Its important to plan carefully and budget to have sufficient funds to cover the cost of your education and living expensesin the United States. An estimate of your living expenses for one year in the U.S. is listed on your I-20. The estimate included on a DS-2019 is for the duration if the program. This is only an estimate. Expenses change as economic markets change and also depend upon that nature of your spending. Consult the International Admissions page for information about financial assistance.

  • Tuition and fees are just one part of the overall cost to attend CU Boulder. The full cost of attendance for an academic year could include expenses such as on-campus housing and food, books and supplies, and items that are not billed by the university, such as personal expenses, transportation and medical insurance. View the full cost of attendance.

All CU students must have health insurance coverage for oneself and dependents who accompany them on their SEVIS program. Carefully research the cost of insurance to see what plan serves you (and your family) the best - budget for the cost of insurance premiums, so that you are not surprised by unexpected medical bills.

You may find it helpful to review these average cost of living calculations for Boulder.

Rent will be cheaper if you live with a roommate or roommates.

If you are an F or J student, you will have to pay a SEVIS fee to CU Boulder. This is not the same fee as the one you paid to the Department of Homeland Security before you got your visa. The CU SEVIS fee is $40 per semester, and is included in your tuition and fee bill. 

If you are an F or J student, it is possible for you to work on campus, but you will need to have a Social Security number to be paid (see "Social Security Number" below). On-campus employment is limited to low-paying jobs, so you should plan to have enough money to cover your tuition and living expenses.

It is very important that you have sufficient funds available to you as you prepare to come to Boulder so you can meet your immediate expenses. Bring funds that are readily negotiable, such as traveler’s checks, a certified bank draft on a bank with a correspondent US bank, or an internationally approved credit card or automatic teller machine card.

You will need about $12,000 your first few weeks of school to cover the following expenses. These figures are only estimates, and can vary widely. 

  • Transportation to Boulder from the airport: $13 to $100, depending if by bus, van, or taxi
  • Accommodations for a few days: $300, hotel ($65 to $200/night) 
  • Food and living expenses: $100, varies considerably
  • On-campus housing: Included in your tuition and fee bill
  • Off-campus housing: $900, varies depending on rent and required deposits
  • Books and supplies: $875
  • CU health insurance: $1695 for one person; much more if you have dependents
  • Confirmation deposit: $200
  • PLUS tuition and fees:  varies
    • Tuition and fees are just one part of the overall cost to attend CU Boulder. The full cost of attendance for an academic year could include expenses such as on-campus housing and food, books and supplies, and items that are not billed by the university, such as personal expenses, transportation and medical insurance. View the full cost of attendance.

Tuition and fee billing is online at CU Boulder. No bills are ever mailed. Students access their student account in MyCUInfo. Because of FERPA, parents do not automatically have access to view the student account and pay online, but students can give them access. This process is called “authorizing payers”. Students and authorized payers receive email reminders on a monthly basis when bills are available online.  For more information about tuition and fees, authorizing payers, and paying online please visit the Bursar’s Office website at

You can use a U.S. credit card to pay your tuition (a 2.75% nonrefundable service fee applies to all credit/debit card payments). We accept Visa, MasterCard, American Express, and DISCOVER. Tuition payments are due no later than the due dates posted on the Bursar's website. For other payment options, including wire transfers, see the Bursar's website.

If you have an appointment as a teaching assistant or research assistant, you will not receive your first month’s paycheck until you have been issued a Social Security number and have been placed on the University payroll. This will take several weeks. See “Social Security Number,” below. More specific instructions about obtaining a Social Security number will be available when you check in with ISSS; you cannot apply for a Social Security number from your home country. You must check in with ISSS before you apply. Confirm with a representative from your department exactly what they will pay towards the cost of your tuition, fees, and health insurance. Keep in mind that your department will not buy insurance for your dependents. For details on graduate tuition and fees, go to the Bursar's website.

Establish a checking account at a Boulder bank so that you can pay bills and not have to carry large amounts of cash with you. If you have substantial amounts of money paid to you in lump sums, you may want to establish a savings account or invest in short-term certificates of deposit so that your money will earn interest until you need it. If you have questions before you arrive, we suggest contacting one of these banks. These banks do not require a Social Security number to open an account, although they may require proof of a residence in Colorado.

  • US Bank
  • Wells Fargo
  • First Bank 
  • Chase Bank
  • Bank of America

When you arrive in Boulder, arrange for your bank to send funds to the Boulder bank of your choice. Then ask the bank in Boulder to open a checking account for you so that your funds will be immediately available. Money sent to a bank in Boulder must first clear through another bank in the United States. Find out from your bank at home which United States bank will be used for this transfer of funds so you can trace the deposit if it does not arrive promptly in Boulder. After your funds arrive, you can make any necessary changes to your account, such as putting some funds in a savings account or other investment account. When you open your account, make sure to fill out a W8-BEN form. Your bank will have the form. It shows the bank that you should not be taxed on the interest you earn on your account.

Another banking option is Elevations Credit Union, the University of Colorado Federal Credit Union, which has several branch offices in Boulder County. There is a branch located in the University Memorial Center (student union) on central campus: UMC 143, telephone (303) 443-4672. Boulder branch offices include the Diagonal Branch, Baseline Branch, and Table Mesa Branch. There are also branch offices in Lafayette, Longmont, and Broomfield/Westminster.

You may open a temporary account at Elevations Credit Union without a Social Security number, but you will have to show a copy of your application receipt, (which requires proof of employment) and a letter from ISSS verifying your eligibility for a Social Security number.

The mailing address is for Elevations Credit union is:
Elevations Credit Union, PO Box 9004, Boulder, CO 80301 USA

You cannot apply for a Social Security number (SSN) until all of the following have happened:

  1. Completed the ISSS immigration check-in process and waited at least 5 business days
  2. Enrolled in a full-time course load. 
  3. Have a job offer letter verifying employment.
  4. Submitted the SSN Letter Request e-form (available in the MyISSS portal)

Most international students receive their Social Security card in two to four weeks after submitting an application.

International Student and Scholar Services does not provide scholarships or financial aid awards. You must have sufficient funds to attend CU Boulder. Failure to carefully plan and budget could result in the termination of your SEVIS program. You will not qualify for a job that would cover the cost of an education at CU-Boulder, and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services monitors non-immigrant student employment very closely.


Make secure payments through Flywire. Flywire eliminates bank fees and provides you with reasonable exchange rates. To use Flywire, select International Student Payment in MyCUInfo (CUBill&Pay for family members who are authorized payers) when paying tuition and fees.

Video: How To Use Flywire