July 07, 2020

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CPA Exam Cost and License Fees

CPA Exam Cost and License Fees

Before you are considered a CPA, you need not only to study a lot, but also invest a significant amount of your finances. From applying to the exam to receiving your official CPA license, there are lots of fees involved. However, don’t let the financial burden deter you away from accomplishing such a huge goal! Passing a CPA is a life changer and a turning point in a lot of people’s lives. 

An individual who has a CPA license has a much wider job opportunities, both in the United States and internationally, and can even open his or her own practice. Promotions, higher salary and a greater degree of job security are some of the other advantages of investing your time and money into acquiring this license. In fact, it is such a valuable certification that many public accounting firms, private industries and even government agencies will cover these costs for you.

Study Materials

One of the first things you need to do is to buy courses and other materials for studying. You might be surprised that it is going to be the most expensive part of your CPA license journey. One of the things you need to keep in mind is that you need to analyze your learning style and buy only materials that will help you prepare for the exam. 

The cost of study materials can vary between $2,000 and $4,000, depending on what you pick. You can also save by catching sale deals and some companies will even cover your CPA costs for their employees. We reviewed some of the most popular study packages and their prices:

  • Becker – from $2,399 to $3,499
  • Surgent – from $1,599 to $2,999
  • Wiley – from $1,799 to $2,499
  • Gleim – from $999 to $1,999
  • Roger – $1,699

Application Fees

You will need to submit an application before you can schedule the examination The fee for this application is different for each US state. Plan to pay between $50 and $200. This money will go to the state board. 

Note that although this is a one-time fee, you might need to pay it more than once. Why? If you do not follow the application process correctly, your application might get rejected. In addition, once you receive a Notice to Schedule, you need to schedule your CPA exam/s within specified time. If you do not do it on time (usually within six months), you will need to apply once more. As a result, you might end up paying the application fee again. 

CPA Exam Cost

A CPA candidate has to pass a four-part examination in one and a half years to be eligible for a CPA license. You will schedule each section of the exam separately and pay a separate fee for each as well. Just like with the application fee, you pay a different amount depending on which state you take the exam in. On average, this fee is $200 for each section. Since many individuals need to retake some sections of this exam, you might end up paying more, so study well to avoid paying additional money.

CPA Exam Cost and License Fees

Registration Fees

You will have to pay a registration fee for each section of the exam. It will also need to check the fee for your particular state, but it is about $100. It is possible to pay less in registration fees. However, this means that you will need to take more than one exam during the valid period of the Notice to Schedule. If you would like to reschedule an exam, there will be an additional fee. More info can be found on the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy’s official website.

Ethics Exam Fees

You might also be required to take an ethics exam before you can get your license. If this is the case for your state, you will obviously need to study for it, which is much easier than the CPA exam studying, and pay about $100-$200 for the exam itself. You can find out more about this exam on the Association of International Certified Professional Accountants’ official website.

Licensing Fees

Now that you finally passed all three exams, you can get your licensing. As with all the other fees, your CPA licensing fees will also vary greatly from state to state. You can pay as little as $50 or as much as $500. This license will need to be renewed every year to be able to work as a CPA, sign tax returns and audit reports, etc. Accordingly, you will pay the licensing fee every year.

CPA Exam Cost and License Fees

Continuing Professional Education

Studying for your CPA exam was just the beginning of your learning journey. You will need to continue learning about the new laws and other changes and just maintaining your knowledge on a professional level. This will bring additional spendings that you need to budget for every year. 

Each state has slightly different requirements on how many study credits you need to acquire each year and which courses, seminars, and other learning activities qualify for the Continuing Professional Education requirements, which are published by an American Institute of CPAs.

You need to plan to spend about $1,000 every year to satisfy this requirement. To save some money, look for opportunities to earn free CPE credits or for courses that are not as expensive. Keep in mind that it is in your best interest to take courses that are the most relevant to your practice. 

Additional Fees

The above fees are standard among all states. However, every single state is completely different. There are no two identical states. Thus, you might be surprised by some additional fees. Although they are not usually significant, you might still need to pay them. International candidates should be prepared to pay additional fees during any stage of this process.

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Author: Charles Lutwidge

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