Realistic costs - U of Edinburgh for US student?

Hi - my daughter is very interested in studying in Scotland - wondering if costs are too prohibitive. Is online price realistic, or do they offer good financial aid/scholarships to international students with excellent grades?

There are few scholarships available to international students. Similar to the US most international students are full pay.

For example:

The tuition for UK schools tends to be significantly lower than US schools (although that is also subject to any need of merit based aid received). University of Edinburgh £22,000 for 2021 =$30,447 (adjusts every year) St. Andrews £25,100 (fixed for 4 years). Travel costs should be considered as well.

Accommodation fees vary more broadly depending on whether you live in university housing, what kind and whether you have a meal plan or if you live in a private flat/house.

The key is whether your daughter knows what she wants to study and is ok studying mainly that subject for 4 years. A liberal arts education isn’t a part of the Scottish university system.

I am not an expert but made a bit of a hobby out of researching various universities in the UK (incl Scotland Wales and England) during fall of 2020 when we were stuck at home so much since my D22 has also expressed interest in studying somewhere in the UK. Strathclyde and Stirling in Scotland, UEA in East Anglia England, and Aberystwyth in Wales are on her list so far.

As far as budget and costs, I found most UK unis to come out around $45Kish overall (including housing, fees, etc) so not too bad when you compare to a US private school or OOS but more than in-state public. Tuition fees are just part of it, of course, just like in the US. Accommodation prices should be listed on each university’s website for the various halls of residence. Scholarships can be substantial for international students depending on what uni you are looking at. I know UEA and Aberystwyth have listed fairly generous scholarships for US students in the past, but COVID may have changed that. UEA did have a £10k scholarship for Americans and Aberystwyth had free accommodation. But many universities don’t give much in the way of scholarships to US students. You just have to dig in on each website. I don’t know about the University of Edinburgh since it ended up not making my D22’s list.

There are some tools out there to help you budget for costs beyond tuition:


Most unis in Scotland are 4 year programs, while most in England are 3 years. There are starting to be a few more unis with more American style liberal arts programs but as vpa2019 said the traditional path is applying directly into your course of study and then you study that subject almost exclusively. Unis in Scotland do typically allow you to take a class or two in one or two other specified subjects, but you don’t have the breadth of options that you would in an American university, but you also don’t have any Gen Ed requirements.

There are some exceptions to this traditional path though. In Scotland, the University of Stirling and the University of Dundee come closer to offering more of a liberal arts experience and allow the student to take classes in a variety of subjects.

I believe St Andrew’s will let you study three subjects too. It is a very popular university with Americans.

There are some unis in England that offer a Liberal Arts degree too. Just do a search on “ UK universities Liberal Arts”. I know Kings College London is one that does. There are about a dozen or more that offer something similar.

Also check out UCAS, the UK version of the Common App. You are limited to 5 applications total. The Student Room UK university forum site can be helpful too. If you haven’t discovered it “course” in the UK = Course Of Study = Major. “Course” does not mean a class. “Module” means class. Oh, and “tuition” means “tutoring” or “teaching”, so be sure to say “tuition fees” if you’re talking about money. It’s that old biscuit/cookie British English/American English thing. Good luck!

Oh, one other link we found helpful was Study Across The Pond. They are a service that helps North American students apply to UK universities. It’s free. Don’t think Edinburgh Uni is on their list but Strathclyde is and you may get some good general tips from them.

I’m a consultant for Americans seeking to study in the UK, among other places. Sadly, financial aid is extremely limited for Americans. If your family is looking for financial aid at a UK university, some do offer incentives for high-performing foreign students (e.g. the University of Lincoln), but none are going to be a full ride.

Another commenter mentioned Across the Pond, and I wanted to provide full disclosure on them. They are an agent, and many UK universities use such groups to recruit overseas students who will pay full fees. They’re free to you because the universities end up paying upwards of $2,300 per enrolled student. They do provide a thorough service, as their goal is to help get your child in at a university, but I do want to point out that they are not a fiduciary.

If she’s interested in Europe as a whole, here’s a list of government sites that provide databases for programs and scholarships:

Germany - German Academic Exchange Service - DAAD
Sweden -
The Netherlands -
Italy - HOME | StudyInItaly
Norway -
Finland -
Denmark -
Spain -
France - Étudiant | Campus France Studying in France

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When we looked at St. Andrews a few years ago, they were offering scholarships for all international students that essentially covered full tuition for the fourth year. It looks like they are still offering generous scholarships to international students: International Undergraduate Scholarship - Study at St Andrews - University of St Andrews
Beautiful school.

I found StudyAcrossThePond listed on the University of Strathclyde’s website. They are a legit service that the universities work with and they offer their services at no charge to the student. They don’t work with the Uni of Edinburgh or all the universities in the UK, but they do work with about 50 different universities. Worth checking out IMO.

Remember that the great thing about UK unis for US students is that (with a few notable exceptions) if you meet their published ‘typical offer’ you can be pretty sure you will get an offer.

The reason that you can be pretty sure that you will get a place is because you are paying International fees. So, yes, St As has a $10K tuition scholarship (if you can show that your household income is below average for where you live)- but it’s off the £22-25K tuition level. Home students pay less than £2K; other UK students pay just under £10k. So, even a US student with a scholarship is netting the uni several thousand extra in fees.

I’ve got nothing against Study Across the Pond, and if you’re interested in a university that they represent, they provide a good service. Like I said, however, as they are paid by the universities that they recruit for, I feel people should go into it knowing that.

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