Did you know that you can study in the United States without spending a fortune? I’m talking about a maximum of $15,000 a year including room and board!
Contrary to what many think, there are different scholarships and very cheap alternatives that will allow you to study in this incredible country at a low cost in several of its best colleges and universities.
So, if you want to know more, stay because below you will know:
- The CHEAPEST way to study in the United States
- What are the scholarships to which you can apply
- And how to work and extend your stay in this country.
Let us begin!
Community College vs University
In the United States, as in several other Latin American countries, there are different types of study that you can do after graduating from college.
On the one hand, there are technical studies that last 2 years and on the other hand, there are university studies that last 4 years.
And as in many of our countries, in the United States, technical studies can lead to a university degree since the 2 years of study in a community college are completely homologated by different universities in that country.
This means that when you finish your technical studies at a community college, you will only have to study 2 years at a university to leave with a professional degree.
In fact, that is something that many people do to get away with a professional degree at a lower investment since community colleges cost 5 times less than any university and are also very well ranked academically.
For example, these are the total annual average prices according to the type of institution (includes accommodation, food, and other living expenses):
- Community College: between $ 19,000 USD and $ 26,000 USD
- State University: between $ 26,000 USD and $ 42,000 USD
- Private University: between $ 42,000 USD and $ 75,000 USD
But like universities in the United States, community colleges also offer very generous scholarships and discounts to international students to increase cultural diversity and thus improve their positions in the rankings.
This causes the prices to study in the United States to be radically reduced.
Finally, the entrance requirements to a community college tend to be less demanding than those of a university. In addition, universities in the USA prefer people with technical studies to recent college graduates.
Thus, in the end, it is not only cheaper and cheaper to study at a community college, but also those studies will help you to be admitted to the university of your dreams in the United States.
The cheapest way to study in the USA
Since you know the advantages of studying at a Community College and that the degree obtained will help you later obtain your professional degree, now I want to share our recommendation of college and university so that you invest as little as possible without sacrificing academic quality.
It is the pathway or academic route that begins at Snow College and ends at Northwest Missouri State University.
Remember, you would do the first 2 years at community college and the final 2 at university to obtain your university degree.
This community college located in the city of Ephraim in the state of Utah, was founded in 1988 and is ranked # 8 on the list of the best 1,200 community colleges in the United States.
Snow College has about 5,200 students, several of which are of more than 40 nationalities.
Price: 19,000 USD per year, which includes your studies, food, accommodation, medical insurance, and books and supplies.
You can study: More than 70 university degrees in any area of knowledge.
Scholarships: You will be eligible for a generous $ 5,000 scholarship.
That is, the price per year to study at Snow College will be 14,000 USD or 1,160 USD per month with food and accommodation included.
Requirements to apply for the scholarship:
- Notes of more than 75% of the maximum grade in your baccalaureate/secondary (in the case of Colombia, an average of 3.8 out of 5.0).
- Have a history of social or community work activities.
And the best of all is not only that, since if you are a high-performance athlete, or have some artistic or extracurricular skills, you can count on additional scholarships
Advantages of the IB Diploma: The International Baccalaureate is one of the best educational programs for students aged 16 to 19, and is also recognized by several international universities.
So, if you have this diploma, regardless of the grade with which you finished your studies, you can homologate a whole year at Snow College, that is, you would only have to study one year at this Community College before going to university.
English classes: And if you don’t know English, don’t worry. Before starting your studies, you can take a course in this language at Snow College.
Northwest Missouri State University
State university located in the state of Missouri, central United States. It offers 127 undergraduate and 40 graduate programs, and it is also one of the cheapest institutions in this country.
Price: 27,000 USD per year with everything included.
Scholarships: 35% discount. This means that in the end, you would pay USD 17,500 per year.
Also, if you decide to live off-campus, you can save $ 3,500 per year, so studying at this university will cost $ 14,000 per year ($ 1,160 per month).
That’s how it is! You could pay the same as Community College, but this time you would come out with your professional degree.
Requirements to apply for scholarships:
Have a GPA of 3.5 out of 4.0, that is, have obtained this minimum average in your studies at Snow College, which is quite accessible.
How to work and study in the United States
Studying and working in the United States is totally possible thanks to the F1 visa that you obtain when you are a student of both community college and University.
This visa allows you to work on-campus part-time during your studies (20 hours per week) and full-time on vacation (40 hours per week).
In addition, there are other types of jobs you can apply to:
CPT (Curricular Practical Training)
With this option, you will be able to work on or off-campus in specific areas of your study program after the first year of undergraduate studies, and in the case of postgraduate studies, you will be able to work as soon as you arrive.
That is, if you study biology, you should get a job in this area (and not marketing for example).
This is a type of internship that will offer you credits or specific payment. In the best of cases, it will give you both credits and payment for your work.
It will also allow you to work 20 hours a week part-time, and in vacation time up to 40 hours.
OPT (Optional Practical Training)
After completing your studies at both community college and university, you will be able to obtain an additional permit that allows you to extend your stay in the United States.
This is the OPT that allows international students to work in the US for an initial period of 12 months, with the possibility for STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) students to extend it for another 24 months for a total of 3 years of legal work in the USA!
This opportunity allows you to work full time and unlike CPTs, OPTs are fully paid and allow you to work in any field.
You can request the OPT every time you finish any type of higher study in the United States: technical, bachelor’s (or undergraduate), masters, doctorates, and post-doctorates.
How to finance your studies with work in the United States
In summary, if you do your first two years at a community college, you will be able to work while studying with your CPT, and upon completion, they will allow you to opt for an OPT before entering university.
In this way, you would study 2 years and work an additional one to save the money you need to pay for your university studies.
Then, during university, you could work with a new CPT and at the end opt for a new OPT since university studies and community college studies count as two different types of study and give you that facility.
That is, you could get at least 2 CPTs and 2 OPTs.
Now, to quantify what that means you must understand what you can earn working in the United States and the truth is that it depends on the state. But to continue with our recommendation of Snow College that remains in Utah, there the minimum wage is $ 7.45 USD per hour, that is, about $ 600 USD per month part-time.
That’s about half of what you need to study and live in the United States (remember the prices mentioned above for both community college and state university).
Best of all, working while you study is possible as employers commonly adapt to your curriculum and schedules.
To obtain any of these work permits you can process it directly with your college or university.
TIP: After two weeks of arriving in the United States, you can apply for Social Security, which is a card that will allow you to work legally in that country. Keep in mind that your application may take a few weeks, so have a budget of at least 3 months.