CPA Exam Cost: What Can You Expect to Spend?

cpa exam cost

The CPA exam cost is an investment in your professional future. Earning a CPA credential will provide a return on investment for every dollar you spend. 

If you’re interested in how to become a CPA, making sure you meet the CPA exam requirements and then taking the test will be the most important step in the process.

However, taking the CPA exam can be expensive. Knowing up front how much you will have to spend to launch your professional accounting career will help you plan ahead.

Many people have to take the exam multiple times to pass. The FAR CPA exam section, in particular, is notorious for its difficulty. (Check out our FAR CPA exam study tips for more info on this section of the test.)

From CPA fees to CPA review courses, you don’t want to be hit with unexpected costs.

If you want to make the above-average pay of a certified public accountant, it’s worth it to invest in the CPA exam. This article will help you understand everything you can expect to spend along the way.

How much does the CPA exam cost?

how much does the cpa exam cost

There are a few different types of CPA test costs, including: 

  1. Study aids to pass the CPA exam: Spending money on CPA review courses, study materials, and expert coaching can help you pass the first time. If you spend the right amount of money on studying, you won’t fail and have to pay twice for exam fees.
     
  2. CPA test cost: The total CPA exam fees can include the CPA registration fee and other CPA candidate costs listed below. California CPA requirements also include taking a separate ethics exam, present in some US states, but not others.
  3. Professional fees: To be a licensed CPA, you will pay ongoing AICPA membership fees and other costs associated with your CPA license.

This table provides an overview of one-time and recurring fee estimates.

Total Costs to Become a CPA

Fee TypePriceApproximate Cost For YouPaid To
CPA review course and study materialsIf studying for individual sections, you could pay between $400-$700 per part.
If studying for the entire four-part exam, you could pay between $1,300-$3,400 for a CPA review course.
Keep in mind there could be an extra cost for add-on features, coaching or extended access.
$1,300-$3,400CPA review course providers
CPA exam application feeThe application fee varies by state, but will likely be about $75 per section.$300**Varies by state
CPA background checkSome states require candidates to take a background check. These fees may be incorporated into the CPA exam fee or paid separately.$1-$49*Varies by state
CPA registration feesEach CPA exam section has a separate registration fee. These fees average $120 for each section.$400+ for all four sections**Varies by state
CPA examination feesIn most states, the CPA exam fees are separate from the registration fees. These can be an average of $200 per exam.$800**Varies by state
CPA ethics exam feesSome states require an ethics exam in conjunction with the CPA exam. This is not required in all states. If it is necessary in your state, it will cost between $150-$200.$175AICPA

Additional Fees You May Be Required to Pay

Fee TypePriceApproximate Cost For YouPaid To
Retaking the examOn average, it will cost $300 per section to retake the CPA exam.
Keep in mind that there are stipulations for retaking the CPA exam.
$300 per sectionAICPA
CPA reschedule feeIf you reschedule more than 30 days in advance of your test date, you may avoid fees. However, if you need to reschedule within five to 30 days, you will pay $35. If you reschedule between one and four days before your test date, you will pay full exam fees.$35AICPA
Fee for international siteParticipating areas outside of the United States can still host the CPA exam, but an additional fee of $356.55 per section will apply.$356.55 per sectionNASBA
Foreign credential evaluationInternational or foreign credential evaluation will cost $225.$225NASBA

Full breakdown of the CPA certification costs

The above chart breaks down the average CPA cost for taking the exam, including resources to help you pass the CPA exam, ethics exam and some CPA certification requirements. 

Because each state requires different fees, and some people need to retake or reschedule sections of the exam, you need to consider these variables. All of these possibilities make your bottom line less clear. 

The following section provides a detailed explanation of each expense to help you calculate your final cost.

CPA review course price

The largest single expense of the CPA for most people involves exam preparation. If you want to pass all four sections of the CPA on the first try — and avoid paying to retake the CPA exam — plan to dedicate a significant amount of time and effort to your studies. 

As you determine your personal CPA certification cost, you should start with the price of a CPA review course

Here is an overview of some of the popular online review courses that you can purchase. To learn more about choosing the right course for your needs and budget, check out our CPA Course Review Comparison.

Course NamePrice for All Four PartsPrice for Individual Parts
Surgent CPA Review Course$1,599-$2999$599
Wiley CPAexcel CPA Review Course$2,100-$2,800$800
Becker CPA Review Course$2,399-$3,499n/a
Roger CPA Review Course$1,899-$2,999$649
Gleim CPA Review Course$1,599-$1,999$459-$599
Ninja CPA Review Course$67/month (subscription only)n/a
Yaeger CPA Review Course$1,849$499
Lambers CPA Review Coursen/a$249

The best CPA review courses include a variety of essential features to prepare you to pass the CPA exam. These include:

  • Intuitive software to customize your study experience
  • App and smart device integrations
  • A large multiple-choice test bank
  • A large task-based simulation bank
  • Practice tests
  • Flashcards
  • Textbooks
  • Video lectures
  • Audio lectures
  • Study planners
  • Support and coaching
  • Test readiness measurement

CPA exam application fee

Each state has CPA exam application fees. These vary but are typically $225. 

Before you make this investment, you will have to determine your eligibility. This process may require that you send transcripts to a state board. Every state has unique eligibility requirements. The National Association of State Boards of Accountancy offers a CPA Exam Quiz that will help you determine if you are eligible to take the CPA exam.

It’s important to determine eligibility before applying for the exam. Here is a general timeline of that process:

  1. Take the quiz to determine your eligibility
  2. Eligibility is confirmed by an Authorization to Test (ATT), after which you are allowed to schedule
  3. Pay your exam application fees to the state board
  4. Receive your Notice to Schedule (NTS)
  5. Use the launch code on your NTS to register for the CPA exam
  6. After you have studied and you’re ready, schedule your CPA exam in one of the four annual test windows

CPA registration fees

In addition to the initial application fee, in 52 states you will have to pay a registration or exam fee for each section. Gaining a CPA certification means passing each of the four sections with a score of 75 or more.

You must take all four sections within 18 months of each other. This knowledge will help you pace your studying accordingly.

The fees vary by state but may be about $75 per section. Some states are significantly higher, up to over $1,000 for all four sections. Because this is an investment, you should feel locked into your exam date. This may incentivize you to stick to your study schedule so that you can pass all four sections without having to retake anything.

CPA exam fees

Registration fees give you access to the exams. To actually sit for the CPA exam, you will pay another fee. The CPA exam fee can be about $208 per section, for a total of around $832. This will vary depending on your state.

This exam fee covers the AICPA scoring, Prometric testing facility, security fees, and the NASBA database and reporting integration.

CPA ethics exam fees

In some states, candidates will have to take an ethics exam. This is to ensure adherence to professional codes of conduct as well as their accounting rules and regulations. Most frequently, the state board will provide study texts and there will be an exam with multiple-choice questions. For states with this requirement, you will have to pay for this exam as well as the CPA exam. 

While these fees vary by state, they may be between $150-$200. The AICPA may offer a discount for members. It’s important to note that in states with a CPA ethics exam, it is mandatory both for first-time and renewed CPA licenses.

Additional fees for Guam and international locations

People who reside outside of the United States will have additional fees for the CPA exam. Additional fees for Guam and international locations include surcharges for testing. In Guam, the charge will currently be an additional $140 per section, or $70 if paid in person. Other international locations to take the CPA exam include:

  • CPA exam in England
  • CPA exam in Scotland
  • CPA exam in Ireland
  • CPA exam in Germany
  • CPA exam in Japan
  • CPA exam in Brazil
  • CPA exam in Bahrain
  • CPA exam in Kuwait
  • CPA exam in Lebanon
  • CPA exam in the United Arab Emirates

The testing process is the same in regard to eligibility and parts of the test. The international testing fees have to be paid in addition to domestic testing fees. The added fees are $356.55 per section of the CPA exam.

Foreign credential evaluations

In addition to paying international fees, students in countries other than the United States have to undergo the NASBA International Evaluation. Country-specific requirements are available on their website

Generally, you will be able to apply online, pay fees, and have your eligibility validated for one year. In many states, the NASBA International Evaluation Services is the only provider of this validation. The cost for this is $225.

Travel and accommodations

You will take the CPA exam at a Prometric testing site. Depending on where you live, you may have to travel to take the test. This could incur additional costs in terms of travel and accommodations. 

You want to make sure you are well-rested and clear-minded to take the CPA exam. If you will have to travel, include planning for a stress-free trip in your budget.

Recurring fees after successfully taking the CPA exam

recurring fees after cpa exam

Passing the CPA exam is a relief and a triumph. However, it is not the end of your expenses.

As in many professions, accounting professionals invest in ongoing licensing fees and continuing education. These costs are part of the price of being an accountant. Here is a breakdown of those fees and ongoing costs.

CPA licensing fees

CPA licensing fees are the same thing as a CPA membership fee. State fees may include  AICPA membership fees. The CPA license fee is paid to your state board. This is mandatory for anyone who wants to practice accounting within the state. 

In many states, licensing fees include:

  • Annual CPA license registration
  • Firm permit fees

If you move to a different state, you will probably have to pay fees to your new home state. Depending on the nature of your practice, at some point you may have to pay a state board a reciprocal CPA license fee or pay for a reinstatement of your CPA certification or license.

CPA continuing professional education (CPE)

Continuing professional education (CPE) will be part of the ongoing cost of being an accountant. This is not uncommon and everyone from medical doctors to educators are required to stay current through ongoing training. 

The AICPA offers continuing education units. While the specific requirements for CPEs will vary across states, you can obtain these credits in similar ways:

  • Online courses
  • Live webinars
  • Conferences
  • Online courses
  • Sponsored courses at an educational institution

The fees will vary based on how you earn these credits. They can cost between $20-$125 per hour. Depending on your state hourly CPE requirements, you may pay $1,000 or more per year for continuing education.

CPA exam fee discounts and refunds

discounts and refunds

The system of studying for and taking the CPA exam is one that requires investments of every kind. From your studies to your checkbook, you will have to spend time and money to pass the CPA exam. 

The CPA exam fees are fixed. There are no refunds. Once you have paid any of the fees explained above, you will not get your money back. 

Your CPA exam fees are paid to a variety of organizations, including:

  • Prometric test center
  • CPA exam review course companies
  • State boards
  • NASBA
  • AICPA

The only caveat is the possibility of reimbursement for members of the military.

Conclusion

Passing the CPA exam is a noteworthy achievement that will provide a path to a good income and stable career. The work and investment will pay off. When you understand what that financial investment will be before you begin, you’ll be starting off prepared.

To review, here are the presumed fees and average costs. Keep in mind that costs are calculated based on general state averages and may vary widely. This is simply meant to give you a general idea of the investment you will make as you prepare for the CPA exam.

Type of FeeAverage/Estimated Cost
CPA review course$1,300-$3,400
CPA exam application fee$300
CPA registration fees$400
CPA exam fees$800
CPA ethics exam fees$175

FAQs

cpa exam cost faqs

How much does it cost to take the CPA exam?

There are a variety of costs and fees for taking the CPA exam. Many of these fees vary depending on the state in which you are taking the test. When you are ready to take the CPA exam, you will invest by paying for:

  • CPA review course
  • CPA exam application fee
  • CPA registration fees
  • CPA exam fees
  • CPA ethics exam fees

In total, this entire process could cost you around $3,500.

What are the fees for the CPA exam?

As you register for taking the CPA exam, you will pay fees to: 

  1. National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA)
  2. American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA)
  3. Prometrics testing center
  4. State boards of accountancy

The fees will vary depending on which state you live in. At minimum, they will include:

  • CPA exam application fee: average of $300 but varies with each state
  • CPA registration fees: average of $400 but varies with each state
  • CPA exam fees: average of $200 per part of the exam but varies with each state

Some states require an additional ethics exam, which will cost about $175. If you live internationally, you will pay almost double the amount for each section of the CPA exam. 

How much do CPA review courses cost?

CPA review courses may be essential to passing the CPA exam. These courses are designed to help you accelerate your progress and pass the CPA exam on the first try. Featuring interactive software, video courses, reading material, test simulations and more, CPA exam reviews are a great tool to help you prepare for the exam.

A quality CPA review course can be purchased to cover all four parts or in individual sections. For all four parts, you will probably pay between $1,200-$3,000. Individual parts can be purchased for around $500 each.

Is becoming a CPA worth it?

Becoming a CPA is a valuable career that will grow with time. New CPAs may make around $65,000. That salary can quickly improve with larger firms and more time spent in the field. You can click here to view ZipRecruiter’s CPA salary averages by state.

Can you be a CPA without a degree?

Every state has different requirements for eligibility to take the CPA exam and become a CPA. For most states, this includes a bachelor’s degree or at least 150 hours of college credit in a relevant field. In some states, you can be eligible after working in public accounting directly with a CPA. You will want to review the requirements for your state to learn whether or not a college degree is necessary.

Is the CPA the most expensive accounting certification?

There are a few different kinds of accounting certifications. These include:

  • Certified Public Accountant (CPA)
  • Certified Financial Analyst (CFA)
  • Certified Management Accountant (CMA)
  • Enrolled Agent (EA)
  • Certified Internal Auditor (CIA)

These certifications each carry different costs to achieve and have different levels of prestige and career paths. CPA licenses are one of the most useful for accounting. It is the most general certification you can receive and gives you access to the broadest scope of work. 

The CPA is not the most expensive accounting certification. Average costs to become a CFA far exceed the CPA.

Will my firm pay for my CPA review materials?

Many accounting firms will subsidize or cover some of the costs associated with taking the CPA exam. This is because this valuable certification will increase your value to their business. Many CPA review courses partner with large organizations and offer employee benefits. This is a question to ask directly to your superior or HR department and learn about the CPA exam and continuing education benefits they may offer.

How much does it cost to take the CPA exam in California?

CPA exam fees in California are regulated by the California state board of accountancy. Overall, California CPA requirements are unique compared to other states.

For the CPA exam, you will pay the following:

  • $100 application fee
  • $65 fingerprinting fee
  • Auditing and Attestation (AUD) is $193.45
  • Business Environments and Concepts (BEC) is $193.45
  • Financial Accounting and Reporting (FAR) is $193.35
  • Regulation (REG) is $193.45

It’s important to note that the state of California also requires the professional ethics exam. Once you have a CPA license, you will pay $120 in annual fees to continue practicing accounting in the state. If you have to retake the exam, you will pay $25 plus the exam fees.

How much does it cost to take the CPA exam in New York?

CPA exam cost in NY will cover the cost of taking the CPA exam in compliance with New York state regulations. You will pay:

  • $125 application fee
  • Auditing and Attestation (AUD) is $193.45
  • Business Environments and Concepts (BEC) is $176.25
  • Financial Accounting and Reporting (FAR) is $195.35
  • Regulation (REG) is $176.25

In New York, your Notice to Schedule (NTS) expires six months after it’s issued. This means that you should only pay for exams that you will take within six months. There is no ethics exam in the state of New York, so that will not be an additional cost.

How much does it cost to take the CPA exam in Texas?

CPA exam cost in Texas will follow the guidelines of the state board of accountancy. To take the CPA exam in Texas, you will pay:

  • $50 application fee
  • Auditing and Attestation (AUD) is $208.40
  • Business Environments and Concepts (BEC) is $208.40
  • Financial Accounting and Reporting (FAR) is $208.40
  • Regulation (REG) is $208.40

In Texas, each time you sit you have to pay $15 for each part of the exam. This is an eligibility application fee.

How much does it cost to take the CPA exam in Illinois?

Illinois CPA exam fees cover the application and testing fees. These are set by the Illinois state board of accountancy. To take the CPA exam in Illinois, you will pay:

  • $120 application fee
  • Auditing and Attestation (AUD) is $193.35
  • Business Environments and Concepts (BEC) is $176.25
  • Financial Accounting and Reporting (FAR) is $195.35
  • Regulation (REG) is $176.25

Illinois requires a credentialing evaluation for first-time CPA candidates. This can cost between $175 and $250. There is also an ethics exam, which costs $169.

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