Most affordable cities in USA for Indian students

By Cassandra Evangeline Benjamin• Last updated: Mar 15, 2024
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The USA is a popular choice for many potential students in India. The country takes up 30-35% of Indian students choosing a global education.

The promise of a better lifestyle, international experience, exposure to cultures, and the availability of significant opportunities pull students in every year. 202,014 Indian students went to the USA in 2019 alone! 

The USA is generally considered to be an expensive country. The fluctuating exchange rate of the Indian rupee just adds on to the accumulating costs. In spite of this hurdle in living your American dream, you can easily make it by choosing affordable cities with a good education.

Here we have a list of the most affordable US cities, factoring in the cost of living and tuition fee.

1. San Diego

San Diego Beach

Average tuition fee: $15,500  
Average Cost of Living: $1,400 -$2,400 /month

With the low tuition fees and the affordable cost of living, San Diego is a city that goes easy on the students' wallets. It is one of the cheapest places to live.

You can experience a relaxed atmosphere with lots of fun activities and tasty Mexican food. The city also offers high-quality education for over 70,000 students every year. It also ranks #76 for world best student city (QS).

Watching the magnificent sea lions sunbathe, getting lost in the sunsets along the shore and taking long strolls in the Balboa park are some among the many things you can do for free. Have fun and save money.

Top Universities in San Diego

  • University of California
  • San Diego
  • San Diego State University 
  • Ashford University
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2. Baltimore

Average tuition fee: $21,500  
Average Cost of Living: $1,100-$2,000 /month

Baltimore is a city full of charm. The city has more monuments per capita than any other US city, which you can make your mission to visit all.

It is also home to the second-largest seaport in the country, something you cannot miss. The educational quality is also top-notch. Asserting this claim, it has been ranked #5 for education and opportunity and is among the top 10 best student cities in the US (US News and World Reports).

The city is also home to some of the cheapest universities for international students in 2020. 

Top Universities in Baltimore

3. Atlanta


Average tuition fee: $27,100  
Average Cost of Living: 1,200-2,200 USD/month

Atlanta is another affordable student favourite and has ranked #57 in the world best student city ranking (QS).

Over 16,000 international students study in Atlanta every academic year. The placement opportunity and industry exposure are also high as the city houses many major corporations like Porsche, CNN, Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Philips, Coca Cola, and AT&T Mobility.

There are many activities you can pursue to blow off some steam. You can visit museums, music venues, theatre and art galleries. You can also hike in the mountains to get your heart going and spend time in nature. 

Top Universities in Atlanta

  • Georgia State University
  • Clark Atlanta University
  • Georgia Institute of Technology

4. Philadelphia


Average tuition fee: $29,900  
Average Cost of Living: $800-$1,300 /month

Next on the list is ‘the University City’. Philadelphia has the second-largest number of universities in the USA.

The city is ranked #8 in the US for best student city ranking (QS). Philadelphia is also the first world heritage city, so you will have many historically significant places to explore and enjoy.

12% of the city’s student population also consists of international students. 

Another positive is the city’s location. It is two hours away from the city of New York and 3 hours away from Washington, DC. This can come in handy for quick weekend getaways, short internships and projects.

Top Universities in Philadelphia

  • University of Pennsylvania
  • Drexel University
  • Temple University
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5. Houston


Average tuition fee: $29,800  
Average Cost of Living: $1,000-$2,000 /month

Houston is the 4th largest city in the country and is #2 for having a greater number of fortune 500 companies.

The city is very inclusive and stands proud among the cheapest cities in the USA for international students. In its total population of over 6 million, 1.5 million are foreigners.

The city offers many attractions like the Museum of Fine Arts, Galleria-area Water Wall and Downtown Aquarium. You can keep a checklist of these places to tick them off every weekend. 

Houston is also known as the Space city as it is the home of the NASA Space Centre. This makes the city very apt to study top courses like Engineering, Physics, Astrophysics and high-level Mathematics.

Top Universities in Houston

  • Houston Baptist University
  • North American University
  • University of Houston Downtown

6. Chicago


Average tuition fee: $30,800  
Average Cost of Living: $1,300 to $2,500 /month

Fondly known as the “Jewel of the Midwest”, Chicago has many things to offer.

The dashing skyline of the city will give you a metropolitan vibe with costs falling below the US national average. 

The city also ranks in the top 10 student cities for overall student experience.

No wonder 18% of the city’s total population is made up of international students!  It is one of the best cities to live in the USA for Indian students. 

If you do not want to let that cash slip out of your wallets while exploring the city, you can always check out the many free attractions of the city like Lake Michigan, the Millennium Park and the Lincoln Park Zoo. 

Top Universities in Chicago

  • University of Illinois Chicago
  • University of Chicago
  • Northwest University

7. Miami


Average tuition fee: $30,800  
Average Cost of Living: $1,500-$3,000 /month

Miami happens to offer top-quality global education alongside flashy vacations and epic beaches. The city falls in the top 100 best student cities in the world (QS). Alongside education, it also offers a diverse cultural experience with strong Hispanic and African-American cultures. 

Miami has top employment options in many industries, including tourism, creative design, banking, finance and IT.

So, irrespective of your subject area, you are going to have many opportunities to do internships and part-time jobs alongside your education. Its year-round tropical climate is a sweet add on.

Studying in the USA is now simple
Explore top universities and get free expert guidance with Edvoy

Top Universities in Miami

  • Florida International University
  • University of Miami
  • Barry University

8. Dallas


Average tuition fee: $31,700  
Average Cost of Living: $1,000-$2,000 /month

Dallas is the 9th largest US city and a good option for international students. You can also enjoy wide varieties of food options in the city.

There are more restaurants per capita in Dallas than New York City! This means you are going to have an array of tasty food to choose from in every corner of the city.

The city's DART (Dallas Area Rapid Transit) makes getting to these restaurants and other hangout spots easy and cost-effective. 

Part-time job opportunities and employment after graduation are also strong because of top brands like 7-Eleven, JCPenney, Frito-Lay and Texas Instruments that call this city their home. 

Top Universities in Dallas

  • The University of Texas Dallas
  • University of Dallas
  • Southern Methodist University

9. Boston


Average tuition fee: $34,800
Average Cost of Living: $1,500-$3,000 /month

Boston houses over 100 universities with a rough student population of 250,000. 21% of this student population is made up of international students. The city ranks 12th in the World student city ranking index (QS) due to its quality of education and its vibrant nature. 

The top universities in the city are also generous in student aid and scholarships. Most universities offer complete and partial merit-based scholarships for international students. You can apply for these scholarships in the first steps of your application process. 

It is also important to note that Boston holds the 2nd place for the best city in the world for recruiting university graduates (QS).

Top Universities in Boston

  • MIT
  • Harvard University
  • Boston University
  • UMASS Boston

10. Pittsburgh


Average tuition fee: $37,000  
Average Cost of Living: $1,200-$2,000 /month

Pittsburgh offers education through its top universities and a chance to wander through its 446 bridges. By compensating its high tuition fee with its low cost of living, it manages to stay as one of the cheapest cities in the USA. 

Technology, health care, robotics, engineering, biomedical and finance are some of the core areas of the city's education and employment. Many prestigious brands, including Google, Apple, Bosch, Disney, Uber, and IBM, have their offices here.

You can reach other major cities like New York, Boston, Washington, DC, Chicago and Toronto in a day’s drive from Pittsburgh. This comes in handy for trips and short placements.

Top Universities in Pittsburgh

  • Carnegie Mellon University
  • University of Pittsburgh
  • Carlow University

10 Best city to live in USA for Indian students

S NoCitiesAverage tuition feeAverage Cost of Living
1San Diego$15,500$1,400 - $2,400 /month
2Baltimore$21,500$1,100 - $2,000 /month
3Atlanta$27,100$1,200 - $2,200 /month
4Philadelphia $29,900$800 - $1,300 /month
5Houston$29,800$1,000 - $2,000 /month
6Chicago$30,800$1,300 - $2,500 /month
7Miami$30,800$1,500 - $3,000 /month
8Dallas$31,700$1,000 - $2,000 /month
9Boston$34,800$1,500 - $3,000 /month
10Pittsburgh$37,000$1,200 - $2,000 /month

Some tips to keep your expense on the lower end:

  • Choose on-campus meal plans as many universities provide complete meals at lower costs.
  • Do your shopping at cheaper supermarkets like Wal-Mart, Target, Costco, Trader Joe’s.
  • Most cities in the USA give student passes at a subsidised rate for public transportation. Don’t forget to apply for one. 
  • Always make sure you have some safety cash set aside for emergencies.

Choosing the right city can make a huge difference in your educational experience abroad. With the right city, proper planning, and budgeting, you are sure to have a fantastic time studying in the USA.

To get a sneak peek into financial assistance through scholarships, go ahead and read, top scholarships in the USA.

Also read: Cheapest countries to study abroad

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