Looking to Study in New York? Get Your Checkbook Ready

Find out what kind of costs you can expect when studying at one of the many colleges in New York.
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Updated on July 18, 2023
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New York is one of the most attractive places to live and study. The state hosts one of the largest selections of schools in the country, including some of the most prestigious and diverse institutions around. Living in the state has much of the same appeal, with New York offering an exciting blend of cultures and diversity.

However, those who live and study in New York pay a price for the desirable location. According to the World Population Review, the cost of living in New York is third-highest in the nation, driven by rising housing and grocery costs. New York college costs are high but a little more balanced.

According to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), tuition rates in private four-year schools and two-year public colleges in New York exceed the national averages, but the tuition rates for four-year public schools are lower. The ever-rising tuition rates stem from deficient education funding and increasing student debts, among other factors.

How Much Does It Cost to Study in New York?

According to the NCES, the average cost of college in New York was $23,875 in public four-year schools, more than 13% higher than the national average. Out-of-state students paid less than the national average in tuition and fees, but they also paid the higher living costs in New York.

Within the state, costs vary by school and location. For example, colleges in New York City typically cost students more to attend than those in rural areas. Online colleges in New York may allow students to attend the city's schools without paying the higher cost of living.


Most states have considerable differences in in-state vs. out-of-state tuition. New York is no exception. As per the NCES, the average tuition for public four-year colleges in New York was $8,467 for in-state students and $22,669 for out-of-state students in 2019-20, a more than 165% difference. Both prices actually come in lower than the national averages.

At two-year public colleges in New York in 2019-20, in-state students paid $5,476 and out-of-state students paid $9,228. While this is smaller than the difference at four-year public schools, students paid more than the national averages in these schools.

Students in New York's private schools also paid more than the national average. The $41,404 average price in tuition and fees in 2019-20 is more than $8,000 higher than the national average.

Tuition Costs in New York
Institution Type Average Cost of Tuition
Public 4-year (in-state) $8,467
Public 4-year (out-of-state) $22,669
Private 4-year $41,404
Public 2-year $5,476
Private 2-year NA
Source: NCES


College fees are lumped in with the tuition costs because they are often mandatory. They may have different names depending on the school, but they regularly cover things like technology, instructional equipment, and student services costs. Other fees might include activities and organizations, recreational facilities, and student centers.

There are also records, application, and matriculation fees, plus library and printing fees. Other fees might include parking and course fees. Fees can add hundreds or even thousands of dollars to a student's bill. Colleges in New York may waive these fees for students with financial need or online learners.

Textbooks and Supplies

According to the Education Data Initiative, the average annual cost of textbooks and supplies in 2021 was $1,240 in public four-year colleges, $1,420 in public two-year colleges, and $1,220 in private four-year colleges. Other costs depend on the student and the program and could include notebooks, calculators, and technology, as per our college supply checklist.

Students might be able to lower their textbook costs with how they decide between buying or renting textbooks. Digital textbooks often cost less than new textbooks but usually cannot be resold or purchased used.

On-Campus Housing

On-campus housing costs vary by school and location. Due to the higher cost of living, students should expect to pay more for housing at colleges in New York City than in rural schools. For example, New York University housing typically exceeds $7,000 per semester, while Alfred State College housing can be lower than $4,000.

Every living facility is different, and the amenities covered by the costs vary. In most cases, residences come furnished. The fees cover electricity, water, and heating. On-campus housing costs may also include Wi-Fi, laundry facilities, local phone service, and fitness center access.

How Much Does It Cost to Live in New York?

New York is home to some of the country's most desirable schools, best college towns, and best neighborhoods for students. One of the drawbacks of living and studying in such desirable locations and schools is the cost.

New York has one of the highest cost of living indexes among all states. Furthermore, New York's most in-demand cities and regions have some of the highest associated costs anywhere.


According to the World Population Review, the average rent in New York was $1,280 in 2022, the sixth highest among all states. In New York City, the median rent price for a one-bedroom apartment was $3,420 in April 2022, as per the Zumper National Rent Report. This was the highest in the nation and more than $500 higher than second-place San Francisco.

While rents are high, New York students can find refuge from above-average rent prices. In fact, the state is home to several towns and cities with rents lower than $1,000, including Tonawanda, Olean, and Medina.

Students can also use rent-saving tactics, such as moving further away from their school, getting a roommate, signing an extended lease, or apartment searching in slower periods, like the winter.


According to Statista, New York had the 13th-highest utilities costs among all states in 2021. Compared to Connecticut, which had the highest average monthly utilities cost at $438.21, New York residents paid an average of $374.35. This includes streaming services, electricity, internet, natural gas, and water.

Despite high electricity prices, New York has relatively low utility costs overall because of the smaller housing sizes and apartments. New York City alone is home to 15% of the country's 20+ unit apartment buildings. In regions where residents pay lower electricity rates, such as Rochester or Hudson Valley, they may have higher water and gas costs.


The cost of food can significantly impact students' wallets and academic success. Poor student nutrition can lead to a lack of concentration, fatigue, and illness, which could result in negative outcomes in school. In New York, students should plan their meals in advance and avoid eating out to save money.

According to the World Population Review, New York has the third-highest grocery and food costs in the country. The grocery index of 118.3 surpasses the national average of 102.7, which represents nearly $610 a month. Learners can strategize their shopping and purchase sale items to maximize their food budgets.


The average American spends an average of $9,826 a year on transportation, as per the World Population Review. In New York, average transportation costs are higher, with an index of 110.6 compared to the national average index of 102.92.

New York has the 13th-highest transportation costs among all states and the 13th-highest gas prices at $4.455/gallon, as per the American Automobile Association. As a money-saving measure, New York offers one of the most extensive public transportation systems, with easily accessible buses, subways, and ride-sharing programs.


According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the average American household spent $907 on miscellaneous items in 2020, plus $646 on personal care items, over $5,100 on healthcare, and more than $2,900 on entertainment. That works out to an average of nearly $800 per month on miscellaneous costs.

According to the World Population Review, New York has the fifth-highest miscellaneous cost of living in the country, which is much higher than the national average. While single students will not spend as much as a family unit, New York degree-seekers should budget carefully.

How to Lower the Cost of College in New York

Apply for Financial Aid, Scholarships, and Grants

To help cover their education costs, New York students can start by applying for financial aid and FAFSA. Degree-seekers with financial need or high academic merit may apply for grants and scholarships. These may include programs run by private organizations, school- and program-specific awards, and regional and state scholarships.

Attend a Public College or University

When trying to lower their education costs, students should compare the price differences between private vs. public colleges. Since public schools receive state funding from taxpayer dollars, they often provide lower tuition prices for state residents than private colleges. Private colleges, however, may offset higher tuition prices with more substantial financial aid packages.

Transfer Credits

Transfer credits decrease the number of credits required for a degree, shortening the study time and lowering tuition. According to our transfer guide, students can save money by transferring from community college to university. Since four-year colleges typically charge higher tuition rates than two-year colleges in New York, many learners complete their general education credits at a community college and then transfer.

Find Free or Low-Cost Textbooks and Supplies

According to the Education Data Initiative, students spend an average of more than $1,200 per year on textbooks. To save money on textbooks, learners can buy and sell used textbooks or rent them. Digital textbooks may also be more affordable than physical copies, but they lack a used market.

Apply for Work, Volunteer, or Military Experience

Balancing work and college is not always easy, but a part-time job or work study assignment can help students balance the cost of their education. A flexible online program may allow students to handle a full-time job. Some schools even award transfer credit for previous work, community, and military experience, which can reduce the program's overall cost.

Frequently Asked Questions About Studying and Living in New York

How much does it cost to be a college student in New York?

The cost of education in New York varies considerably for students depending on many factors. According to the NCES, the average cost for students in four-year public schools was 23,875 in 2019-20, which includes tuition, fees, room, and board.

In four-year private schools, the average total cost of college in New York was $56,958 in 2019-20. Compared to the national averages, four-year New York students paid nearly $3,000 more per year in public schools and nearly $11,000 more per year in private schools.

Is New York expensive to live for students?

Yes. While New York has the second-most schools among all states, as per the NCES, it also has the third-highest cost of living. According to the World Population Review, the state features the second-highest housing costs and third-highest grocery costs in the country.

This affects the price of room and board for students. According to the NCES, New York has the highest room costs for public school students, more than $1,000 above than the next highest state. Board costs are above average in colleges in New York as well.

Is New York a good place to go to college?

There are many reasons to study in New York, including the incredible selection of colleges and universities. The state's 299 schools are second only to California and include seven public and 22 private research institutions. The 22 private research schools are the most of any state.

The state also offers plenty for students to see and do when they are not in class or studying. New York is one of the most culturally, linguistically, and geographically diverse states in the country, with some of the best entertainment and food available.

Why is college so expensive in New York?

College in New York is expensive, with the total average cost of public and private schools coming in higher than the national averages, as per the NCES. Much of the expense of studying here comes from the high cost of living in New York. In fact, the average tuition and fees in four-year public schools are lower than the national average.

Another reason for the high average costs is the large number of prestigious institutions. New York is home to Ivy League Schools, Columbia and Cornell, plus other world-renowned private schools like New York University. The state also has some of the most expensive private colleges in the country, such as Vassar College and Bard College.

Does New York offer free college?

Yes. In 2017, New York launched the Excelsior Scholarship program, which provides free tuition at the State University of New York and City University of New York. To qualify, students need to be state residents and demonstrate sufficient financial need, attend school full-time, and maintain a minimum 2.0 GPA.

Students in need must demonstrate that they or their families make less than $125,000 per year. They also need to remain in the state for the same length of time that they benefited from the program.

BestColleges.com is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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