Compare the Cost of Living
UNC-Chapel Hill is one of the most affordable public research universities for graduate education. This can mean smaller loans, less need for funding, and more money for other things. Less financial burden now translates into more financial freedom after you graduate.
We've used the ERI Student Cost of Living Comparison Calculator to compare the cost of basic consumables in the Chapel Hill, NC area to UNC-Chapel Hill's peer universities. We recommend using the data from the ERI calculator because it is the only tool that offers a student-specific cost-of-living calculation (for example, calculating the cost of renting instead of the cost of home ownership). The ERI tool also allows us to share the cost of living for specific areas where universities are located, instead of the average costs for an entire city or county. We are also providing comparisons from the MIT Living Wage Calculator and the city-to-city comparison from SalaryExpert
The cost of living in Chapel Hill is 115% of the U.S. norm. In other words, in Chapel Hill, your costs for basic consumables of living would be 15% higher than the U.S. national average.
If you are comparing funding awards or financial aid packages, consider how far funding will go in each city. For example, to match $20,000 from UNC-Chapel Hill, you would need $33,200 from a school in Seattle, WA, where the cost of living is 181% higher than the U.S. national average.
But the affordable cost of living is just part of what it means to be a Tar Heel.
It also means being a part of a vibrant campus and community, while still being close to urban areas like Raleigh and Durham. UNC-Chapel Hill graduate students enjoy many opportunities for professional development and networking. Chapel Hill is close to many private, non-profit, and government employers.
Economic Research Institute Student Cost-of-Living
|Comparison School||Comparison City||Student cost-of-living as compared to U.S. norm||Amount needed to match $20,000 in Chapel Hill|
|University of Virginia||Charlottesville, VA||96%||$16,200|
|University of Michigan-Ann Arbor||Ann Arbor-Burns Park, MI||113%||$19,600|
|University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill||Chapel Hill, NC||115%||$20,000|
|University of Pittsburgh||Pittsburgh-North Oakland, PA||119%||$20,800|
|University of Maryland-College Park||College Park, MD||125%||$22,000|
|University of Wisconsin-Madison||Madison-University Heights, WI||130%||$23,000|
|Johns Hopkins University||Baltimore, MD||132%||$23,400|
|The University of Texas at Austin||Austin-Hancock, TX||133%||$23,600|
|University of Minnesota-Twin Cities||Minneapolis, MN||142%||$25,400|
|University of Pennsylvania||Philadelphia, PA||150%||$27,000|
|Northwestern University||Evanston, IL||151%||$27,200|
|University of Washington-Seattle||Seattle-University District, WA||181%||$33,200|
|University of California-Berkeley||Emeryville, CA||193%||$35,600|
|University of Southern California||Los Angeles, CA||200%||$37,000|
|University of California-Los Angeles||Los Angeles-Westwood, CA||245%||$46,000|
Student Cost of Living for Consumables as a percentage of the U.S. National Norm: The above "consumables" percentage assumes a minimum wage earner or student sharing an apartment and paying minimum taxes. Consumables include convenience food items combined with weighted pricing patterns found in grocery and drug stores. The impact of consumables varies by earnings level - college students' consumable expenses might consume 50% of their income while it may impact only 20% of a professional's earnings. In the latter case, COL is more affected by home ownership versus rent decisions, residence size, personal income taxes, and cost of services, transportation, and miscellaneous items.
Source: Economic Research Institute, Student Cost of Living Assessor
MIT Living Wage Calculator
|Comparison School||Comparison City||Required annual income before taxes||Compared to Chapel Hill|
|University of Pittsburgh||Pittsburgh, PA||$33,387||-$4,895|
|University of Pennsylvania||Philadelphia, PA||$36,087||-$2,195|
|University of Wisconsin-Madison||Madison, WI||$36,371||-$1,911|
|University of Minnesota-Twin Cities||Minneapolis, MN||$36,798||-$1,484|
|Johns Hopkins University||Baltimore, MD||$37,044||-$1,238|
|The University of Texas at Austin||Austin, TX||$37,754||-$528|
|University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill||Chapel Hill, NC||$38,282||$0|
|University of Michigan-Ann Arbor||Ann Arbor, MI||$38,838||$556|
|University of Virginia||Charlottesville, VA||$38,862||$580|
|Northwestern University||Evanston, IL||$39,990||$1,708|
|University of Washington-Seattle||Seattle, WA||$44,686||$6,404|
|University of Southern California||Los Angeles, CA||$44,783||$6,501|
|University of California-Los Angeles||Los Angeles, CA||$44,783||$6,501|
|University of Maryland-College Park||College Park, MD||$46,403||$8,121|
|University of California-Berkeley||Berkeley, CA||$49,329||$11,047|
Required annual income before taxes is calculated for one adult with no children.
Source: MIT Living Wage Calculator
SalaryExpert - City-to-City Comparison
|Comparison School||Comparison City||Amount needed to match $20,000 in Chapel Hill||Compared to Chapel Hill|
|University of Virginia||Charlottesville, VA||$16,908||-16%|
|University of Wisconsin-Madison||Madison, WI||$18,624||-7%|
|University of Michigan-Ann Arbor||Ann Arbor, MI||$19,774||-1%|
|University of Pittsburgh||Pittsburgh, PA||$19,877||-1%|
|University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill||Chapel Hill, NC||$20,000||0|
|University of Maryland-College Park||College Park, MD||$21,974||10%|
|The University of Texas at Austin||Austin, TX||$22,705||14%|
|Johns Hopkins University||Baltimore, MD||$23,274||16%|
|University of Minnesota-Twin Cities||Minneapolis, MN||$24,531||23%|
|University of Pennsylvania||Philadelphia, PA||$26,197||31%|
|Northwestern University||Evanston, IL||$27,594||38%|
|University of Washington-Seattle||Seattle, WA||$33,420||67%|
|University of Southern California||Los Angeles, CA||$34,359||72%|
|University of California-Los Angeles||Los Angeles, CA||$34,359||72%|
|University of California-Berkeley||Berkeley, CA||$40,565||103%|
Cost of living comparison is calculated based on accumulating the cost of food, transportation, health services, rent, utilities, taxes, and miscellaneous expenses.
Data current as of March, 2023