The Philippines is a country where urban surroundings meet the ocean. Its crystal blue lagoons, coastal mountain springs, and rainforests consistently draw in visitors worldwide, including international students.

The Philippines started to earn the attention of most international students when it gained a good reputation in teaching the English language. Through time, students have begun to explore other degree programs, and so the country has become one of the best destinations whenever you want to study abroad.

Because of the locals’ fluency in speaking the universal language, it is not difficult for these international students to communicate. Besides the hospitable culture, there are also other factors that you need to consider if you want to study in a country like the Philippines. Hence, use this article as a guide in knowing the cost of studying and living expenses in the Philippines.

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Cost of Studying in the Philippines for International Students

More than its inexpensive tuition, almost all universities in the Philippines use English as the medium of instruction. This makes the country a good option for international students since you are no longer required to learn the Filipino language before applying.

In terms of the cost of studying in the Philippines, public universities do not charge tuition fees. However, the admission process is highly competitive. Although the majority of the universities in the country are private institutions, the tuition fees are still budget-friendly for international students.

The University of the Philippines Diliman is one of the most excellent universities in the country, especially for journalism, engineering, and philosophy degrees. Foreign students pay between Php 4,661 to Php 31,490 for a 12-unit semester.

The University of Santo Tomas is a private institution and the oldest university in Asia. It offers approximately Php 50,000 to Php 60,000 per semester in all its degree programs. Silliman University also has an average of Php 55,000 per semester for its undergraduate and postgraduate courses. Its School of Medicine, the university’s specialization, costs Php 256,258 annually.

Graduate programs at Ateneo de Manila University, popular for their arts and sciences courses, range from Php 23,780 to Php 59,450 per semester.

Cost of Living in the Philippines for International Students

1. Cost of Living in Manila

Manila is famous among international students since it houses the majority of the prominent universities in the Philippines. However, in terms of cost of living, studies show that Manila is Southeast Asia’s third most expensive city to live in.

Average apartment rent in the city ranges between Php 20,000 to Php 33,000 per month. Nonetheless, there are a lot of cheaper options where you can share a room with three to four people and simply pay for the bed space. Utility bills, inclusive of your Internet, electricity, and water, can cost Php 8,000 a month.

Manila is known for having the best food establishments in town, so you might often have the urge to eat outside. For a safe estimate, you can set aside Php 12,000 a month for your food expenses.

In terms of your transportation, commuting is pretty stressful in Manila. So it is better to book your ride ahead of time than simply catching a bus. On average, you can spend around Php 8,000 a month on transportation.

2. Cost of Living in Cebu

Cebu is hailed as the Queen City of the South due to its economic relevance to the Philippines. Although the cost of living in this Philippine city is relatively high, it is still 25% less expensive than in Manila.

The average one-bedroom apartment rate in Cebu is Php 14,102. In that kind of apartment, your monthly utility bills can cost Php 5,000.

Cebu has a different mode of public transportation than other cities. Here, there are no trains. So you are most likely to ride a jeepney or a taxi when commuting. A one-way jeepney trip in Cebu only costs a minimum of Php 15.

Where you buy your groceries matters so much when you live in Cebu. If you want to have a hassle-free yet expensive shopping experience, you can go to big-box membership superstores around the area and spend about Php 20,000 a month. However, Cebu also has a lot of night markets and local kiosks where you can pay as little as Php 150 for one kilo of chicken meat.

3. Cost of Living in Baguio

Living in Baguio is comparatively lower than in other urban cities. An international student living in Baguio has an estimated monthly cost of Php 35,409, inclusive of all essential expenses like rent, utilities, healthcare, food, transportation, and the like.

An apartment for a single person in the city center is estimated to cost Php 10,200 a month. If you still prefer a lower rental rate, you can find an apartment worth Php 7,800 per month outside downtown.

Food costs in Baguio are not that expensive, given that the city is self-sufficient in crops and agriculture. Basically, you can spend around Php 6,580 a month on your groceries.

4. Cost of Living in Davao

Davao City is located on the southern Philippine island of Mindanao and is known for its rich indigenous culture and tradition.

The monthly rent for an apartment in Davao City ranges from Php 8,500 to Php 20,000. That is exclusive of utility bills, which can cost up to Php 5,500 a month.

One of the best things in Davao City is the fact that everything only takes ten minutes. Wherever you want to go or whatever you want to buy, it is always just ten minutes away from you. This is the reason why transportation fees in the area do not cost that much, with only an average of Php 1,011 a month.

In general, an international student in Davao may estimate their cost of living in this Philippine city to be around Php 30,198 a month.

5. Cost of Living in Bacolod

Bacolod is located in Western Visayas and is known as the City of Smiles because of the locals’ positive outlook on life. One of the reasons why many international students are comfortable staying in Bacolod is the warm and hospitable ambiance of the city.

A one-bedroom apartment in Bacolod may range from Php 10,245 to Php 17,206 a month, inclusive of your utility expenses.

Your food costs in Bacolod are inexpensive compared to other major cities, with an average of Php 10,721 a month. Transportation is also not a problem in the area since the minimum one-way ticket is only Php 10.


I hope that you found this article on the cost of studying and living in the Philippines informative and helpful. Do visit the Asia Scholarships Page to find out more about universities and scholarships in Asia!