20 Cheapest Universities in USA for International Students

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Studying in an esteemed place like USA can be expensive, so to make a cost-friendly decision, we provided not just a list of the cheapest universities in USA for international students, but also some information on them.

Financial aids are available in most universities and international students are eligible to work part-time on or off-campus during their studies. However, there are restrictions, and students should be aware of the guidelines set by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

In the next section, we will be looking at the reasons why you should study in USA, there are tons of them.

Let’s get started.

Why Study in USA?

US universities have a strong international reputation due to their well-funded and supported institutions, high academic standards, and rigorous requirements.

US universities attract students from around the world and they continuously work to improve their education to prepare them for careers.

US universities provide excellent support facilities, such as workshops, English-language practice courses, orientations, and training, to help prepare international students for their classes.

US universities also offer opportunities for graduates from STEM fields to stay in the US for 24 months to gain work experience and extend their stay.

Basic Requirements to Study in USA for International Students

Below is a list of the basic requirements to study in the USA for international students:

  • Academic transcripts
  • Proof of English language proficiency
  • Personal statement
  • Letters of recommendation
  • Copy of passport

List of the Cheapest Universities in USA for International Students

Below is a list of the cheapest universities for international students:

Cheapest Universities in USA for International Students

1. City University of New York

  • Founded: 1847
  • Location: New York City, New York, United States

CUNY, or The City University of New York, is a public university in New York City.

It has over 200,000 students enrolled and offers more than 100 degree programs at all levels of education. CUNY is known for its diversity and offers programs in over 40 different languages. The annual tuition fee is $2,874.

2. University of the People

  • Founded: 2009
  • Location: Pasadena, California, United States

University of the People is a prestigious online university that aims to provide education to everyone. It was founded in 2012 by President Obama and is the first tuition-free university in the world.

The university offers a wide range of courses for students of all ages and backgrounds. In addition to its Bachelor’s degree programs, the university also offers Master’s programs in Computer Science and Information Technology.

Students can enroll in any program they wish on the website at any time during their enrollment at the school. The university charges tuition fees only once per year and covers all expenses including books and housing costs for students who live within commuting distance from campus.

3. The California State University

  • Founded: 1857
  • Location: Long Beach, California, United States

The California State University system is home to 23 campuses, including California State University-San Marcos.

The university offers a variety of undergraduate majors in fields such as Business Administration, Computer Science and Engineering, Health Science, Human Development and Family Studies, Liberal Arts, Mathematics and Physical Sciences, Psychology, and Social Sciences.

Additionally, the university has two master’s programs: one in Counseling Psychology and one in Human Resources Management. California State University-San Marcos is known for being one of the most affordable universities in the United States for international students, with a tuition fee of $12,000 per year.

The university has a 100% transfer rate from other colleges and universities and offers several different scholarships for international students.

4. Alcorn State University, Mississippi

  • Founded: 1871
  • Location: Lorman, Mississippi, U.S

Alcorn State University is a public university located in Lorman, Mississippi. It was founded in 1871 as the Agricultural and Mechanical College for Negroes and became an all-black school in 1890.

The university’s main campus is situated on a site that was once part of the James and Althea Davis plantation. Alcorn State University has been ranked as one of the top 100 public universities in the United States by US News & World Report.

The university offers more than 50 top-degree programs and has produced many successful alumni in various fields such as education, medicine, law, business, and professional athletics.

5. Minot State University, North Dakota

  • Founded: 1913
  • Location: Minot, North Dakota, United States

Minot State University in North Dakota is a great option for international students looking for affordable universities in the US.

The university has around 16,000 students, most of whom are from outside of North Dakota.

The university offers various degree programs, including BA, BFA, and BS degrees, as well as a minor in art.

6. South Texas College

  • Founded: 1993
  • Location: McAllen and Rio Grande Valley, Texas, United States

South Texas College is a public institution that offers undergraduate and graduate degrees, as well as certificate programs. It was founded in 1993 and is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.

The college has six campuses and serves approximately 31,000 students. The main campus is located in McAllen, Texas, with other campuses in Weslaco, Rio Grande City, and more.

The college offers a wide range of programs, including Bachelor of Applied Technology, Associate of Applied Science, Associate of Arts, and Associate of Science degrees. The college also offers online and on-campus programs for career certificates.

7. Cooper Union NY

  • Founded: 1859
  • Location: 7 E 7th St Fl 3, New York, NY, 10003

Cooper Union is a private college located in New York City’s East Village. It was founded in 1859 by Peter Cooper, a merchant, and philanthropist, to promote the “advancement of science and art”.

The institution offers undergraduate degrees in art, architecture, and engineering, as well as graduate degrees in business administration and public administration. The college is known for its academic excellence, creative curriculum, and unique approach to education.

The undergraduate program is highly selective, and every admitted student receives a half-tuition scholarship as well as need-based aid. The college’s tuition fee for both undergraduate and graduate programs is $7,300 per semester for full-time students.

Here are the undergraduate degree programs offered at Cooper Union:

  • Business
  • Computer Science and Engineering
  • Fine Arts
  • Architecture and Design
  • Theatre Arts and Performance Studies
  • Design Media Arts Technology (DMA)
  • Visual Arts and Media Arts (VAM)
  • Music Performance (MFA)
  • Dance (MFA)

8. San Mateo College of Silicon Valley

  • Location: San Mateo, California, United States

San Mateo College of Silicon Valley is a two-year college located in San Francisco, California. It was established in 1959 and provides both on-campus and online classes.

The school’s programs are tailored to students who aspire to work in the computer industry but may not be prepared for a four-year university.

The college has an enrollment of approximately 3,000 students, with an equal distribution of 50% women and 50% men. Most of the students at this college are from California and other nearby states such as Washington, Oregon, and Nevada.

9. Manhattanville College

  • Founded: 1841
  • Location: Purchase, New York, United States

Manhattanville College is a private liberal arts college situated in Purchase, New York. It was established in 1855 as Purchase Female Seminary and was later renamed Manhattanville Seminary in 1872. In 1928, it was renamed Manhattan College.

The college’s mission is to provide its students with a quality education and prepare them for life and work after graduation.

Manhattanville College has seven schools:

  • The School of Graduate Studies (SGS)
  • School of Professional Studies (SPS)
  • School of Liberal Arts (SLA)
  • School of Business Administration (SBA)
  • School of Education (SE)
  • School of Nursing (SN)
  • The School of Law (SL)

10. Hillsborough Community College

  • Founded: 1968
  • Location: Tampa, Florida

Hillsborough Community College is a public community college located in Florida.

It offers a wide range of undergraduate and graduate-level programs, including art and design, business administration, computer sciences, education, engineering, and architecture. The college also provides many online courses for students who prefer working from home.

Hillsborough Community College is situated in Tampa Bay, Florida, which is known for its beautiful beaches, museums, and cultural events. The college is committed to providing affordable education to its students, and it offers more than 200 academic options with small class sizes.

If you’re interested in applying to Hillsborough Community College, you can visit their website to learn more about the admission process and the programs they offer.

11. Sonoma State University

  • Founded: 1960
  • Location: Rohnert Park, California

Sonoma State University is a public institution situated in Rohnert Park, California. The university provides both undergraduate and graduate programs, with over 150 bachelor’s degrees and seven master’s degrees to choose from.

It was established in 1946 and has an enrollment of approximately 8,000 students. The university is renowned for its programs in the arts, technology, and engineering, and offers a wide range of courses in business management, biology, communications studies, and sociology.

The school also provides several independent study options and many different types of internships on-campus or off-campus through the university’s partnership with local businesses and organizations around town.

12. Arkansas State University

  • Founded: 1909
  • Location: Jonesboro, Arkansas

Arkansas State University is a public university located in Jonesboro, Arkansas, USA. It was established in 1871 as the Agricultural and Mechanical College of Arkansas.

The university is part of the University of Arkansas System, which also includes Arkansas State University at Monticello and the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. With an enrollment of approximately 27,000 students, it is the largest university in the state of Arkansas.

The main campus, which has about 48 buildings, is situated on roughly 500 acres of land in Jonesboro. The university also has a satellite campus in Pine Bluff, which had about 7,000 students enrolled during its last academic year (2018).

Arkansas State University offers over 100 majors for bachelor’s degrees and graduate degrees through 11 different schools, including nursing, business administration, and engineering.

13. Southeast Missouri State University

  • Founded: 1873
  • Location: Cape Girardeau, Missouri, United States

Southeast Missouri State University is a popular choice among international students due to its affordable tuition and high-quality education.

The university’s mission is to prepare students for successful lives by providing them with knowledge, professional experience, and civic responsibility. Southeast Missouri State University offers over 100 undergraduate majors and minors in various fields, with a strong focus on sciences and engineering.

The university also offers many graduate programs for those who want to earn advanced degrees.

Many international students choose Southeast Missouri State University because they want an affordable education that will prepare them for a successful career after graduation.

The university has several academic departments that offer programs of study that can be completed within three years or less.

14. Bradley University

  • Founded: 1897
  • Location: Peoria, Illinois, United States

Bradley University, established in 1857, is the oldest private university in Illinois. It is situated in Peoria, Illinois, and has a student population of approximately 6,700.

The university offers over 185 academic programs across five colleges, including business, communications, education, engineering, fine and performing arts, health sciences, liberal arts and sciences, and technology.

Bradley University provides several scholarships for international students to attend their programs.

The university also offers a variety of student housing options for those who want to live on-campus as well as off-campus locations nearby where students can live with other Bradley students.

15. Ashland University

  • Founded: 1878
  • Location: Ashland, Ohio

Ashland University is a private university located in Ashland, Ohio. It was established in 1844 as the Western Reserve Eclectic Institute by a group of prominent citizens of northeastern Ohio who aimed to provide education for their community.

The school’s name was changed to Ashland University in 1948 when it became an independent university. Today, Ashland University is one of the largest private universities in Ohio with a total enrollment of 6,000 students.

Ashland University offers a variety of educational paths at the associate, bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral levels. The university has a low student-to-faculty ratio of 13:1, which ensures that students receive individual attention and mentoring to succeed.

Ashland University provides financial aid to eligible students and has a job placement rate of 86% post-graduation.

16. Bellevue University

  • Founded: 1966
  • Location: Bellevue, Nebraska

Bellevue University is a private university situated in Bellevue, Washington, USA. It was established in 2009 and provides both undergraduate and graduate programs.

The university has a student body of around 3,000 students. Bellevue University is also known as BUE or Bellevue University Online. It has two campuses: one in Seattle and the other in Bellevue, WA, which is approximately 30 miles from downtown Seattle.

The university offers bachelor’s, master’s, and PhD degrees.

17. Westcliff University

  • Founded: 1993
  • Location: Irvine, California, U.S

Westcliff University is a private institution located in Westcliff-on-Sea, Essex. It was founded in 1965 as a college and later became a university in 1992.

The university offers a wide range of Bachelor’s degrees in fields such as Business Management, Law, Computing, Creative Arts and Sciences, Engineering, and Applied Science.

The university has over 10,000 students enrolled in both undergraduate and postgraduate programs. Westcliff University has a strong emphasis on business, management, and global studies, with courses offered in 13 different languages.

18. Pace University

  • Founded: December 14, 1906
  • Location: New York, New York, United States

Pace University is a private university situated in White Plains, New York. It is renowned for providing high-quality education and has been acknowledged by U.S. News & World Report as one of the top-tier universities in the United States.

The university offers a wide range of courses and concentrations to choose from, including business, dance, engineering, health sciences, and more.

Pace University has two campuses in New York: one in New York City and the other in Westchester County.

The Westchester campus is located in the heart of White Plains and offers a quintessential campus experience, a stone’s throw from Westchester’s Fortune 500 companies and budding start-up scene.

The New York City campus is located in the Financial District of Lower Manhattan, offering students access to Wall Street and the downtown arts scene.

19. Metropolitan State University (Minnesota)

  • Founded: 1971
  • Location: St. Paul, Minneapolis, and Brooklyn Park, Minnesota, U.S.

Metropolitan State University is a public university located in Saint Paul, Minnesota. It was established in 1857 as the Minnesota State Normal School, which was the first public normal school in the United States.

In 1994, the school was renamed Metropolitan State University to reflect its current status as a comprehensive urban university with campuses across Minneapolis and Saint Paul.

The university offers more than 50 areas of study to both traditional and nontraditional students, including:

  • Business administration
  • Counseling
  • Education and teaching
  • Engineering
  • Health Sciences
  • Human services
  • Law enforcement and justice studies
  • Library science
  • Liberal arts and sciences
  • Music therapy
  • Nursing administration and management
  • Physical therapy practice management
  • Psychology (bachelor’s only)
  • Social work (master’s only)
  • Speech-language pathology (master’s only)
  • Web design
  • Multimedia (master’s).

20. Trine University

  • Founded: 1884
  • Location: Angola, Indiana

Trine University is a private university located in Angola, Indiana, with education centers in Detroit and Phoenix.

Trine University is known for its engineering programs and offers more than 50 fields of study, including engineering, business, health sciences, and psychology. The university has a history of regional accreditation and a national reputation for its engineering programs.

Trine University is committed to providing students with a well-rounded education that prepares them for success in their chosen careers. The university’s focus on experiential learning and small class sizes ensures that students receive individualized attention and hands-on experience.

Trine University is also known for its vibrant student life and offers a wide range of extracurricular activities, including athletics, music, and performing arts.

FAQs on the Cheapest Universities in USA for International Students

Can I work while studying at these universities to support my expenses?

Some universities allow international students to work part-time on-campus, but there are usually restrictions. Check the specific regulations and opportunities at your chosen university.

Do these universities offer programs in various fields of study?

Yes, the universities on our list offer a wide range of academic programs. Research each university to ensure they offer the specific program you're interested in.

What's the best way to make the most of my experience as an international student in the USA?

Engage with your university community, explore cultural opportunities, and consider networking and internships to enhance your overall educational experience.

Can I transfer to a more expensive university later if I start at one of these affordable institutions?

Yes, many students choose to transfer to other universities after completing a certain number of credits.


In case you are wondering, the list of universities above offers affordable education, so do so without compromising on quality.

We’ve come to the end of this article, let us know which university caught your fancy.

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