Updated on Friday 1 March 2013
Careful planning is both necessary and wise. You will be required to prove to the university, to the consular officer (the person at the U.S. Consulate who issues visa stamps), and perhaps to the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service that you have sufficient funds to cover your living expenses (housing, food, clothing, etc) and health insurance, as well as university's tuition and fees.
So how much money will you need? You can get a general idea about expenses by looking at catalogs or application information provided by the university. Remember, however, that tuition rates vary tremendously. State (public) universities are generally, but not always, less expensive than private institutions. Some private institutions may be able to offer scholarships that state schools can not. Two-year or community colleges are usually less expensive than colleges and universities offering bachelor's and graduate degrees.
The cost of living in different parts of the United States also varies. In general, living in urban areas (in or near a big city) is more expensive than living in smaller towns or rural areas. Renting an apartment in a big city can cost twice as much as it does in a smaller town because there is such high demand for housing in large U.S. cities. Likewise, food, clothing, entertainment, and other living expenses may be more expensive in a city.