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Where Can You Study for Free in Another Country?

Find out where you can study abroad for the least amount of money. As university fees continue to rise in many parts of the world, you might think that getting a degree that is recognized in your home country or abroad is impossible without a four- or five-figure budget or a scholarship.

You’ll be happy to know that this isn’t always true. There are a lot of places in the world where students can study abroad for free or for a very low price. Just look in the right places.

Below is a list of countries that offer low-cost or free tuition, along with information on who is eligible and what (low) fees you can expect to pay.

Germany

It seems like more and more people want to study abroad in Germany. This is mostly because there are no tuition fees for first-year students at most public universities in Germany. This is true for both German students and students from other countries. Only a small fee of about €150-250 (US$170-280) is charged by the university to cover administrative costs.

The state of Baden-Württemberg in south-west Germany is the only exception. In the fall of 2017, tuition fees were put back in place for students from outside the EU/EEA. These students have to pay €1,500 (about US$1,660) each semester, or €3,000 (about US$3,320) each year. PhD students and refugees are not affected, and the fees for people getting a second degree have been cut to €650 (about US$720) per semester, or €1,300 (about US$1,440) per year. As a way to invest in and improve university education, it’s possible that other German states will follow suit and bring back fees in the future.

The low cost of studying in Germany, along with its strong economy and excellent higher education system, makes the idea of going to school there very appealing to students and their parents all over the world. In the QS World University Rankings, more than 40 German universities are among the best in the world. Again, only the US and UK universities are better, with the Technical University of Munich coming in first.

Even if you find a university in Germany where you can study for free, you will still need to save money for living costs. If you need a German student visa, you’ll need to show that you have around €10,236 (about US$11,330) per year for living costs, since the average student spends €850 (about US$940) per month.

Munich and Berlin, two of the best places to study in Germany, were also named two of the 30 most affordable places to study in the QS Best Student Cities 2019 list.

France

France may not be as well-known as Germany for affordable higher education, but international students may be surprised to learn that they can also study in France for free (or for a very low cost), no matter where they are from.

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Public universities in France do charge fees, but they are much lower than in most other countries. For EU/EEA/Swiss students, the cost of an undergraduate degree is just €170 (about US$190) per year.

But starting in the 2019/20 school year, students from outside the EU/EEA will have to pay more. For a bachelor’s degree, fees will go up to €2,770 (about US$3,065) per year. But the French government will triple the number of scholarships it gives to students from other countries, from 7,000 to 21,000.

Extra fees can make the cost of your studies go up, but not by much. This is especially true for more specialized programs like medicine and engineering. But if you want to study at a top grande école, you can expect fees to be very different.

Like in Germany, most free programs in France that give you the chance to study there are taught in the native language. But there are getting more and more chances to study in English, especially at the graduate level. You could also go to a preparatory school to improve your French before starting your degree, but this will cost you money.

The cost of living in France is also not too high, at about €9,600 (US$10,620) per year, though you can expect to pay more if you choose to live in Paris, the country’s capital.

Study for free in the Nordic countries

Sweden The Nordic countries in northern Europe are known for their high quality of life, beautiful nature, and liberal politics. They also have some of the best higher education systems in the world. Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden all have places where you can study for free or for a low price:

University education in Norway is free for all students, no matter what level they are in or where they are from. Like in Germany, you will only have to pay a semester fee, which will be somewhere between NOK 300 and NOK 600 (about US$33 and US$66). Most first-year programs are only taught in Norwegian, and international students must show that they can speak Norwegian well to be able to study at this level. At the master’s and Ph.D. levels, English language programs are much more common, and they still offer free tuition.

The four public universities in Iceland don’t charge tuition fees. Instead, they charge a registration fee of about ISK 75,000 (US$600) a year.

Denmark, Sweden, and, most recently, Finland only offer free higher education to students from the EU/EEA and Switzerland. This means that bachelor’s and master’s students from outside these areas have to pay tuition fees. But PhD programs in these countries are fully funded, which means that outstanding PhD candidates can get their degree without having to pay tuition and earn a salary. Even if you’re not from the EU or EEA, you can still study in Finland for free if you study Swedish or Finnish.

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Denmark, Sweden, and Finland all have different bachelor’s and master’s fees for people from other countries. In Denmark, university fees range from DKK 45,000 to DKK 120,000 per year (about US$6,670 to US$17,800), while in Sweden, most courses cost between SEK 80,000 and SEK 145,000 (about US$8,200 to US$14,870). Finland’s new tuition fees are at least €1,500 (about US$1,700) per year, but most students will pay between €6,000 and €18,000 (about US$6,640 and US$19,900) per year.

But what about the cost of living? Well, this is the catch: Northern Europe has some of the highest living costs on the continent. This is mostly because the economy is strong and the Nordic currencies are strong. When the streets are clean and people are happy, it might not be so bad to pay more for living. Copenhagen, Helsinki, Oslo, and Stockholm have been named as some of the best student cities in the world.

Austria

Austria is another place in Europe where students can study for free or for a very low price. EU/EEA students have the same rights as Austrians when it comes to the cost of higher education, and they can study for free at any degree level. After this point, students only pay €363 per semester. International students from outside the EU/EEA can expect to pay about €726 (US$803) more per semester in tuition fees. All students will spend about €11,400 (US$12,600) a year on living costs. The QS Best Student Cities 2019 list put Vienna, the capital of Austria, at number 13.

Belgium

Belgium has two main language groups, and each of them has a different view on university fees. EU students, on the other hand, will pay no more than €906 a year. Even though EU students get the most out of being able to study in Europe for free, non-EU international students can still study there for around €4,175 (about US$4,620) per year. About €11,400 (US$12,600) a year is enough money to live in Belgium. In this year’s QS Best Student Cities list, the capital city, Brussels, tied for 43rd place.

Czech Republic

Students who speak Czech can go to any public university in the Czech Republic and study there for free. Students who want to study in English can do so for about €4,000 to €12,000 (about $4,425 to $13,275) per year. At about $9,000 per year, living costs are lower than in many countries in western Europe. Prague, the capital of the Czech Republic, is tied for 35th place on the list of QS Best Student Cities.

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Greece

Students from the EU/EEA can go to public universities and colleges in Greece for free, with the exception of some master’s programs. Students from outside the EU can also get a low-cost college education, which costs about €1,500 (US$1,660) per year. The cost of living in Greece is one of the lowest in the EU.

Italy

Even though private universities in Italy are known to have high tuition costs, public universities in Italy are much cheaper, with undergraduate programs costing between €900 and €4,000 (about $995 and $4,420) per year. EU students have access to the same kinds of loans, grants, scholarships, and fee waivers as Italian students. In the most recent QS Best Student Cities list, Milan came in at number 40, while Rome, the capital, came in at number 70.

Spain

EU students don’t have to pay a lot to go to school in Spain, but international students can study at public schools for between €750 and €2,500 (US$830-2,760) per year. Fees are charged per credit, and at the graduate level, they can be more. You can expect to spend between €10,800 and €13,200 a year to live in Spain, which is about US$11,940 to US$14,600. The QS Best Student Cities list includes Madrid, Barcelona, and Valencia. Barcelona is the highest-ranked of the three, coming in at number 21.

There are other free places to study abroad (or at low cost)

Argentina

Universities are free for all Argentinian students, but international students will have to pay a small fee to attend a public university in the country. On the other hand, private schools in Argentina can charge more than $5,000 a year. The QS Best Student Cities 2019 list puts Buenos Aires, the capital of Argentina, at number 31.

India

In India, most international students won’t pay more than US$7,300 a year in tuition fees. However, private universities and graduate schools tend to charge more. The cost of living in India is likely to be very appealing to most students. According to Numbeo, consumer prices in India are 163% less than in the UK, and rental prices are up to 3910% less. Overall, you should be able to live well on $4,300 a year or less. But it’s important to know that international students can’t work in India while they study there.

Taiwan

Taiwan’s tuition costs are a great deal because the programs at its best universities are very cheap. For example, in 2017/18, National Taiwan University (NTU), which is ranked 69th in the world by QS World University Rankings and is the best university in the area, charged undergraduate students only TW$100,920–124,200 (about US$3,200–3,965) per year. Taipei was ranked 17th in the world and 14th for affordability in the 2019 QS Best Student Cities list.

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