College in America is expensive, and don’t we know it. Frankly, it’s even expensive in the United Kingdom, where international tuitions regularly run from $25,000-30,000 a year, although that’s approximately the price of an American state school. It’s even expensive in Canada, where prices run at about $20,000 per year. It’s still expensive in France, where even significant governmental aid to everybody, including international students, still regularly makes tuition run around $5,000 a year. Some parents have that kind of money in the bank, but some don’t. Honestly, if you want to stay in America, you’ll still have to pay a hefty sum even with Pell Grants and other financial aid options, and you’ll probably have to take out hefty loans. Nobody wants to do that. Nobody.
So what can one do?
Consider enrolling in a tuition-free university! No, not your community college–even though tuition rates are lower there, it still isn’t free. No, we’re talking about universities in some European Union countries, such as Austria, Finland, Germany, Norway, and Sweden. Yup, we’re bringing to you the countries where you can literally get a free education. Because that’s the way things should work everywhere (unfortunately, they don’t).
Yes, the land of “The Sound of Music”… The land of opera houses, choir boys, rolling lush hills, and lederhosen. Tuition is basically free, although they make you pay a small “fee” of about 370 Euros per semester… Psh, that’s less than what most American students pay for their textbooks per semester. Count us in. If you’re a citizen of a “less developed” country, you can even go for FREE. We’re not joking, this is NOT a drill.
Now, the downside is that Austria is a pretty expensive country to live in, as the average cost of living per month–now that’s your housing, living expenses, utilities, etc., are about 800 Euros, but let’s be honest. 800 Euros are about $900, and 900 x 9 = $9,000, which is altogether less than your typical American dorm (AND your typical American dorm probably doesn’t even cover all of your living expenses at home). So, to be honest, you’re winning.
So regardless of what you’re studying or where you’re from, Finland is especially generous in giving absolutely everybody who goes to university there free education. It’s kinda cold, yes, and it kinda shares a border with Russia (we’re not too sure on how we feel about that…), but you can probably see the Northern Lights and that sounds like a pretty good deal to us. Now, unfortunately, Finland is planning on rolling out a tuition scheme for all bachelor and masters programs taught in English from 2017 (because they know we’ll still go if they force us to pay, honestly), but it’s still going to be a much better deal than what you’re getting at home.
Now, expenses range everywhere from 500-800 Euros per month, depending on thrifty you are with your expenses, but basically, you can live relatively well in Finland without spending too much money. Plus, did we mention you can get a job on your visa? Also, free health care.
Bid yourself a warm welcome to the land of lederhosen and dirndls, Oktoberfest, and bratwurst, because Germany is about to offer you an awesome deal. As of October 2014, all German higher education universities have passed laws to give FREE education to everyone, even international students. Now, you may be asked for a “semester contribution,” but that’s about 50 Euros at worst, which is considered chump change if you compare it to tuition at home. Now, PhD students are expected to pay 150-200 Euros per semester, but don’t let that dissuade you from your doctoral studies. Considering Germany has some of the world’s premier universities, we think the deal you’re getting is pret-ty dang good.
On average, German students spend about 500-800 Euros a month at school, so it’s pretty comparable to other developed European Union countries. Plus, considering Germany is bordered by France, Austria, and Italy (just to name a few), being in Germany offers you excellent and inexpensive chances to travel all over Europe on your weekends. Station yourself in a big city, like Munich, and you’ll not only be super close to your nearest airport, you’ll also be in a vibrant city with tons of activities going on every single weekend (goodbye, boredom).
Yeah, Norway is very cold, but there’s honestly so much to do there: recently, the capital city Oslo was ranked one of Europe’s finest and funnest cities (also, for girls, it’s apparently one of the cities with the most bachelors in the world–but we think you’ll have to see it for yourself). It also has one of the highest living satisfaction rates, which means a lot of people are very pleased to live there, and the amazing amount of parks, fun activities, and events going on are guaranteed to keep you having a blast.
Oh, and those pesky tuition fees? There’s a small semester fee of about 300-600 Norwegian Krone, which could sound like (a lot?), but no worries, it’s only about $30-60 USD in actuality. So, super affordable. Other than that, your institution won’t ask you for another dime. Now, the one issue we do have to caution you about is that living expenses are especially high in Norway, about $9,000-11,000 per year, but you’ll have free tuition and free healthcare, among tons of other perks, so you’re still saving big time.
Considering Finland and Norway are both of Sweden’s neighbors, you may now be wondering what differentiates Sweden, especially because there is actually a low tuition that applies to people who are non-EU students (EU students go free). Well, you have a good chance at landing a Swedish scholarship, and most PhD students find funding outside. Stockholm is also a beautiful city, and the country is absolutely fantastic; for example, you can visit Swedish Lapland and revel in the beautiful northern country. For more information about Swedish funding, visit this site.