The CPA exam cost will vary from state to state. I will outline all of the main fees and expenses to give you a general idea of the cost to take the CPA exam. I will also show you how failing a section of the exam can drastically increase your CPA test cost.
You can view our CPA requirements page to get a broad overview of what is needed to get the CPA license.
CPA Exam Application Fee
Choose your state through the NASBA website and pay the fee. The fees will vary from state to state. Using California as an example, the application fee is $100. Re-application fee is $50. Many students end up paying the re-application fee because their testing window expires.
CPA Test Cost
Each section of the CPA exam will have a separate fee. These fees will be paid to NASBA.
Auditing and Attestation = $208.40
Financial Accounting and Reporting = $208.40
Regulation = $208.40
Business Environmental and Concepts = $208.40
The total CPA exam cost for all four sections = $833.60
CPA Exam Registration Fee
The registration fees will vary by state. For example, the cost of the CPA exam registration is only $75 in Florida. The registration fees in Michigan are $117 for all four examination sections or $63 for one section. The reason why a student would only register for one section is usually because that student has failed a section of the exam or the NTS (Notice to Schedule) has expired. Most students register for all four sections at the same time.
CPA Review Course Cost
Generally, you can get a discount if you purchase all four sections of a review course. To give you an idea of CPA test costs to budget, let’s use Gleim CPA Review as an example since it is the average cost.
The full course price of Gleim CPA is $1600. The cost per section is $459. You should note that most CPA review course providers do not offer free renewals. If you fail a section, you would have to pay for the materials a second time. This is a major point of frustration for most CPA students.
Ethics Exam Cost
For most states, the cost of the materials and Ethics test is $150. This will include the materials and the cost of the online exam. The fee is paid to the State board.
CPA License Fee
The CPA license fee varies from state to state. To give you a ballpark of the CPA exam cost, let’s use California as an example. In California, you would pay $250 for the CPA license. There would be an additional $49 hard copy fingerprint fee. The license fees in New York would be $375. You should budget for at least $300 in CPA license fees.
The CPA exam is tricky because there are a lot of hidden fees. Due to the structure of the exam with a limited testing window, many students end up paying for additional sections.
Let’s say that you failed one section of the CPA exam. You would pay $208.40 for that section. In addition, you would pay the CPA exam registration fee for one section which might cost $63.
On top of the official fees, you might need to pay a renewal fee for your CPA review course. Most courses do not offer free renewals. Thus, if you want access to the new material for a section that you passed, you would have to pay another $500. I generally advise that a failed section costs $750 + time value (100 hrs * $40/hr) of having to study for that section. Failure is especially expensive for the CPA exam.
Total CPA Exam Cost
I would estimate that the average cost to take the CPA exam is $2350. This assumes that at least one section of the exam has been failed. On top of the $2350 in fees to obtain the CPA license you would most likely add on another $1600 for a CPA review course. In the end you are looking at $4000 to obtain your CPA license. Once you add in your time cost of 400 hours of study time you can see that your costs of taking the CPA exam are almost $25,000. It is a substantial investment. On the bright side, it is largely a one time investment. You will have to pay license renewal fees of $50/yr + the continuing education fees. However, for the most part, the investment is made up front.