Posted by: Kaplan Schweser
Updated: January 28, 2021
The cost of the CFA® Program starts at $2,550 USD, which includes a one-time enrollment fee and discounted early registration. But that might not be enough to earn you the CFA charter. Investing more than the bare minimum can increase your odds of passing the exam. This article explains all the costs and why you are likely to benefit from spending more than just the basic fees…
To earn the CFA charter, you must enroll in the CFA Program and then take and pass three exams.
When you register for the Level I CFA exam, you will pay a one-time enrollment fee of $450 USD. That gets you into the CFA Program.
You will pay an additional registration fee to sit for the exam at each of the three levels. As of 2020, the fees for each level of the CFA exams from CFA Institute are:
Depending on when you register, you can pay anywhere from $2,100 to $3,000 USD total to take all three levels, assuming that you pass each exam the first time. Add the $450 USD enrollment fee, and the total CFA exam fees range from $2,550 to $5450 USD.
Compared to earning an MBA at a top university, which can cost as much as $60,000-$100,000, the CFA Program looks like a steal, no matter when you register. However, the CFA exams are not offered in every city, so you might need to add the costs of traveling to the nearest city into the exam fees.
As we mentioned, not passing a level of the CFA exam means that you have invested your registration fees for nothing. If you are determined to become a charterholder, you will have to pay the same registration fee to take the exam or exams you failed again. And because only 20% of the people who start out in the CFA Program end up earning the charter, and few pass all three levels on the first try, you might have to take at least one level of the exam again and allot funds for that purpose.
While there are no guarantees that you will pass all three levels of the CFA exam the first time around, you can significantly increase your odds by investing in an exam preparation package or course. Interestingly, the price of the top offerings range from $649 to $1,499, which are within the range of the money you might be allotting as a contingency for failing the exam. These packages include practice questions, online resources, in-person and online classes, reviews, and, in some cases, mock exams.
If you go all out and purchase packages for all three levels, you’ll spend between $1,947 and $4,497 to greatly increase your chances of earning the charter. And when you think about it, that is still much less than you would spend earning that MBA.