One of the first questions you should ask yourself if you are considering studying abroad is, can afford the tuition and living expenses. There are several ways to plan for this cost. But first, let us shed some light on the approximate tuition costs for a higher level degree in the US, UK and Canada in 2020.

Many students heading to university want to study abroad, but are unsure as to whether they can afford the cost of tuition. Tuition is the money paid to universities and colleges for instruction and it is charged by the semester or quarter. The tuition fees can vary depending on the school and major you are interested in. Whether you are looking to study at a highly ranked university or a college that welcomes students on campus with a modest budget, you will find them all on SchoolApply and we can help you find the right school for you depending on your budget.


In this article, SchoolApply breaks down tuition fees (by far, the biggest cost you will encounter while studying abroad) by location, focusing on the US, UK and Canada. 

United States

The United States is the most popular destination for international students who are interested in studying abroad. It is, however, also one of the most expensive countries when it comes to attaining a university degree.

If you look at just the top-tier US universities (most of which are private universities), tuition costs are high and reach about USD 60,000 per year. According to the US News & World Report, the average tuition and fees for a private university in the US for the 2018-19 school year was about USD 35,676 at private colleges.

If you are looking for more affordable university options in the United States, it would be wise to explore the idea of studying at a public or state university. The cost of a study abroad program at a public institution is considerably lower than study abroad programs at private schools; the average tuition for out-of-state students in a public school in 2018-2019 was USD 21,629.

Here is the silver lining – though one of the most expensive destinations to obtain a higher academic degree, the United States offers plenty of great financial aid options to all students. The National Center for Education Statistics reports that in 2015-16, 85% of full-time undergraduate students at four-year universities in the United States received financial assistance. In the same timeframe, the percentage of students receiving financial aid at four-year public universities was 83% and it was 89% at four-year private non-profit institutions.

In fact, there are a number of scholarships that exist in the US that international students can apply for. If you receive one of these scholarships, not only will your financial burden lessen, but you can also highlight the achievement on your resume when you start your career. 

  • Fulbright Program for Foreign Students: Sponsored by the US government, the Fulbright Program for Foreign Students is an international educational exchange program aimed at developing mutual understanding between the people of the United States and other countries. This program enables graduate students from 155 countries worldwide to acquire a postgraduate or doctoral degree in the US. Program selection and eligibility criteria may vary for each country, so do your homework! These scholarships are administered by the Fulbright Commissions/Foundations or US embassies in each country and all applications are processed by these offices. The Program covers the cost of tuition and textbooks, airfare and also provides a living stipend and health insurance.
  • AAUW International Fellowships: These Fellowships, awarded by the American Association of University Women (AAUW), are given to women internationally who wish to pursue postgraduate studies at accredited US universities. In order to be eligible for these Fellowships, candidates should possess the equivalent of a US Bachelor’s Degree and should have applied to their proposed institutions of study by the time of the application. The Fellowships are worth $18,000 for masters students.

As scholarships tend to be awarded based on certain eligibility criteria, you should also conduct your own scholarship search, as you already know what requirements you will meet. Fortunately, most higher education institutions in the US provide their own financial aid and scholarships. The best way forward is to check with each college or university that you are interested in to find out about the financial aid and scholarships they offer and see which ones you are eligible for. Consider asking the staff in the financial aid office about scholarships for extracurricular activities, such as awards for excellence in sports or volunteer work. Keep in mind that a lot of schools may not offer aid packages and donor-based scholarships to first-year overseas students, but do so later, based on student performance and other additional eligibility requirements.

United Kingdom

The United Kingdom college tuition fees are generally lower than those in the United States. The average annual cost to study as an international undergraduate student in the UK is approximately GBP 12,000 (USD 15,872). Though there is a cap of GBP 9,000 for local student (UK/EU citizens) tuition in the UK, keep in mind there is none on international student fees.

The United Kingdom offers merit and need-based financial assistance to international students, though there are fewer options in the UK as compared to the United States, especially for undergraduate programs. It is still good planning, however, to search for and apply for the scholarships, grants and other financial aid options available to you in the UK and from your own home country.

SchoolApply's expert advisors will help you narrow down your options based on your budget

Learn More

Having said this, it is important to factor in that the duration of study in the UK is shorter than in most other countries. A typical undergraduate degree in the UK will run for three years as opposed to four years in the US and other countries. A Master’s Degree program is usually for only one year in the UK while other countries offer two-year programs. With shorter programs on offer, studying in the UK can definitely have financial advantages.   


Canada is another popular destination for international students who aspire to earn their academic degrees abroad. Canada’s university tuition fees are typically less expensive than in the United States and the United Kingdom. International undergraduate students in Canada can expect to pay an average annual tuition of CAD 14,000. Canadian university fees vary by province and according to the type of program you are studying. According to Statistics Canada, undergraduate students studying dentistry, medicine, pharmacy and law in Canada pay the highest average tuition.  

International students hoping to study in Canada can apply for many financial aid options such as scholarships, grants and bursaries offered by each university, the Canadian government and other public and private organizations.   

If you think that you may not be able to finance your own education in Canada, explore some of these scholarship options:

  • IDRC Research Awards: These Awards, offered by the International Development Research Centre (IDRC) in Canada, are a one-year paid program for research carried out in one or more developing countries. Citizens of developing countries interested in pursuing or have completed postgraduate or doctoral studies are eligible to apply. Selected candidates are trained in research management through hands-on experience within their chosen program and also work under the mentorship of a program officer.
  • Anne Vallée Ecological Fund: The Anne Vallée Ecological Fund (AVEF) offers two 1,500 CAD scholarships to support students registered in animal research at the master’s or doctoral level in a Québec or British Columbia University. The AVEF is focused on supporting field research in animal ecology, in relation with the impact of human activities such as forestry, industry, agriculture, and fishing. International students are eligible to apply for this scholarship.
  • For undergraduate scholarships, several universities in Canada offer their own individual scholarships for international students. 

Other options to help you pay for university abroad

If you can’t find a scholarship or don’t feel that you are eligible for any financial aid options, consider asking your family for help or taking out a loan. You can always make some extra money with a summer job, or working alongside your studies – this is something that is allowed in Canada. Talk to friends who have studied abroad to find out if they know of any resources you could use to find more scholarships. One such resource is SchoolApply. Thanks to partnerships with universities around the world, including the US, UK and Canada, and with help from our expert advisors, you can pinpoint exactly the schools that offers your program in your desired study abroad destination with a price tag that matches your budget.