits to a private university. That’s because community colleges are way cheaper than other universities. Attending a community college typically costs only one-third of what you would spend on a university education. Statistics show that community colleges nationwide cost $3,770 on average as tuition fees.

You can affordably pursue your academic goals and gather enough credits. Then, find universities that accept these credits and switch to a proper four-year program.

5. Research grants and scholarships

Many universities offer scholarships and research grants to exceptional students, especially if they are pursuing doctoral programs. These grants are often funded by govt agencies and private organizations as well. Look for suitable opportunities online by scrolling through relevant platforms like Fastweb to find appropriate college scholarships.

You should also fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). If your parents make less than $27,000 a year, you’re eligible for maximum financial aid. Apply for need-based scholarships via this route and don’t let money come in your way.

6. Look for academic payment plans

Many universities now let students spread out their payments flexibly across multiple months. So, you will pay your tuition fees in installments and make your university education more affordable.

What happens is that your tuition fees are broken down into smaller, more manageable payments. So, you can pay in monthly or quarterly installments. Many payment plans are interest-free and payments are deducted automatically from your bank account. This method offers better financial management. You won’t have to take out high-interest student loans and pursue your education affordably.

7. Study in a much cheaper town

Don’t forget about the cost of living in the area surrounding the university. Living in an expensive town can make education increasingly costlier for you. On the other hand, choosing a cheap college town is the best way to afford quality education. For instance, many national and international students choose the states of Kansas, Alabama, and Wyoming for their low living costs. Compare the cost of living and go to the most affordable to study inexpensively.

8. Negotiate with the financial aid office

Can you contact the financial aid office and discuss your financial situation? Absolutely. Don’t hesitate to call them and convince them why you should be given a decent discount. Even though most universities don’t advertise this fact, your tuition fees are negotiable. You can work with them to get a better deal, thereby reducing the cost of education by 5% to 15%. They may be able to adjust the aid package for you or give you relaxation in another case to help you out financially.

9. Explore non-American universities

Here’s another option most articles won’t tell you about, i.e., studying in European universities. As per one study done in 2016, around 10,000 US students were enrolled in German universities. And that’s simply because German universities charge no tuition fees from students, even if they’re coming from Third World countries. Many countries in the EU charge international students no tuition fees. Even if some colleges have started charging tuition fees, it’s very low compared to US universities.


Higher education costs can vary greatly, so you should find the cheapest university close to home and save substantial money in the long run. Follow the guidelines mentioned above to locate the most cost-effective study option. Look for in-tuition options, consider online learning, research financial aid, apply for grants or scholarships, or utilize curricular practical training (CPT). These simple options help you keep your academic journey under the budget.

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