Best Countries to Get a Free or Affordable College Degree Abroad

The high cost of college tuition has been a big issue in this year’s presidential campaign.  According to the College Board, tuition and other costs associated with college averaged around $32,000 per year for private colleges, about $10,000 per year for in-state students at public colleges, and nearly $24,000 per year for out-of-state students attending a public university.

Bernie Sanders has made a lot of young people “feel the Bern” with his promise of making college free, as it is in many European countries.

College Tuition in EuropeNot only are public universities free in many countries in Europe, and around the world, some offer that benefit to foreigners. Even countries where college isn’t free often offer bargain tuition rates. According to CNN Mone the majority of European schools cost less than $2,225 a year to attend.

According to Beyond the States, a group that helps American students study abroad, more than 300 schools in Europe offer bachelor’s programs in English, with tuition averaging $7,291 per year. Furthermore, the website says many students finish their studies in less than four years, which adds to their savings.

That has led to some American students making the decision to study abroad. Not only can attending college in a foreign country save money, it also provides an opportunity to meet new people, learn a language, or practice a language you’ve been studying, and experience a new culture. In addition to receiving high quality education abroad, the experience of living and studying in a foreign country will look good on a resume.

While attending college in a different country is adventurous and exciting, it comes with some challenges. The experience can be quite different: Fraternities and sororities are rare overseas. It won’t be easy to travel home during breaks and holidays, which means you might miss family and friends. You might want to consider studying abroad for a semester before committing three or four years overseas.

Here are a few factors to consider before making the decision to study abroad:

1. Language barrier. While many overseas schools offer courses with the goal of attracting American and British students, you can’t count on people outside of the classroom speaking English. Ask yourself if you don’t speak the language of the country you’re going to, how willing are you to learn? How will you feel if don't fluently speak the language?

2. Yes, you’ll save money on tuition living overseas, but do some research into the cost of living in the country you’re moving to. How much is rent? How about food? Will you want to travel home during holidays or for special occasions?

3. Is your personality suited to living in a foreign country? Some people are adventurous and live for exciting new experiences like studying abroad. Are you extraverted and comfortable going to new places on your own or are you the shy type who is comfortable with a routine?

With all that in mind, here are the top 10 countries where U.S. citizens can attend college for free, or for a very low cost.

1. Germany: Germany offers highly regarded public universities at no cost, and fortunately, Americans can study there without having to learn the German language. Many courses of study are offered in English, to better prepare German-born students for doing business in America and the U.K. Germany also wants to attract English-speaking students because the country wants to draw Americans and people from English-speaking European countries, into its workforce.

2. France: You’re not likely to get a free education in France, but the country offers English undergraduate programs, and many more graduate degrees to foreigners. Private universities in France can be quite costly, but public universities there are very affordable. Even the cost of some of the country’s most elite schools is pretty affordable, about $15,000 a year, compared to schools in the U.S.

3. Norway: Foreigners who study at universities in Norway don’t pay tuition. Additionally, you can study in English, and enjoy smaller class sizes. However, Norway has a high cost of living for expats, and winters there can be harsher than most Americans are used to.

4. Slovenia: While Slovenia is a vacation destination for many Europeans, it’s also becoming a draw for students. The country has increased resources at its universities in recent years, and foreign nationals attending school there pay only a registration fee of about 30 Euros per year. Several schools there offer programs in English, including the University of Ljubljani and the University of Nova Gorica.

5. Brazil: Brazil offers free tuition to citizens and foreigners only pay a small registration fee. Furthermore, public universities in Brazil enjoy excellent reputations with the University of Sao Paulo and the State University of Campinas being named among the world’s best. Although Americans will be able to find courses of study that are taught in English, it will be harder to participate in activities and enjoy a social life without speaking Portuguese.

Another consideration is that more young people are attending college in Brazil, and more middle-class and upper-class students are attending public universities because of their reputations. That means fewer spots for poorer people at the country’s more affordable schools, which led to protests at some schools.

6. Finland: Finland offers free tuition, and plenty of programs in English. Located in northern Europe, the country offers scenic beauty and a lot of charm. If you like winter sports, this is the place for you, as skiing and snowboarding are very popular there. However, time is running out for free tuition for Americans. Starting in August of 2017, students from non-European Union countries will have to pay a minimum of 1,500 Euros, about $1,700 per year. According to the website, Study in Finland, the actual cost could be much more, because universities will set their own prices, but there’s a still a good chance that these tuitions will be significantly lower than their U.S. counterparts.

7. Sweden: Undergraduate study isn’t free in Sweden, but it’s affordable, around $10,000 per year, with plenty of options for English-speaking students. Schools there have excellent reputations, and scholarships also are available. Once students have completed undergraduate and graduate degrees, Ph.D. programs are free. Sweden also draws Americans because most people there speak English, and it’s ideal for nature-lovers and people who love active sports, such as walking, hiking, skiing, and camping.

8. Taiwan: While not exactly free, tuition is very affordable, about $1,600 to $2,000 per year. National Taiwan University is considered one of the best schools in the country. About 10 percent of its students are from foreign countries, and its core curriculum includes English and Chinese. Learning Chinese has a significant benefits in today’s world as well.

9. India: College in India is a bargain compared to the cost in U.S., and it’s even better considering the cost of living in the country. The entire cost of living, including college fees, can be as low as around $5,000 a year. It’s an especially good choice for people interested in studying engineering and technology.

10. Argentina: The country’s affordable college is offset to some degree by an increased cost of living in recent years. Still, it’s a great place to learn Spanish, and a top destination thanks to culture and scenic beauty.

The key goal of any education is preparing students for a career in their chosen field. If the expat life is something that appeals to you, an education at a foreign country is a great step. It also can help with careers that involve international work, such as diplomat, ambassador, or working in the world of business. Find out the best countries for work-life balance and why millennials are moving there.

One important consideration when studying or working abroad is a student’s insurance needs. Students going abroad should find out what their university plan covers for property and health insurance. They may need property insurance for expensive items like laptops and cell phones or renter’s insurance.  Domestic policies might not provide full coverage, so consider additional coverage abroad. Clements’ International Property Insurance covers items damaged during a move, during travel or while inside your home abroad.

Students also should think about portable health insurance when traveling and visiting their home country. Clements’ GlobalCare International Health Insurance is ideal for students living internationally for six months or longer. It’s portable, so that you can take insurance across borders and offers options, including dental, accidental death and dismemberment and war and terrorism-related injuries. 

In addition to insurance, it’s important to investigate your new country’s laws, file applications for passports and visas, and gather other important documents. To help guide you on the process of moving abroad, check out Clements’ international moving checklist

Call us today at +1.202.872.0060 or 800.872.0067 or e-mail request@clements.com to discuss your insurance needs.

Best Countries for Work-Life Balance and Why Millennials are Moving There