Are you thinking about studying in the USA? It is a fantastic decision for international students because of its world-class universities and multicultural exposure. America is home to top-ranking universities such as Harvard University, Princeton University, and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

Apart from the rigorous study programs, the USA offers a diverse environment, allowing students to build global networks with students from all over the world. However, studying in US universities can be expensive if you’re not starting right with the right research. This article explores the top affordable universities in the USA, covering the tuition cost and admission requirements.

Affordable Universities in the USA for International Students

Although America is more expensive than other countries for higher education as an international student, you can avail of several affordable four-year degree programs and Master’s degrees in the US for international students.

1. Pennsylvania State University

Pennsylvania State University originally focused on agricultural science but has now extended its curriculum across fields such as engineering, liberal arts, and many other diverse fields. The institute is well-known for its College of Education and College of Engineering which offers highly ranked graduate programs.

The university boasts about 20 undergraduate campuses across Pennsylvania, allowing international students to pick the institute most ideal for them. Among these schools, the most affordable ones include Brandywine, Altoona, and Berks.

2. University of South Florida

The University of South Florida was founded in 1956. It is a well-known high-impact global research university that offers more than 200 undergraduate programs, 260 master’s programs, and 160 doctoral programs. It is an excellent choice for international students seeking quality education that doesn’t break the bank. Apart from affordability, the university boasts a diverse environment with about 5,000 international students from over 145 countries.

USF shows off three campuses including Tampa, St. Petersburg, and Sarasota-Manatee opening new doors to various career opportunities for international students. The university provides students with career services to enhance their university experience. This includes job search, and resume writing. The university also boasts strong industry connections, giving students a chance to gain field experience through co-op and internship opportunities.

3. University of Buffalo

Founded in 1846, the University of Buffalo is a public research institute in Buffalo, New York. The university offers more than 140 programs in engineering, science, business administration, legal studies, and art. UB collaborates with industries through Business and Entrepreneur Partnerships (BEP), allowing students to avail research and growth opportunities.

One of the perks of studying at UB is its affordability. The university is known as one of the world’s most budget-friendly institutes and it ranks at the 23rd position for hosting international students in the US. This makes it an exceptional choice for international students seeking a friendly and welcoming environment.

4. Arizona State University

Arizona State University offers competitive tuition fees to international students, making it quite affordable. The scholarship options further alleviate the financial burden on students. One example is the New American University Scholarship available to international students, which covers undergraduate student fees based on their academic performance.

ASU is well-known for producing notable graduates. Examples include Dereck Hall, President and CEO of Arizona Diamondbacks who pursued a bachelor’s degree in broadcasting and journalism from ASU. Another example is Temple Grandin, an animal behaviorist who has made several contributions to the livestock industry and to understanding autism. Grandin acquired a master’s degree in animal science from ASU.

5. Purdue University

Purdue University is a public institute located in Indiana. Established in 1869, the institute is famous for its strong STEM programs such as engineering and mathematics. These programs are also very cost-effective, making it a top affordable choice for international students.

The university’s School of Engineering is particularly recognized as the “Cradle of Astronauts” because of the contributions made to the US space program. Hence, the university boasts notable alumni such as Neil Armstrong, an astronaut and aeronautical engineer who pursued a degree in aeronautical engineering at Purdue University.

6. Iowa State University

Iowa State University was founded in 1858 as the Iowa Agricultural College and Model Farm. In 1862, Iowa became the nation’s inaugural designated land-grant institution after accepting the Morrill Act of 1862. Later in 1959, the college was named Iowa State University of Science and Technology.

It is a great option for international students due to its academic excellence and affordability. Iowa offers students a wide variety of academic programs with over 100 majors. Alongside studies, students can gain leadership skills by participating in over 850 student organizations. The university is quite budget-friendly, considering the merit scholarships it offers to international students. The scholarship amount is usually based on academic achievements and test scores.

7. University of Arizona

The University of Arizona was established by the 13th Arizona Territorial Legislature in 1885. It is globally recognized for its academic programs and research contributions.

UA boasts a diverse student body consisting of more than 4,000 international students from all over the world. It is popular among international students for its Student Engagement and Career Development Center, providing students with valuable internship, research, and networking opportunities. Its notable graduates are evidence of the university’s excellent education. This contributes to its popularity among international students.

8. Oklahoma State University

Established in 1890, Oklahoma State University is a renowned public research university located in Stillwater, Oklahoma. It is a flagship land-grant institution of Oklahoma which offers over 200 academic programs across nine schools and colleges. OSU is renowned for its reasonable cost of education. The institute provides scholarships worth $10,000 per year to international students, making education in the USA more affordable. Students can pick their preferred major in fields such as business, engineering, agriculture, and arts.

9. Mississippi State University

Mississippi State University was established in 1878. It was initially known as the Agricultural and Mechanical College of the State of Mississippi. The university was among the national land-grant institutes established by Congress as part of the Morril Act in 1862. The university boasts 8 undergraduate colleges, offering students many academic options with 175 degree programs.

The 19-to-1 student-faculty ratio is one of the features that makes this institute unique. It also ranks among the top 50 universities for humanities and falls among the top 20 Best Buy American Colleges (rated by Forbes). Notable alumni include John Grisham, a famous novelist, lawyer, and Mississippi House of Representatives member. His contributions to literature and popular culture reflect MSU’s excellence in education and polishing talent.

10. Rutger’s University

Rutgers University is one of the oldest universities in the United States. Founded in 1766, the university enjoys the first position among other public universities in New Jersey according to the US News and World Report. Rutgers University is subdivided into three regional campuses: Rutgers-Newark, Rutgers-Brunswick, and Rutgers-Camden. The university’s student body includes more than 9000 international students from 130 countries, making it one of the most diverse universities in the USA.

Apart from diversity and affordability, its attractive career services make it an ideal choice for international students seeking to establish careers in the USA. This includes job fairs and connections with alumni mentors specifically tailored for international students by the International Students Career Community.

11. University of Texas Arlington

University of Texas Arlington, located in Texas, is a model 21st-century urban research university. It is famous for its innovative approach and global leadership, classified as the “R1: Doctoral Universities for very high research activity.” It offers some of the most cost-effective programs to international students, especially the Master of Data Science program offered by the College of Engineering.

The university offers several scholarships to international students to reduce their financial burden. Hence, it holds the first position in Dallas-Fort Worth’s return on investment. Besides affordability, the university is popular for its alumni. One example is Kalpana Chawla, the first woman of Indian origin to fly to space. She pursued a master of science degree in aerospace engineering from UTA.

12. University of Massachusetts Lowell

The University of Massachusetts Lowell was established in 1895. It is a public research university located in Massachusetts. Prospective international students can choose from over 120 bachelor’s degree programs, 43 master’s programs, and 25 doctoral degree programs in engineering, criminal justice, science, technology, education, and even music.

UMass Lowell is one of the few public universities in the United States that offers accredited undergraduate degrees in specialized fields such as meteorology, sound recording technology, nuclear technology, and plastics engineering. It stands among the top 200 research universities in the United States. The university was also the first to offer a degree in music education.

13. University of Toledo

The University of Toledo is a metropolitan public research university located in Northwest Ohio. Established in 1872, UToledo is one of the fifteen comprehensive publicly funded universities. With a strong focus on research, the university secures over $60 million in research funding annually. The research fund is allocated for several research initiatives across disciplines, making significant contributions to technological advancements.

UToledo provides affordable tuition options to international students. This includes scholarships to help students manage their educational costs effectively. The International Student and Scholar Office supports international students with visa requirements, housing arrangements, baking, and health insurance.

14. Texas Tech University

Texas Tech University is a comprehensive public research university in Lubbock, Texas. The institute is quite popular among international students, ranking 99th out of 1279 colleges in terms of international student admissions. Its student body consists of about 5.2% international students from 48 countries, especially India, China, and Bangladesh.

If you’re a prospective bachelor’s student, some affordable program options include Biology, Communication, and Chemistry. Some cost-effective graduate programs include Clinical Mental Health Counselling, Strategic Communication, and School Counseling. The university ranks among the top 200 National Universities according to US News and World Report.

15. California State University

  • Admissions | Tuition Fees
  • Tuition Fees: from $396/Semester unit (Undergraduate) | $4164 to $7176/Year (Graduate)

As the name suggests, California State University (CSU) is a distinguished public university in California, comprising 23 campuses distributed throughout the state. Each division provides several degree programs ranging from Bachelor’s and Master’s to English as a Second Language (ESL) programs.

These programs help international students improve their English language skills. An inclusive environment and programs to support international students make it an ideal option for foreign students.

FAQs about Studying in the USA

What Are the General Requirements to Study USA?

When applying to universities in the US, you must submit your academic transcripts to help universities understand your grading system and education. Most universities require proof of English language proficiency by taking exams like IELTS or TOEFL. Prospective bachelors students must take the SAT while graduate students must submit GRE scores. Other requirements include recommendation letters, student visas, and a statement of purpose.


The United States is often thought to be expensive in terms of education as an international student. However, several US universities offer affordable education to students and scholarships to help reduce the financial burden. It is critical to conduct in-depth research to find the most affordable yet top-tier university that aligns with your career goals.


Hopefully, this was a helpful article on the USA’s affordable universities. To know more information on studying abroad, check out the Available Programs for International Students.

About the Author: Hyun Lee

Hi! I am Hyun, and I am the founder at Global Scholarships. I've received a full-tuition scholarship at Birmingham-Southern College and a $1,000 Burger King Scholarship for my undergraduate degree and was offered a fully funded scholarship consisting of tuition, living stipend, and health insurance for computer science Ph.D. program at North Carolina State University. You can read more about my scholarship journey here. If you are interested, you can follow me on Linkedin where I regularly write about scholarship opportunities.

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