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How I Saved $10K As An International Student in the USA

Updated: Apr 23, 2023

Being able to save $10K as an international student in the USA can be just the thing to help you cross the line to graduation. We know paying the bills is difficult, especially when limited scholarships and employment opportunities are available.

Sushant Garg, an international student from India studying at Sacramento State University, was able to save nearly $10K by taking summer classes. By taking summer classes, he paid less in tuition, fees, and insurance and was able to graduate sooner.

In the episode of Let’s Meet For Coffee: Conversations for International Students, Sushant explained exactly why taking summer classes helped him save money and what you need to look for if you want to explore this option.

How I saved $10K as an international student

How Sushant Discovered the $10K Savings

Sushant first graduated with his associate’s degree in business administration from Sierra College in August 2019. He started working as an accounting clerk at a travel agency while on OPT (optional practical training). OPT is what allows international students to legally work in the United States after graduating from a university or college.

Unfortunately, in March 2020, Sushant lost his job because of COVID-19. Many others at the company lost their jobs too.

He immediately started looking for another job, but it was so difficult! Jobs were scarce…and no one would want to hire him with only four months left on OPT.

Sushant had planned to start classes at Sacramento State University after completing his OPT, so he just decided to start classes sooner. He started looking into summer classes and thus…made a huge discovery.

“Whether you are an international student or not, you are charged the same fee.”

In other words, during a normal academic year, most international students in the USA pay a higher tuition rate than domestic students.

But what Sushant discovered is that international students pay exactly the same as domestic students for summer classes at Sacramento State University.

Watch the entire episode here!

Calculating the $10K Savings

The reason why the summer classes cost less than during the regular academic year is that the classes are offered through the College of Continuing Education, where the cost structure is different for classes.

Sushant provides an in-depth look at the cost differences in an article he wrote on Medium.

In summary, by taking eight summer classes Sushant saved $6,200.

He saved an additional $2,800 because he didn’t have to pay any additional fees for taking more credit hours in the summer. (During a regular academic year, if students take more than a certain amount of credit hours, some universities/colleges charge students an additional fee).

And because he was able to take summer classes, he graduated a semester sooner! That saved him an additional $800 for not having to pay for insurance.

That is how Sushant was able to calculate saving $9,909…just $100 short of saving $10,000.

Could You Save Money?

Sushant suggests that if you want to see if taking summer classes could save you money, look into your university’s summer fee pattern. Some universities and colleges will have the same tuition and fees for international students in the summer just like they do during the regular academic year, but others may have something similar to Sacramento State University.

After you research and if you find that your university or college summer courses cost the same as the regular academic year, Sushant suggests you can also look if there are other universities where you can take just summer classes.

For example, Sushant needed an accounting class, but it wasn’t available at Sacramento State University. He took the class at Chico State during the summer and he was still able to save money.

You definitely need to do research and make sure you understand the tuition and fee structure of your university/college. If you end up taking summer classes at another university or college, you need to make sure the credits transfer to your home institution. PLUS, you need to commit to spending your summer studying.

BUT…if you are able to do what Sushant did…just think about the money you could save!

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