21 Cheapest & Affordable Colleges in USA for International Students

Being an international student in the United States can be an exciting experience, but it can also be expensive. Fortunately, there are several affordable options for those who want to study abroad in the USA.

This list of the 21 cheapest and most affordable colleges in the USA for international students should help you get started. Here is a look at some of the top universities that won’t break your budget.

1. University of the People

The University of the People is a tuition-free, online institution offering degrees in Health Science, Business Administration, Computer Science, and Education. Being online, you can save significantly on living expenses, making it a perfect option for budget-conscious students.

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2. Berea College

Located in Kentucky, Berea College offers a promising liberal arts education with no tuition cost. The students are only required to pay for their personal expenses and a portion of room, board, and fees.

3. California State University, Long Beach

Offering affordability along with quality, California State University, Long Beach is an excellent option. Its Engineering, Nursing, and Psychology programs are particularly notable.

4. City University of New York (CUNY)

With a wide range of programs on offer, CUNY offers affordable education opportunities in the heart of New York City. It’s one of the largest urban university systems in the US.

5. Alcorn State University

Situated in Mississippi, Alcorn State University has robust and affordable programs, particularly in Nursing and Education, making it a viable choice for aspiring international students.

6. Minot State University

Minot State University located in North Dakota provides quality education at competitive tuition rates. Its Business, Education, and Health programs stand out.

7. South Texas College

For students interested in Business, Technology, or Nursing, South Texas College is a popular choice due to its low tuition rates.

8. Lehman College, CUNY

A part of the CUNY system, Lehman College is a liberal arts institution offering a variety of undergraduate programs at reasonable costs.

9. University of Florida

Ranked consistently among top public universities, the University of Florida has both in-state and out-of-state tuition rates that are within reach of many international students.

10. San Diego State University

Situated in sunny California, San Diego State University offers relatively low tuition rates for its programs, including Business, Engineering, and Health Sciences.

11. California State University, Fresno

Also known as Fresno State, this university has a strong emphasis on Agricultural Sciences, Business, and Engineering programs, offering them at a comparatively low tuition rate.

12. University of Wyoming

The University of Wyoming offers affordable education, with strong programs in Business, Education, and Engineering.

13. University of Southern Mississippi

With a broad range of programs, the University of Southern Mississippi offers an affordable tuition rate for international students.

14. University of Central Florida

Being one of the largest universities in the US, the University of Central Florida offers a broad range of programs at affordable tuition rates.

15. Brigham Young University

Brigham Young University in Utah provides heavily subsidized education to students, making it a highly affordable option. It’s affiliated with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.

16. Florida International University

Florida International University is known for its affordability and its excellent programs in Hospitality, Business, and Engineering.

17. University of North Florida

Located in Jacksonville, University of North Florida is a relatively small public university offering a range of degree programs at affordable rates.

18. San Francisco State University

For students wishing to study in California, San Francisco State University offers a broad range of programs at competitive tuition rates.

19. Texas Woman’s University

Despite its name, Texas Woman’s University is open to both male and female students. This institution offers a variety of degree programs at very affordable tuition rates.

20. Western Kentucky University

Located in Bowling Green, Western Kentucky University offers a variety of undergraduate and graduate programs at affordable rates.

21. New Mexico Highlands University

The New Mexico Highlands University offers a number of undergraduate and graduate programs at very competitive tuition rates. This institution is known for its programs in Social Work and Business.

How Can Students from India Get Admission to These Colleges?

Gaining admission to US colleges as an international student from India involves a multi-step process. Here’s a breakdown of the journey to help you navigate it smoothly.


Start by thoroughly researching your shortlisted colleges. Visit their websites, reach out to their admission offices, and gather as much information as you can.

Pay particular attention to the specific requirements for international students, such as English proficiency tests, SAT or ACT scores, and financial requirements.

Prepare for Standardized Tests

Most US universities require international students to take certain standardized tests. These may include the SAT or ACT for undergraduate admissions and the GRE or GMAT for graduate admissions.

In addition, because English is the primary language of instruction in US universities, you may also need to take an English proficiency exam like the TOEFL or IELTS.


Begin the application process by filling out the forms provided by the universities. These will typically require you to provide personal information, academic records, test scores, and a statement of purpose or essays. Some universities may also require letters of recommendation.

Transcripts and Recommendations

You’ll need to provide your academic transcripts from your previous institutions.

If the transcripts are not in English, you might need to get them translated. Recommendation letters, typically from teachers or professors who know your academic abilities well, are also crucial.

Financial Documents

Most US universities require proof that you can finance your education. You might need to provide bank statements or financial affidavits showing you or your sponsor’s financial status.


Some universities conduct interviews as part of their admission process. This might be a face-to-face meeting or an online interaction.

Visa Application

Once you receive an acceptance letter from a university, you’ll need to apply for a student visa. You’ll have to go to the nearest US consulate or embassy for a visa interview.

You’ll need to provide various documents, including your university admission letter, proof of financial support, and other supporting documents.

Health Insurance

Many US universities require international students to have health insurance. Some universities offer their own health insurance plans, while others require students to seek insurance from an external provider.

Arriving in the USA

Once you receive your visa, you can plan your travel to the USA. It’s a good idea to arrive a few weeks before your program starts so you have enough time to settle in, attend orientation programs, and adjust to your new environment.

It’s important to remember that each college may have its own specific requirements and deadlines.

Always double-check the admission requirements for each college on their official websites and make sure to complete all the steps accurately and on time.

Getting everything right will increase your chances of being accepted and starting your academic journey in the USA.

Remember, this process takes time, so start early and be patient. And when you finally land in the USA and start your classes, all your hard work will be worth it. Good luck on your academic journey!


[^1^]: University of the People
[^2^]: Berea College
[^3^]: California State University, Long Beach
[^4^]: City University of New York (CUNY)
[^5^]: Alcorn State University
[^6^]: Minot State University
[^7^]: South Texas College
[^8^]: Lehman College, CUNY
[^9^]: University of Florida
[^10^]: San Diego State University
[^11^]: California State University, Fresno
[^12^]: University of Wyoming
[^13^]: University of Southern Mississippi
[^14^]: University of Central Florida
[^15^]: Brigham Young University
[^16^]: Florida International University
[^17^]: University of North Florida
[^18^]: San Francisco State University
[^19^]: Texas Woman’s University
[^20^]: Western Kentucky University
[^21^]: New Mexico Highlands University

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Mani Karthik

About the Author

Mani Karthik

Ex “NRI” and Founder of the “Back to India” movement. I share my experience about immigrating to USA here.

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