5 Most Expensive Cities in the USA to Study In

A view of Manhattan's downtown (all the skyscrapers, grey cloudy sky) from the rock formation in Central Park. A young couple with their backs to the camera point at the skyscrapers.

If you want to attend one of the best colleges or universities in the United States, you can expect to pay more in tuition than in other areas of the country. According to Student.com’s annual Global Student Accommodation Indicator report, the following are 2019’s most expensive cities in the USA to study in. So, if you’re looking to minimize your study budget, these locations might not be right for you. However, the study opportunities in these cities might be worth the cost!

Despite reports that student enrollments, state-by-state, are declining, the United States remains a popular study destination for international students. Over 1,000,000 students from around the world live and study in the US. In fact, the United States has the world’s largest international student population! One of the main reasons for the country’s popularity is its large number of world-class universities and colleges. The US has one of the world’s finest university systems, with excellent programs in hundreds of fields. With at least ten times as many campuses as any other country, the United States has no shortage of opportunities. Of course, among thousands of universities, some stand out more than others.

Looking for student budgeting strategies? We’ve got you.

San Diego

Image Credit: Adobe Stock

San Diego

Located in Southern California near the border with Mexico, San Diego hosts the largest naval fleet in the world. San Diego has also emerged as a major healthcare and biotechnology development centre, making the city a popular study destination. In particular, the University of California – San Diego ranks high internationally thanks to its reputation as a major research centre. However, with average rent for a one bedroom apartment at US$1,870 per month, San Diego is far from being a cheap place to live. Students can expect to pay an average of US$275 per week in rent, which is significantly higher than the national average of US$214.

Learn more about colleges and universities in San Diego.


Providence may sit far below some other US cities in average living costs, but it sure is expensive for students! Located in the small eastern state of Rhode Island, Providence is one of the oldest cities in the United States. The city would likely be cheaper for students if it wasn’t for Brown University, an Ivy League school that ranks among America’s best. Providence offers alternatives, however, including Johnson & Wales University and Rhode Island College. Overall, Providence has a lot to offer students, but it comes with a steep average weekly rent of US$278, making it one of the most expensive cities in the USA to study in.

To learn more about schools in Providence, click here.

A high-vantage view of Seattle, Washington - a large coastal city at dusk with city streets and buildings lit up.

Image Credit: Diego Delso, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons


One of the gems of the Pacific Northwest, Seattle is a popular study hub for international students. Unfortunately, the city’s beautiful scenery and diverse career options come at a cost. According to Student.com’s findings, students in Seattle pay an average weekly rent of US$281, making Seattle the fifth most expensive city in the world for students. While costly, the city does offer a lot. In addition to great institutions like Northeastern University, Seattle has a ton of things to do and see. From live music to stunning hiking spots, students can access many fun activities outside the classroom. Still, make sure you budget accordingly!

To learn more about schools in Seattle, click here.

A view of Manhattan's downtown (all the skyscrapers, grey cloudy sky) from the rock formation in Central Park. A young couple with their backs to the camera point at the skyscrapers.

Image Credit: Roberto Nickson rpnickson, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

New York

No surprise here: New York City is one of America’s most expensive places to live. While it depends on where you live (a Manhattan apartment will cost more than one in Queens, for example), average weekly rent is still US$402 per week. New York City’s high rent makes it the second most expensive study location in the world, but its schools are hard to beat. Over 600,000 students are enrolled in NYC’s higher education schools–the most in the United States. There are also more than 120 colleges and universities to choose from, including Columbia University, Pace University, and the Juilliard School. Whether or not you’re a student, New York City is a very desirable place to live, and that privilege comes at a high cost.

To learn more about schools in New York, click here.

A harbour view of Boston (a large city with port buildings, skyscrapers, sailboats in the harbour) under a bright blue sky.

Image Credit: Bob Linsdell, CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons


Boston, not New York, is the most expensive US city to study in. In fact, with an average weekly rent of US$464, student rent in Boston is the highest in the world! For many international students, Boston is a top choice and it’s easy to see why. Boston and its surrounding area is home to some of the top ranked universities in the world. Harvard, MIT, and Tufts form the Brainpower Triangle, and all three campuses are located just outside of Boston. All of these schools are highly competitive, especially for international students. Fortunately, there are more than 100 colleges and universities in the Greater Boston area, so it isn’t lacking for choice. Overall, Boston is easily one of the best cities in the world to study in. However, it’s also the most expensive city in the US for students, so start saving now if you want to study abroad there!

To learn more about schools in Boston, click here.

Still interested in studying in one of the most expensive cities in the USA?

Start your free account with ApplyBoard. We’ll support you from application to arrival.


The most important stories in international education, backed by data