How Much Does It Cost to Study and Live in Texas?

Texas is one of the most affordable states for college tuition. Find the cheapest places to live in Texas and how much you can expect to spend.

portrait of Alison Plaut
by Alison Plaut

Updated May 16, 2022

Edited by Amelia Buckley
Share this Article
How Much Does It Cost to Study and Live in Texas?


There are many reasons students choose to study in Texas. The Lone Star State offers a lower cost of living, cultural diversity, a mild climate, and excellent educational programs.

Texas has cheaper undergraduate tuition rates than many states, which can make it a worthwhile financial investment for many students.

www.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.

Ready to start your journey?

According to the Education Data Initiative, the average cost of tuition and fees at in-state public universities is about ​​$8,600 per year, as of January 2022. This is lower than the national average of $9,350. States with lower average tuition and fees than Texas include Georgia, Florida, and Wyoming.

The cost of living in Texas varies. In Dallas, the cost of living is 2% higher than the national average, according to Payscale. In Houston, it is 2% less. The cost of living in San Antonio is 14% less than the national average, and Austin is 3% less.

College tuition in Texas has steadily increased over the last several years. Some of that can be attributed to inflation, although reduced state funding is another factor. For more information about going to college in the Lone Star State, check out our Resources for Students in Texas page.

How Much Does It Cost to Study in Texas?

The average cost for in-state tuition and required fees at a public four-year university in Texas was around $8,600, in 2019-2020, according to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES). Out-of-state tuition and required fees in the same year were $24,890.

The average total cost, including room and board, for in-state students was $18,710 at a Texas public, four-year institution. At private four-year institutions, that total was around $48,000.

Location also helps to determine the total cost of college since it influences factors like rent, food, and gas prices. The cost of living in Texas is higher in certain cities like Dallas. The cheapest places to live in Texas include cities like Amarillo and San Antonio, as well as more rural locations.

Tuition

In-state and out-of-state tuition in Texas can vary greatly.

According to NCES, the average cost for tuition and required fees at four-year Texas public institutions was $8,600 in 2019-2020 for an in-state student. For out-of-state students, that cost was $24,890 — a difference of $16,290.

The average cost for room and board in Texas during the 2019-2020 academic year was around $10,110 for public institutions and $12,020 for private institutions, according to NCES.

Tuition Costs in Texas
Institution Type Average Cost of Tuition and Required Fees
Public four-year (in-state) $8,600
Public four-year (out-of-state) $24,890
Private four-year $36,010
Public two-year $2,380
Private two-year $16,900

Source: NCES and Education Data Initiative

Fees

In addition to tuition, there are a variety of fees that can add to the cost of college. These can include fees for your application, registration, printing, and on-campus parking. Some schools also charge a technology fee for online students. Although fees may seem like a small portion of your costs, they can add up.

Texas A&M University, for example, lists fees that include a university advancement fee, student center complex fee, health center fee, laboratory fees, and a recreational sports fee. Meal plans and mandatory health insurance can also add to your costs.

Many fees are mandatory. However, you can save on some fees by opting out of certain services you don't use. Consider whether you are using the meal plan, student center, printing services, or university transportation.

Textbooks and Supplies

The average annual cost of books and supplies is $1,290 at a public four-year institution, according to the Education Data Initiative. At a two-year public institution, the cost averages $1,540 per year.

College students will need required textbooks and materials to complete their studies. Most also like to work on a laptop or tablet and have paper, pens, and highlighters for additional notes or projects.


New textbooks can cost hundreds of dollars. To save on textbooks, students can buy used textbooks at a university store or online. In many cases, there are now less costly digital versions of textbooks to rent for a semester.

On-Campus Housing

During 2019-2020, on-campus room and board at a public four-year Texas college cost an average of $10,112. This was slightly lower than the national average of $11,686 that same school year, according to NCES.

However, room and board costs vary by university and city.

For example, a shared room with a community bath at The University of Texas at Austin (UT Austin) was $12,645 for 2021-2022. A single room with a shared bath was $15,244, and a single room with a private bath costs $18,670.

Most housing plans include a meal plan, internet, and laundry. Some housing plans also include credit for campus stores and cafes and access to community spaces.

How Much Does It Cost to Live in Texas?

Students in Texas pay comparable living costs to other Texas residents. And costs vary depending on your location

Median rent costs $820 in San Antonio and $1,140 in Houston. Across the state, food prices can range from around 5-17% less than the national average. Median energy costs are $147 in San Antonio and $185 in Houston.

The best places to live in Texas for students offer the greatest value.

Other than Dallas and Fort Worth, the cost of living in Texas cities is typically lower than the national average. Dallas, Fort Worth, Houston, and Austin have a higher cost of living than San Antonio and Waco.

Rent

Rent varies by city in Texas. Median rent prices range from $1,140 per month in Houston and Dallas to $890 per month in Lubbock and $820 in San Antonio, according to Payscale.

Generally, more affordable rent is available in San Antonio, Waco, Lubbock, and Midland, while the most expensive cities for rent are Houston, Dallas, and Austin.

At four-year public institutions, the average cost for off-campus housing is about $670 less each year than on-campus housing, according to the Education Data Initiative. At private institutions, off-campus housing costs an average of $800-$2,600 less per year than on-campus housing.

Students can reduce their rent in Texas by sharing housing costs with roommates. Other strategies to reduce rental costs include living at home, renting from parents, or applying for low-income housing.

Utilities

Utilities costs in Texas vary by region and usage patterns. Of all the expenses here, utilities are the one that students can most directly control.

Students who rent off campus can expect to pay $150 to $180 per month on their energy bills. The median energy cost in Waco is $180, according to Payscale. In San Antonio and Austin, the median energy cost is $150 per month.

Students can reduce the cost of utilities by reducing electricity and water usage. For example, reduce electricity by turning off air-conditioning or heating when not in the building or at night. Unplugging electronics when not in use will save on electrical "leaks."

Texas is also one of the states with the highest water prices, so conserving water can help save you money.

Food

Students in Texas can expect to pay less than the national average for food. Food costs 5% less than the national average in Dallas, 12% less in Austin, 13% less in Houston, and 17% less in San Antonio and Waco, according to Payscale.

On-campus unlimited meal plans at UT Austin cost $1,650 per semester. For many students, meal plans are an affordable option, especially for those who do not have a lot of free time to cook. However, eating out frequently can quickly increase food costs on top of the prepaid meal plan.

For those without a meal plan, the average cost of groceries for students in Texas is $190 per month, according to the Education Data Initiative. Students can save by preparing food at home and shopping for sales. Making coffee at home and reducing alcohol consumption can also help reduce costs.

While ramen is cheap, consider planning meals that are well balanced and nutritious. This can help with health and academic performance as well as reduced costs.

Transportation

Texas is a big state, which means you'll likely need a car or public transportation to get around.

The average cost of gas in Texas was $3 per gallon in November 2021. With gas prices rising nationwide, the average gas price in Texas in March 2022 is $3.73 per gallon.

Whether a car is necessary will depend on the college a student chooses. Students living on campus may not need a car, but those in off-campus housing will need a way to get around.

Capital Metro buses are available in the Austin area to University of Texas students and other local colleges. Houston, Dallas, San Antonio, and College Station also have low-cost or free public transportation for students.

Miscellaneous

Additional expenses can cost students an average of $2,733-$6,022 per year at a four-year institution. Health-related expenses are one significant area.

Universities may offer school-sponsored insurance plans. At UT Austin, for example, student health insurance costs $2,060 for the eight-month academic year. Some students are also covered under their family's health insurance plan.

The cost of other miscellaneous expenses will vary by individual student. These include basic personal care, entertainment, activities, and more. Miscellaneous expenses will vary by student based on budgeting and interests.

Miscellaneous expenses may also include costs for university-related trips and events, which vary by institution.

How to Lower the Cost of College in Texas

Apply for Financial Aid, Scholarships, and Grants

Financial aid, scholarships, and grants are effective ways to reduce college costs. Grants are usually government awards, while scholarships may be either privately or publicly funded. Need-based grants and scholarships are awarded based on financial need, while merit-based scholarships are awarded for academic or athletic performance. These awards can range from a few hundred dollars to thousands.

Attend a Public College or University

Public colleges are funded by the state and federal government. This reduces fees for students. In-state tuition at a public college or university will be less than tuition at private institutions.

The average cost of tuition and required fees at a public four-year institution in Texas during the 2019-2020 school year was $8,598. In contrast, the average cost of tuition and required fees at a four-year private institution was $36,014. For out-of-state students, the average cost of tuition and fees at a public institution was $24,889.

Transfer Credits

Students can reduce the total cost of college by transferring credits from a community college. Accredited community colleges in Texas make it easy to transfer credits to a four-year institution.

Texas community college can cost between $85 and $99 for in-district tuition. Tuition for 60 credits of a bachelor's degree can be as low as $5,100.

Find Free or Low-Cost Textbooks and Supplies

Textbooks and supplies can cost thousands of dollars a year. Students can reduce costs by renting textbooks or buying used textbooks. Students can also borrow textbooks from the campus library or resell textbooks after the course to recoup costs.

For other supplies, consider purchasing used laptops or taking advantage of student discounts.

Apply for Work, Volunteer, or Military Experience

Students can reduce costs by getting college credit for previous experience. Work, volunteer projects, and military experience may all be eligible for college credit.

Students can also test out of courses with national testing programs. These tests give students up to 30 college credits, equivalent to one year of undergraduate study.

Frequently Asked Questions About Studying and Living in Texas

How much does it cost to live in Texas as a student?

Excluding tuition, the average cost for a student's room and board is around $10,110 per academic year. Individual costs will vary. Whether students choose to live on or off campus, the type of meal plan, and miscellaneous expenses can all affect total costs.

Students will also need to consider tuition. In-state students at a four-year public institution pay an average of $18,710 for tuition, room, and board, according to the Education Data Initiative. For out-of-state students, this cost increases to $24,890.

For private four-year institutions, the average cost of tuition and fees is $36,014.

Community college tuition is the most affordable option. Tuition is $2,380 for in-state students and $6,373 for out-of-state students.

Is Texas a good place for international students?

Texas can be a good place for international students. Many Texas colleges are highly ranked nationally and internationally. Affordable tuition and cost of living make Texas a good choice for international students.

Cities like Austin, San Antonio, and Houston have diverse international communities. Global cultures come together and may make international students feel at home. These cities also have lively art, music, and theater scenes.

Texas is home to many amusement parks, concert venues, and events. The Lone Star State boasts major league sports teams. Students can also immerse themselves in world-class museums, libraries, and other learning opportunities.

Is Texas a good place to go to college?

Texas is the second-largest state in the U.S. and has a lot to offer students. If you're looking for a mild climate, cultural opportunities, and excellent academic programs, Texas is a good place to go to college.

Texas universities are regionally and nationally ranked. Popular career paths in Texas include business administration, healthcare administration, mechanical engineering, political science, and public policy.

The lower cost of living in Texas and more affordable tuition make it less likely that students will graduate with debt. If students do have loan debt, it is likely less than the national average.

Texas' large size also offers students a variety of cities to choose from with different cultures, climates, and recreational opportunities.

What is the most affordable city in Texas?

Many of the best Texas cities to live, study, and work in are also quite affordable. The cost of living in Houston, Austin, San Antonio, Lubbock, and Midland are all below the national average.

The cheapest Texas cities to live in include Amarillo and San Antonio. The cost of living in both Amarillo and San Antonio are 14% less than the national average.

In San Antonio, the cost of housing is 24% less than the national average, according to Payscale. Groceries cost 17% less. Average energy bills are 12% less, and transportation is 11% less.

In Amarillo, the cost of housing is 28% less than the national average. Groceries are only 8% less than the national average, but utilities and transportation are 10% and 13% less than the national average, respectively.

Feature Image: Grexsys / Moment / Getty Images

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.

Compare your school options.

View the most relevant school for your interests and compare them by tuition, programs, acceptance rate, and other factors important to find your college home.