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The Myth of Expensive American Education

university-studentsWhen it comes time for students and parents to research global universities for undergraduate study, families in Dubai typically look to the UK, US, Canada, Australia, and Singapore. While American universities continue to dominate the global rankings lists, many families choose to apply exclusively to British universities, because they are perceived to be less expensive, particularly for international students, than their American counterparts. In many cases, this is not true and, increasingly, pursuing an undergraduate education in the US is less costly than the same course of study in the UK.

According to a recent study by HSBC, Australia is the most expensive destination for overseas students, with a total cost of attendance exceeding $38,000 per year, followed by the US at $35,000 and the UK at approximately $30,000 per year, respectively. Since the onset of the financial crisis, annual university tuition fees in the UK have nearly tripled for international students. British universities are funded primarily by the government, while American universities are funded through donations made by alumni, which allow the latter to offer considerable merit and need based aid. The wealthiest fifteen universities in the US have eliminated loans for all students – American and international alike – and have a strong commitment to funding all accepted students, regardless of ability to pay. At Harvard for example, no undergraduate pays more than a nominal contribution if their parents earn less than $65,000 per annum and, for families earning up to $150,000 per year, students are only required to pay 10% of their family’s annual income in tuition. Smaller, less selective institutions also offer significant merit aid to international students, allowing them to subsidize their education considerably, and high achieving students at all American universities are always considered for merit based aid, regardless of family income.

The comparative wealth of American universities means not only can tuition be heavily subsidized through grants and other forms of aid, but that available resources – particularly at its private universities – translate into superior research facilities, libraries, dormitories, lecture halls, and career-related services. The US remains the top destination for the world’s leading academics, because American universities pay the highest salaries to attract the best and brightest in their respective fields and continue to offer unparalleled support for research. There is also a greater emphasis on holistic development of the individual in the US, through participation in extracurricular activities, internships, speaker series, and performing arts that is not present in British universities, which focus primarily on tuition and academic learning.

When considering cost, take into consideration what, exactly, you are paying for and not only the sticker price of tuition, but the experience you will receive. American universities continue to offer both generous funding and a solid return on investment, based on a flexible curriculum and philosophy of personal development. If you are considering universities in the US, Carian College Advisors in Dubai offers comprehensive guidance from American consultants who have both graduate from US universities and relevant admissions experience. For more information, visit or contact their office at +971-4-338-8658 or

Article courtesy of Carian College Advisors


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