CPA Exam Fees: How Much Does the CPA Cost?

cpa exam fees

As with so many good things in life, the CPA certification is not free. Even after you earn your degree, you’ll have to meet a few other CPA requirements that will cost you money, such as passing the CPA Exam. And unless you’re one of the fortunate few whose firm covers some or all of your CPA Exam costs, you’ll have to pay a handful of CPA Exam fees that will add up to 4 figures before you can say “certified”.

However, this news shouldn’t scare or frustrate you. Instead, you must keep in mind that the CPA certification is well worth every penny you spend because it pays for itself with dividends for the duration of your career. Therefore, you should use this heads-up to develop a budget that accounts for all the CPA costs you may encounter. Because you’re an accountant, I’m sure you’ll be able to adequately prepare your funds once you learn all about the cost of the CPA.

Sources of CPA Fees

To take the U.S. CPA Exam, you’ll fund some CPA U.S.A. fees. And, you’ll send your money to some of the CPA partners that charge these CPA fees.

  • The State Boards of Accountancy: Individual states issue CPA licenses, so you must apply to a CPA state board of accountancy to begin the licensure process and include some money with your CPA Exam application.
  • The National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA): You might also work with NASBA to finish the application process and receive your Notice to Schedule (NTS), in which case, you’d pay some of the fees through them.
  • The American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA): The AICPA creates the exam, so a portion of the fees you’ll pay will cover their services.
  • Prometric: Prometric administers the CPA Exam at its testing centers, so they will also receive a kickback from your exam costs.

Together, these organizations will charge you quite a bit in CPA certification costs, but I promise they’re not trying to swindle you. They just all deserve a piece of the pie for the part they play in helping candidates earn the CPA.

CPA Exam Fees

How much is the CPA Exam? Well, we can only answer that question by reviewing a series of CPA exam costs.

When you apply to take the CPA Exam, you must pay an application fee and an examination fee. Depending on your state, you may also have to pay a registration fee at some point. The boards can charge whatever they want for these fees, but 50 out of 55 adhere to NASBA’s examination fee schedule.

CPA Exam Application Fee

You must pay an initial application fee to your state board. To give you a sense of how much this fee will cost, I’ll discuss some examples.

Of the jurisdictions that follow NASBA’s fee schedule example, the application fee ranges from a mere $10 (thank you, West Virginia) to a monstrous $245 (no thank you, Montana). Of the jurisdictions that developed their own fee schedule, the lowest application fee is $150 (a tie between Oregon and the U.S. Virgin Islands). And though their application fees may be high, some of these rogue state boards actually charge lower examination fees than their NASBA-influenced counterparts.

And then, there’s Wisconsin, which is in a league of its own. Wisconsin has combined its application and examination fee to charge $412.40 for one section (slightly less than Montana) and $1,106.60 for all four sections (that’s entering good CPA review course territory).

This is a one-time fee, but you’ll have to pay it again if your state board rejects your application or if you let your Authorization to Test Notice (ATT) expire.

CPA Examination Fee

The examination fee covers the cost of sitting for each CPA Exam section. The NASBA examination fee schedule that guides the majority of state boards is:

The NASBA totals include these individual CPA test costs:

Fee Type

Fee

AICPA (development and scoring)

$100.00

Prometric (testing)

$82.28

Security Fee/Digital Photograph

$6.12

NASBA (database and reporting)

$20.00

Only 5 state boards don’t let NASBA determine their examination fees, and for some, this considerate move saves candidates money. For others, it’s an opportunity to jack up the prices (I’m still looking at you, Wisconsin).

Also, candidates testing at international locations may have higher examination fees, depending on the jurisdiction.

CPA Exam Registration Fee

Fifty-two out of 55 state boards also charge a registration fee. You’ll have to pay this CPA Exam cost if you ever need another NTS.

Thirty-seven state boards have a flat fee that candidates pay no matter how many CPA Exam sections they are scheduling. And, the range for flat registration fees is $30 to $150 (New Hampshire is literally trying to give Wisconsin a run for their money). The remaining 15 state boards have tiered CPA registration fees, the most expensive of which comes from Wisconsin (of course).

We’ll use Wisconsin’s tiered registration fee structure as an example so you know the most that you would have to pay.

  • 1 section: $329.40
  • 2 sections: $560.80
  • 3 sections: $792.20
  • 4 sections: $1023.60

The Cost of CPA Certification

I know we’ve seen a lot of dollar signs so far, but we’re not done yet. There are a few other CPA fees you’ll have to compensate for in the process of taking the CPA Exam and earning the CPA.

CPA Exam Costs

1. CPA Review Course

The CPA Exam is a long, challenging test. So, you don’t need to make it any harder on yourself by taking it on alone. Instead, to pass fast and avoid the hassle of combing through the CPA Exam Blueprints yourself, you should invest in a CPA review course. While a review course will cost you up front, it will save you time and money in the long run by helping you avoid CPA Exam section fails.

CPA Course Fees

You’ll find many different CPA review courses on the market, with prices just shy of $1,000 to well over $3,000. And if you’ll be footing the bill, you don’t want to pay any more than you have to. But no matter who’s paying your CPA course fees, you must remember that a CPA review course is not a splurge: it’s essential. So, knowing that self-study CPA review courses can offer as much if not more value than live courses for much less, you should base your purchase decision on your preferred learning style and the quality of the course.

Even if your firm provides free study materials, you should do your research to make sure that you’ll get the right CPA Exam prep for you. Your company will probably pay for whichever course you prefer, so take the time to shop around and let them know if you’d like to switch to something more capable of guaranteeing your CPA Exam success.

And then, when you’re ready to purchase your CPA review course, look for CPA review discounts so you can save some money. If you’re relying on your own personal CPA budget, then you can really benefit from CPA review discount links and promo codes. But, your firm will also appreciate it if you find them a way to keep some cash. So, don’t forget to take advantage of my great offers on popular courses such as Wiley CPAexcel, Becker CPA Review, Gleim CPA Review, Roger CPA Review, Surgent CPA Review, NINJA CPA Review, Yaeger CPA Review, and others before you start your CPA Exam studies.

2. Accounting Courses

Most state boards require CPA candidates to have 120 credit hours of education in order to sit for the CPA Exam. If you need to take some additional accounting courses to meet this CPA education requirement, you’ll have to spend anywhere from a few hundred dollars to a few thousand dollars. ‘Cause college just ain’t as cheap as it used to be.

3. Foreign Credential Evaluations

To complete the CPA Exam qualification process, international candidates must have a foreign credential evaluation agency evaluate their transcripts. Prices for this service range from $85-$550 depending on how quickly you need the evaluation completed.

4. Travel and Accommodations

If the Prometric center where you’ll test isn’t just right up the road, then you’ll need to allow for all kinds of travel and accommodation expenses. For international and out-of-state candidates, these CPA Exam costs could include airplane tickets, bus tickets, taxis, hotel rooms, and meals. Plan to shell out big bucks for all that.

CPA Costs

1. Ethics Exam Fee

To ensure that you’re an honest and respectable person, 35 of the state boards require you to pass a CPA ethics exam along with the CPA Exam, because practice testing makes perfect. Twenty-six of these state boards use the AICPA’s Professional Ethics course to fulfill this requirement, and that course costs $149 for AICPA members and $189 for non-members.

2. CPA License

Once you pass the CPA Exam and meet the remaining CPA requirements, you’ll have accomplished and paid for so much. But, to prove that you really, really want to be legally considered a CPA, you’ll also have to pay for the CPA license. As always, the price varies based on the state in which you register, but you’ll probably pay between $50-$500.

3. CPE

As a CPA, you can’t let everything you learned for your education and exam requirements slip away. And, you’ve got to stay up to date with the latest changes in the industry. Insert CPE or continuing education. I feel like a broken record saying this, but once again, how much CPE you need will depend on your state. Most states require you to complete 40 hours of CPE a year, and one credit hour of CPE can cost anywhere from $20 to $125. You do the math.

So, How Much Does the CPA Exam Cost?

Now, we can get to the grand total for your CPA Exam fees as part of your CPA costs. Check out these final figures:

Overall CPA Exam Fees

CPA Fee Structure

CPA Price Without a Section Retake

Price With a Section Retake

Application

$150.00

$150.00

Examination Fees

$833.60

$833.60

Review Course

$2,000.00

$2,000.00

Ethics Exam

$189.00

$189.00

License

$250.00

$250.00

Registration Fee + Examination Fee

N/A

$75 + $208.40

Total

$3,402.60

$3,686.00

The Cost of the CPA Exam Comparatively

So, is the CPA certification the most expensive accounting certification? No, but the cost of the CPA is up there.

The CPA Exam fees definitely come to more than the CIA exam fees, the CMA exam fees, and the EA exam fees. One of the only other accounting certifications to put up similar costs is the CFA exam. But the many benefits of the CPA, such as the CPA salary, will more than compensate you for your financial investment, so you shouldn’t let the CPA Exam price deter your dreams of becoming a CPA.

Saving on CPA Exam Costs

In the process of meeting the other requirements and maintaining the license, you’ll incur additional CPA certification costs along the way. However, you can take a few steps to cut your CPA Exam costs before you get started.

As you can see in the table, one of these steps is to pass each section the first time. Another good move would be to learn everything you can about the exam so you have the knowledge you need to save money. So, to discover all the details about the exam and how to pass the first time, take my free CPA course. Remember, “free” means it won’t cost you anything, so sign up below!

About the Author Stephanie Ng

I am the author of How to Pass The CPA Exam (published by Wiley) and the publisher of this and several accounting professional exam prep sites

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  • Stephanie says:

    If you fail the test the 1st time do you have to pay the $50 re-application fee AND the entire test fee again? Do you get more than one attempt for your $823?

    Thanks!

  • SARAH says:

    I AM A LITTLE CONFUSED ABOUT PAYING FOR ALL 4 EXAMS IN ONE GO. HOW MUCH TIME DO YOU HAVE TO STUDY TO BE ABLE TO SIT ALL 4 TESTS WITHOUT HAVING TO PAY AGAIN? IT SEEMS LIKE YOU NEED TO PAY FOR ALL 4 TESTS WHEN YOU REGISTER, AND NOT WHEN YOU FEEL READY TO SIT THE EXAM.

  • SARAH says:

    I AM A ACCA MEMEBER FROM THE UK. IT WOULD APPEAR THAT COLORADO NO LONGER RECOGNISES THIS. WILL I STILL MEET ALL THE NECESSARY REQUIREMENTS?

    • Stephanie says:

      Hi Sarah,
      This is actually a good question… I think if you pay for all 4 parts in one go you are qualified for a discount or something… but you can definitely pay one at a time.

      But many candidates pay in one go anyway because it’s kind of useless unless you complete all parts of the exam, so you have to pay anyway. The fee is valid for 18 months I think…? OK let me double check first and get back to you here.

      On your qualification, yes unfortunately they no longer recognize ACCA as an automatic ticket to sit for the exam. Whether you can still qualify or not depends on what you fulfill the CPA exam requirements in each state… generally 4-5 years of university with some classes in accounting and business will do. Please click the link for further details.

      Stephanie

  • sherif abdel hamid says:

    hi stephanie
    how much time do i need to complete the whole course if there is an accelereted course or something and i am international student living in the us right now, does the bachelor degree from my country is accredited in the education requirements?

  • Stephanie says:

    hi Sherif,
    By “courses”, do you mean the CPA exam prep course or the extra credit you need to fulfill the requirements?

    And on whether a bachelor degree from your country is accredited… it depends on your school and not really your country (if it is a good school it is generally ok I believe), but I honestly won’t be able to provide such answer and you’ll have to go through the professional, foreign credential evaluation agencies for an answer.

    Cheers,
    Stephanie
    Stephanie

  • Kavita Pal says:

    Hi,

    What are the qualifications needed to be done CPA? Can we do the exam in India?

    Kavita Pal

    • Stephanie says:

      Hi Kavita,
      No at this stage you have to travel to the US to take the test. Japan will be the first exam site outside of US but it is only available to Japanese nationals and US citizens living there.

      As for how to become a CPA in the US, please check out this page.

      Regards, stephanie

  • Ayub Vohra says:

    I am CA from Pakistan and registered CA student in Ontario, Canada. I passed Core knowledge exam and school of accountancy exam in Ontario but have still to pass UFE . Will I get some benefit on my credential evaluation to sit for CPA?

  • Shamnad says:

    Hello Stephanie,

    I ‘m an Indian national residing in Bahrain. Recently i saw a press release which says that I could do CPA from Bahrain. What is the eligibility for enrolling for CPA ? I hold a bachelor degree in accounting from India and is got 7+ years of work exp in accounting. Could you guide me through the whole process? I tried searchng the net of info but not very clear abt the process though I got the fee structure. Should i enroll online for classes and exam or is there an authorized agency in Bahrain? Appreciate you help!

    Thanks much! Shamnad

  • Prissi says:

    What are the best ways to go about finding Licensed CPA’s who can help a candidate complete their work requirements? Are there any special organizatons for women becoming CPA’s?

  • Stephanie says:

    Hi Prissi,
    Usually the work experience needs to be verified by your supervisor who should also be a licensed CPA. But if you are looking for a job change anyway, or that your state can have any CPA you know to verify your experience (e.g. Indiana), then you can check out the society of CPA from your state (just google the term to find out their website).

    Haven’t heard about a CPA association for women but I am sure there is and I will be happy to find it out. Will post again if I can get anything useful.

    Cheers,
    Stephanie

  • Nisha Khanna says:

    Hi Stephanie, I have enrolled myself for CPA from becker and their the registration fee is INR 70000 excluding examination fee which again will be 50000 INR, On net i read from another institute(name not mentioned) registration includes examination fee also. Is that correct.
    Secondly, the most important que i have is what strategy will you suggest for studying because i am also working full time. Thanks

    • Stephanie says:

      H Nisha, on the cost, Becker is the most expensive so it will push up the overall expense a bit further. I was told that Becker charges even more for overseas courses too. Not sure if this is the cases…

  • JoAnn says:

    Hi Stepahnie,

    Thank you for the insightful site! If I have an MBA with emphasis in Finance, could that knock off some of the educational requirements? Also, what is the timeline for the whole application/testing process? around 1 year from start to finish? or more?

    • Stephanie says:

      Yes, an MBA is great though you may need to take a close look whether you have enough accounting courses. # of credit hours will depend on the state you choose to apply to. Normally 1 year is good enough from planning, studying to passing if you plan to pass in your 1st try (you should!)

  • Malak says:

    Hey Stephanie,

    I want to ask about If i am in Lebanon and I’m finishing now the Bachelor in Accounting, soo do I need more courses or credits to regiester for CPA, and If you please can I know the univirsites that gives CPA in USA to check them .. I’m so lost I know nothing but I am thinking to do the CPA !

  • Mahmoud emam salem. says:

    What is the cost of the cpa exam in kuwait ?
    OR there is any addational cost for take the cpa exam in kuwait or dubai ?

  • rohit alavadi says:

    what is Eligibility for this course , fees or i live in jaipur contact no jaipur office what is cpa job profile

  • Nehal says:

    Hi I am a post graduate from India ,
    I have completed my M Com, please let me know I’m eligible for giving cpa exam.
    I have in all 7+years of working experience in India.

    • Stephanie Ng says:

      Hi Nehal, please refer to these pages for details:
      http:/ipassthecpaexam.com/cpa-educational-requirements/
      http:/ipassthecpaexam.com/cpa-experience-requirements/

  • Asma says:

    Hi,

    I am from an ACCA finalist plus MBA (finance) grad from Pakistan. Additionally, I am going to get a BSc hons. Degree from Oxford Brookes University soon.
    I want to pursue cpa uk preferably for Texas state. I want to know:
    What additional requirements do I need to fulfill
    Am I eligible to sit in exam conducted in U.A.E since we don’t have cpa pakistan chapter any more if so, what would be the cost that I’ll have to bear
    Can I apply for student visa and move to USA and sit in exam as an international student
    If I move to USA on L1/H1 visa, can I be considered as a local student
    Do I have any way that I study for cpa online from Pakistan and travel to u.a.e to sit in exam
    Do I get any exemptions on the basis of MBA/ACCA or BSc. Hons in applied accountancy.
    Finally, if I get through cpa do I have good chances of getting a job in USA

    Thanks
    Asma Naz

    • Stephanie Ng says:

      Hi Asma, you don’t really need to be a “student” for the CPA exam. It is a license exam, not a program. Because of this, people usually get a tourist visa to travel to the US for the exam. You can certainly study online. It is most popular way to study even for US candidates, because the exam is 100% computerized anyway and it’s much better to practice the questions online.

      Again, since it is not a program, you don’t get exemptions by having a degree. In fact, you must have a 4-year degree or above to get qualified (i.e. the other way round). For details, please check out my frequently asked page. You should be able to find all the answers there: https://ipassthecpaexam.com/cpa-faq-frequently-asked-questions/

      Regards, Stephanie

  • rohith Kumar.k says:

    Hi!I completed b.com in India and persuing m.com too.I am interested in writing CPA exam for better career.please suggest me the required hours to study per week of doing job on full-time.Also suggest me taking CPA exam is worth able for me as a indian to live in USA.Thanks in advance and waiting for your early response.

    • Stephanie Ng says:

      Hi Rohith,
      I have to say there isn’t a direct benefit as a US CPA to work aboard in the US. In my opinion, the easiest way is for you to arrange an internal transfer. The CPA license may help you on the internal transfer, but it really depends on where you work.

      As for the number of hours, very roughly speaking, please expect 300-400 hours for the 4 parts of the exam in total. We can discuss further if you plan to go ahead. Regards, Stephanie

  • Mujeeb says:

    Hi..stephanie..
    I am from india…and I am persuing ca from india but iam really interested in cpa…
    can u please tell me what will b the cost of persuing cpa from usa..
    thnks…

  • Ashraf says:

    Dear !
    I have done CA from Pakistan now interested to achieve a degree from CPA.plz guide me about it and any paper exemption will be given ?
    ICAP pakistan and CPA have any arrangement in relation to paper exemption.plz tell me the total number of paper and its exame procedure and fee structute

    • Stephanie Ng says:

      Hi Ashraf, I am afraid CA from Pakistan is not recognized for CPA exam qualification purposes, an there is also no fee exemptions. Regards, Stephanie

  • Nitasha says:

    Hi,
    I live in India, I have done BBA.Currently I am working in one of the big 4 firms. Please let me know how can I start with CPA as I want to move into accounting and tax field. When and how can I start the programme.

  • Ram says:

    Hi Mr Stephen
    This is Ram from India , wanted to do cpa and i did my BCom ,mcom and doing ca final and having 10 years of work experience companies like Mphasis Eds and all.
    Kindly suggest me weather Iam eligible for cpa, which state shalll I choose, what would be the likely expenses for whole cpa.
    Appreciate your help

    Best Regards
    Ram

  • Piyush choudhary says:

    I have cmpletd my 12 boards exam in India
    I am interestd in CPA
    What is procedure for doing this

    • Stephanie Ng says:

      Hi Piyush, you’ll need 5 years of higher education (university) to get the license. Cheers, Stephanie

  • Anand Mishra says:

    I am from India,I have completed my bachelor with commerce and I want to pursue CPA.
    Kindly plzz tell me about the approx expenditure and other requirements.

  • Shikha says:

    hii ,its shikha here…tell me i am inter qualified icmai..hav done with my 3 years articleship in india..can u tell me what i do to become cpa in australia..is there any exemption in respect in any of examination paper? Thanks

  • KRATI says:

    Hi,

    If I want to give one paper at a time do I need to pay 100 $ application fees everytime along with the subject fess?

    • Stephanie Ng says:

      Hi Krati, each state has a different application fee. But let’s say if the fee is $25 per part, then you have to pay $100 either separately or altogether. If there is a bundled discount, it is not much as far as I remember.

      In short, just take the exam one at a time and don’t worry about the financial impact. It isn’t much. Hope it helps!

  • Hina says:

    Hi Stephanie,
    I’ve done M.Com and I’m really interested in doing CPA. Is this qualification of mine enough to be eligible.
    I contacted an isstitute that provides training for the same and have been told that there’s an exam centre in dubai for CPA. They’ve also informed me that overall cost which I may incur will be roughly about US $3400. Is this information true?

    • Stephanie Ng says:

      Hi Hina, that’s about right. It depends where you plan to take the CPA exam. Assuming you are sit for the exam in Dubai, it will cost around $1,300 on exam fees, plus $100-300 for the credential evaluation report… leaving around $2000 for the study materials.

      I have recommendation that cost less than $2000, but they aren’t charging you an outrageous amount. Understand live classes are more expensive — just make sure you double check the reputation the instructor because it is the biggest factor when taking live classes. In case you are open to online courses, here is the link on the pros and cons: https://ipassthecpaexam.com/cpa-exam-review-courses/

  • Shivam Bhardwaj says:

    Hi,

    I am Shivam Bhardwaj from India. I want to give my CPA exam from Dubai. Can you brief me what gonna be my per subject exam cost from Dubai.

    Please reply

    Regards,
    Shivam

  • Prem Jain says:

    Hi I am a Indian CA finalist( yet to write my finals) I am interested in giving CPA exams…..Am I eligible to write the cpa exams at this stage as a Ca finalist…

  • sayanth says:

    Hi prem jain
    To apply for CPA exam license you should be having a 4 years accounting degree(in india you would be needing bcom+Mcom,since bcom is only 3 years degree)

  • Rahul says:

    Hi Stephanie,

    Hope you are keeping well.
    I am an international student, have completed MBA (2 year) from a leading University in UK plus CFA, CMA and FRM.

    Would I be eligible for CPA examination entry (through a state like Alaska or Washington) based on the MBA qualification.

    Thank you

  • Khusi Khusi says:

    Hi Stephanie,

    I did my master’s in business studies from Nepal. I am looking forward for pursing CPA. So I am wondering will be able to sit for CPA test.

    looking forward for your reply.

  • Sankar says:

    Hi I am based in Singapore did my PostGraduate degree in University of Madras (Chennai, India), also obtained CA Singapore, ACCA (UK), and Associate Member of CPA Australia. What kind of exemptions I may get when I register??

  • NIdheesh says:

    Hello Madam,

    I am a Indian citizen having Bachelor Degree In commerce (B.Com 3 Yrs Course) with 6 + yrs Experience as a accountant . I want Know that i am qualified or not for apply CPA. Please Reply to me if you understand my concern

    Anyway thanks for the wonderful and informative article

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