Costs of Studying and Living in South Africa

South Africa is the most popular study destination in the continent, having the highest-ranking universities. If you are an international student and want to know the costs of studying and living in South Africa, here you are some valuable information.

Costs of Studying

Tuition fees in South Africa vary according to the course/program and institution. You can expect to pay the following:

University studies: between RS20,000 and RS30,000 annually.

Medical degrees: RS95,000 to 100,000, a minimum of RS70,000 as standard tuition fees.

This is in addition to RS35,000 as the international students’ fees. The fees reach around a minimum total of RS110,000 for the bachelor student and RS94,000 for the masters.

Application Fees

Most of the universities impose non-refundable application fees of RS100-RS500.

Please note that paying the application fees does not mean that your application will be accepted.

Some institutions, such as Nelson Mandela Metropolitan, offer free applications for both online and manual (paper-based) submissions.

Other institutions, like the University of Johannesburg, offer free online applications but charge a fee of RS200 for manual applications.

Registration Fees

Some universities request specific registration fees.

For example, the University of Rhodes requests around 10% of the tuition fees and 10% of the accommodation fees.

The good news is that this is usually a down payment on your total tuition fees, which means that it will be deducted from your tuition bill for the rest of the year.

Check our article about the top 6 universities in South Africa.


Always check the registration deadline.

Often, the institutions impose non-refundable late registration fees of around RS680 and RS2,250 if you miss the deadline


Many universities, either public or private, offer discounts if you paid your tuition fees in advance.

Costs of Living

The cost of living in South Africa is lower than most of the advanced countries, so you do not have to worry if you are planning to study in the country.

The urban areas are very expensive, while the other areas are lower in cost. The general costs of living range between RS24,000 and RS32,000 per year.

The following are some of the prices of the basic groceries:

  • Milk: RS10
  • Bread (500g): RS9.38
  • A dozen eggs: RS18
  • Chicken (1kg): RS48
  • Rice (1kg): RS16

Accommodation and Main Utilities

The monthly bill of electricity and water: RS650-RS1,500

One-room apartment (in the city center): RS3,300-RS6,000 monthly
One-room apartment (outside the city center): RS3,000-RS5,000 monthly

Books and Equipment

The cost of books, stationery, and educational equipment depends on what you study and where.

The University of Cape Town estimates RS6,000 for books and RS3,000 for equipment. 

Your equipment can cost more if you are studying art, for instance, or if you study at a private institution. 

Health Insurance

Student health insurance is obligatory.

The average cost is RS125 per month. You can contact the International Education Association of South Africa (IEASA) to learn about the health insurance plans and their benefits for the international students.

Moreover, students must undergo a medical examination while applying for a study permit.


Traveling by train or bus is the best option, as South Africa has a wide and well-maintained infrastructure.

Gasoline: RS10-RS12/liter

This was our article about the costs of studying and living in South Africa, see you in our next article.

Check our article about how to get study visa in South Africa.

About Sara

A professional Eng><Ara translator and writer.

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