FEA Analysis costs less than the traditional build and test approach in almost all cases. The bulk of FEA cost is labour, followed by software then hardware.
An experienced and commercially aware FE Analyst will identify where cost savings can be made on labour and may write an analysis plan to formalise this.
FEA Software can be purchased or leased and becomes more expensive for more advanced analysis.
The hardware costs are relatively trivial. A good workstation costs a few thousand pounds and has a couple of years’ useful life. However, more advanced analysis requires a high specification workstation / cluster and these can be expensive.
If you have a limited budget it is usually better to obtain a fixed price. If you're more concerned with project lead time, then an hourly rate arrangement may be more suitable to reduce the paperwork involved with fixed price.
The cost of the FEA also depends on the component or assembly in question and the answers you need to know. More advanced analysis is more expensive than simple linear static analysis.
Every FEA project is unique so the cost cannot be generalised. Sometimes good old hand calculations can save you money and sometimes they just won't give you the level of detail that you need.