Stilt Inc.
Jul 26, 2016 · 5 min read

When that letter of acceptance arrived from the school of your dreams in the United States, never in the life of you did you imagine that it would come with so many price tags. Granted, there are some obvious ones, like the hefty price of US college education and paying for flight tickets from your home country, but what about some of the hidden ones like… the one-month rental deposit for that shared bedroom that you have finally found after sifting through hundreds of listing on Craigslist?

Moving to a different country, especially the US, for college/university can involve forking out large sums of money upfront. Most of the time, the expenses could catch you off guard. Some of them might come in a relatively small amount (starting from a couple of hundreds of dollars), but when all of them came at the same time (normally in the beginning of your studies), they could stretch your already thinning budget.

But the good news is, which most people are not aware of, you can get a loan to cover these expenses!

To help plan for your finances better, our team at STILT has compiled a list of some of the unexpected expenses that you would incur especially at the start of your studies. This is not an exhaustive list, but it should give you a good idea of what could stumble you financially in the midst of moving to a whole new country and adjusting to a new life far away from home.



If you are a full-time student at a US university/college, you will most likely be getting an F1 visa. Regardless of your visa approval status, each student needs to pay a non-refundable visa application fee of USD 160.



Depending on where you are going in the US, you may be lucky to secure your accommodation before you arrive. However, a lot of people find themselves still house-hunting for a period of time even after they arrive in the US, and it may take them a week or two before finding a place to live. If you are lucky you may be able to bunk in with a friend, but a lot of people would need to book a hotel or an Airbnb room for that period. The average price per night for Airbnb could be from USD 50- USD 200 depending on the city. New York City is expensive for temporary accommodation. You may need USD 500- USD 2,000 of these unforeseen expenses while you look for an apartment.



Whether you are staying on- or off-campus, chances are you would need to pay one month’s worth, or sometimes more, of security deposits, along with your first month’s rent. In major cities, it is difficult to find a good accommodation close to campus that is reasonable and needs lower deposits. Based on the average rent in different states, the deposits can be anywhere from USD 500- USD 4,000. If you are sharing an apartment with roommates, everyone can pitch in to cover the total costs.

Read our guide for international students to find housing



Do not underestimate the cost of textbooks. Although there are ways to reduce this, e.g. by buying secondhand textbooks or renting them, a study done in 2014 has shown that students spend on average USD 1,200 per year on textbooks and school supplies.



Apart from the tuition fees, most universities would require you to pay other fees at the start of the academic year. The various fees can range from less than USD 10 to more than USD 1,000, depending on the type of fees and which programs you are enrolled in. When added up, these can be pretty significant. This is an example of such fee schedule from UC Berkeley.

Read tips and hacks from an international student to save money



Having an insurance is a must when you are studying in the US on an F1 visa. Some universities will automatically enroll you to their campus health insurance programs while others will allow you to opt in to their student health insurance plan. The premiums are generally paid every semester or annually and may vary depending on your age or whether you are an undergraduate or graduate student. This is an example of insurance premium schedule for international students from University of Wisconsin-Madison, which shows that a student aged 25 and below would need to pay an insurance premium fee of USD 1,320 annually.



The US is not well-known for its efficient public transportation system. If you are lucky and live close to campus you may get by with walking or cycling to class. However, if you live slightly further out, you may need to have a car to get around. This translates to a few thousand dollars more in terms of expenses if you decide to get a secondhand car.

Here at Stilt, we strive to make it simple for international students like you to get a loan and make your transition to living in the US much smoother. We give lower interest rates than any other lender, and you can use our loan to alleviate some of your financial burden and focus on what is important: your education.

Visit our website to find out how you can get a loan cheaply and quickly.

About Stilt:

Stilt provides loans to international people in the U.S. at rates lower than any other lender. Visit us at If you have any questions, send us an email at


financial services for immigrants

Stilt Inc.

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financial services for immigrants