10 Cheap schools in the US and how you should apply to them

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Affordability or cheapness is quite relative. This is simply because what may seem cheap to you may be expensive to another and vice versa. Therefore, it is important to understand some factors that determine the affordability or cheapness of a school.  A lot of discussions and debates center affordability on the rising tuition fees but there’s more to that. We cannot totally say a school is cheap or affordable if the cost of other necessities to get an education except the tuition fee is very high. Therefore, affordability isn’t dependent on only the cost of tuition fees.

Some factors that determine the affordability of a school include:

  1. The general cost of living in the state where the institution is located.
  2. The total amount of money you are willing to spend as a person to get an education in a particular school.
  3. The cost of transportation, feeding, and other bills like electricity, water, and gas (especially for students who intend to live off campus)
  4. The cost of accommodation within the city where the school is located (this applies if you will be living off-campus)
  5. The total cost of attending the school including tuition, and other application fees, excluding any financial aid received by the student.

Some of the schools in the United State with relatively low tuition include:

Hillsborough Community College: is one of the cheapest schools in Florida. The estimated annual cost for international students sums up to about $22.000. It is important to know that this amount is subject to change as certain factors may trigger an increase or decrease in fees. According to the HCC website, The current non-resident tuition rate for one credit hour is $379.61. The cost of tuition for a full course of study (12 credit hours) for one term is $4,555.32 at a minimum. Note that other fees may apply and tuition is paid on a term-by-term basis.  You can begin your journey to enrolling here

Minot State University: is the 3rd largest university in North Dakota and is located at 500 University Ave W, Minot, ND 58707, USA. To begin the application process, you must pay a $35 non-refundable fee. Additionally, you must submit a transcript from your previous colleges or universities(for graduate students) and transcripts from your previous high school or secondary school (for undergraduate students), as well as three recommendations from individuals familiar with your academic background and history. It is also required that students who come from countries where English is not their native language show proof of their proficiency in the language. 

Those who wish to live on campus are required to pay a sum of $9,802.88 per semester (this fee is inclusive of tuition fees), while those who wish to live outside the campus are required to pay a sum of $6,512.88 per semester. Visit the school website here to calculate the cost of an academic year according to your preference using the cost estimator on the school website. 

Western Illinois University: One fact that may interest you is that WIU doesn’t require SAT and ACT test scores. The annual cost to attend WIU is about $22,000. It is important to note that annual estimates are for a new student enrolling in 15 credit hours for the fall and spring semesters at the Macomb campus with a residence hall double room and basic meal plan. Estimates do not include textbooks, student health insurance, or personal expenses. The portal is currently unavailable for international students but will become available from November 1st. A non-refundable fee of $50 is required to begin an application process. It is important to note that applications will not be processed if payment is not received. You can begin your application here.

 applying for an F-1 student visa will be required to show proof of finances for the total

Lynn University:

Lynn is ranked one of the top US Universities by US News & World Report. Lynn University Tuition fee costs an average of $750 per credit for international graduate applicants. There are additional costs like meal plans and health insurance. To secure a spot for yourself at the university, start by filling out an application on the school’s website here. Note that some important documents required include: Personal statements, and transcripts bearing the institution’s seal or stamp, issued in English or with a certified English translation. Note that Lynn University recommends that your transcript be verified by NACES and sent directly to the Lynn University admission office. A current resume is also required alongside proof of English proficiency unless you’ve previously attended an English-first institution, a Duolingo score of 110+, and a letter of recommendation from a professor or employer among other requirements.

California State University:

The tuition fees and mandatory campus charges for undergraduate resident and graduate resident students range between $3,730 and $4,500. Application for the 2023 – 2024 cycle is currently on and you can apply by clicking here

George Institute of Technology: Like every other university, George Institute of Technology’s admission cost varies according to the program of study, whether it is a first-year, transfer, or graduate application. The current year’s cost for a graduate program as an international student sums up to about $19,000. This cost covers tuition, books, standard housing allowance, meal plans, and miscellaneous expenses. To determine if you can afford the university, visit the school’s website here. George Institute of Technology considers an applicant’s academic history as well as life outside the classroom so you’ll be at an advantage if you include documents that show volunteering and extracurricular activities. It is important to understand that application deadlines vary by program so keep tabs on the school website to be sure you don’t miss any deadlines.

Bradley University:

It is located in Illinois, United States, and is one of the top-ranked private universities in the country. With more than 180 graduate and undergraduate programs in communications, sciences, fine arts, and business, the university has got a variety of courses for you to choose from. Just like any other university, this university has different tuition costs for first-year students and graduate students. International graduate students are required to pay a sum of $17,820 for two semesters as tuition fees. To get more information on Bradley University, visit the school website here.

North Carolina State University: North Carolina State University is the largest public university in the state with a student population exceeding 37,000. Currently, there are over 120 countries represented at the school, so there’s sure to be a place for you there. According to the Centre for University Rankings, NCSU ranks among the top 1% of universities worldwide. Undergraduate NC Residents and out-of-state residents living on or off campus pay between $25,752 and $40,325 in tuition. Applicants must pay a non-refundable fee of $100 to begin the application process. You should review the dates and deadlines before applying.

Westcliff University: is a private university located in California. Home to students from over 80 countries, Westcliff focuses on programs in education and business. The 2022-2023 fall tuition fees range between $620 per credit hour and $895 per credit hour for bachelor’s, master’s, and doctorate programs. Certificate program tuitions range between $2,600 and $12,000. If you need some financial aid to help you through schooling here, you can estimate your financial aid eligibility by using the school’s Net Price Calculator. It is important to note that late tuition for new students costs a sum of $50 per week. Westcliff University requires that transcripts not in English must be evaluated by an appropriate third party and translated into English or evaluated by a trained transcript evaluator fluent in the language on the transcript. If you wish to pursue a program at WU, you should see more admission requirements for international students.

Minnesota State University: with students from more than 90 countries, the university has proved to be one of the US Universities that embraces diversity. The University has 130 undergraduate and 85 graduate programs and is recognized by the Council on Undergraduate Research as one of the top 20 universities in undergraduate research in the United States. One interesting piece of information you’ll like to have is that all degree-seeking, international bachelor’s students AUTOMATICALLY receive the International Maverick Scholarship unless a student chooses not to participate.

The total estimated bachelor’s degree tuition fee for a full year with the scholarship sums up to about $26,560 and $34,260 without the Maverick scholarship. This estimated budget is current as of July 2022. To begin your application process, fill out the e-application form on the school’s website, and upload all required documents to your personalized dashboard. Visit the school’s website to see the  required documents for a bachelor’s degree international student


  • It is important to understand that the estimated budget for the tuition fees for each school changes so be sure to keep tabs on the website of your desired institution.
  • Read through each school’s website THOROUGHLY and be sure to understand every piece of information.
  • Each school website carries the contact details of the admissions department so you can either put a call through or send an email if you need more information.
  • Some universities have student ambassadors that will be willing to help you through your application process. You can get the contact of student ambassadors on the school website. 
  • Please note that the above list is also based on schools with high rankings so you may find cheaper schools with low rankings that are not on this list.
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