Choosing a university to attend is an exciting first step in your journey towards higher education and beyond, but the cost of tuition (an average $38,185 per year for a four-year degree at a private US college) can leave you feeling anything but excited.
It’s an expensive investment, which is why many people turn to taking out a student loan to fund their higher education — and then end up with debt that they’ll be repaying for most of their working lives.
But this shouldn’t deter you from pursuing a university education. In fact, there are many countries where you can study abroad for free (or almost free)!
Below is a list of 15 of those countries where you can free, or significantly cheaper, education as you begin planning for the future.
Argentina has a total of 39 public universities (including the University of Buenos Aires and the National University of La Plata) that offer tuition-free education to national and international undergraduate students.
Something to keep in mind is that most classes are taught in Spanish, and you’ll need to demonstrate Spanish language proficiency to be admitted into these schools.
Public universities in Germany offer tuition-free education to EU students, while non-EU students will only have to pay a yearly fee of €3,000 — an extremely small price to pay for a four-year degree. That said, the cost of living in Germany is considerably high, averaging at €770 per month, without rent.
You’ll have more options if you already speak the German language, but if not, you can still find some programmes offered in English.
France’s public universities offer consistent annual tuition rates for international students: €2,770 for bachelor’s programmes, €3,770 for master’s programme, and €380 for doctoral programmes. Even lower tuition rates are given to students who are from an EU or EEA country or from Canada with residence in Quebec.
There are full degree programmes offered in English, so speaking French isn’t a must, but you’ll certainly have a better experience if you learn some French before you go!
Belgium is a culturally and linguistically diverse country, which makes international students feel at ease. You’ll be hard pressed to study for free in Belgium, but it’s not impossible. If you have excellent scores, apply early and nail your admissions interview, you might be able to receive scholarships to cover your tuition costs. On average, international students from the EU pay about €900 per year to study in Belgium, while non-EU students pay €4,180 per year.
In Norway, public universities don’t charge tuition fees for national or international students. All students pay a small semester fee of around €60, and that’s it!
Plenty of classes are available in English, and it’s possible to complete your degree without learning an additional language. With its natural beauty, free tuition and welcoming community, Norway is an excellent choice for your study abroad experience!
Public universities in Finland offer free degree programmes to EU, EEA and Swiss citizens. International students will have to pay tuition fees which vary across universities, ranging between €6,000 and €18,000 per year. However, PhD programs are free for all students, regardless their citizenship.
If you’ve already completed a master’s degree and are looking to further your education without collecting debt, Finland is a great option!
Like Finland, Sweden’s public universities offer tuition-free programmes to EU, EEA and Swiss citizens. International students will pay slightly higher fees, ranging from SEK80,000 and SEK295,000 per year. Also like Finland, Sweden offers free PhD programs to all students, regardless citizenship.
You can study for free in Greece if you’re from the EU or EEA. If not, you’ll have to pay a yearly tuition fee of about €1,500 for a bachelor’s degree and between €1,500 and €2,000 for a master’s degree programme. Even with the yearly fees, Greece is an incredibly affordable place to go to university. On top of the low tuition fees, there are many programmes offered in English.
Universities in Brazil are free for all students at state schools, even international students. While Portuguese is the main language, you’ll be able to find a good variety of programmes offered in English.
If you prefer to attend a private school, be prepared to pay anywhere between $2,000 and over $10,000 per year.
10. Czech Republic
The Czech Republic offers free university education to students of all nationalities, but you’ll pay some fees if you enrol in a programme taught in English. The fees vary across universities, but you can expect to pay up to €18,500 per year for a programme taught in English or other foreign language.
Citizens of the EU and EEA can attend a public university for free in Denmark. International students, on the other hand, will pay anywhere between DKK45,000 and DKK120,000 per year. Scholarships are available through universities, and students will also be allowed to work up to 20 hours per week to help pay for tuition costs.
Public universities in Austria are free for EU and EEA citizens. Other international students pay a small fee of €3,000 to €23,000 per year. Some of the top universities for international students in Austria include the University of Vienna, the Johannes Kepler University Linz and the Medical University of Vienna.
Spain is another country that charges small fees to international students from outside the EU and EEA. Luckily, the fees aren’t too expensive. Students pursuing a bachelor’s degree at a public university will pay €750 to €2,500 per year, and students earning a master’s degree will pay €1,000 to €3,500 per year.
The cost of living in Spain’s major cities can be pretty high, so don’t forget to factor that in while calculating your expenses.
Many public universities in Iceland are free to all students from all nationalities. You’ll only have to pay an annual registration fee of ISK60,000. If you don’t speak Icelandic and need to enrol in an English-taught programme, meanwhile, you’ll generally need to provide proof of English proficiency.
All universities in Scotland charge tuition fees, but that doesn’t mean you have to pay full price to study. Students who attend university in Scotland can receive tuition funding from the Student Awards Agency Scotland (SAAS) depending on their university, course, residency status and level of education. To be eligible for SAAS funding, students must be residents of Scotland or the UK. Students from other countries are not eligible for SAAS but can apply for scholarships through their university directly.
You have a lot to consider when choosing the right university, and we know that tuition costs are a key factor for many. Now that you know more about the different countries that offer free or low-cost tuition, you can start investigating which universities you want to apply for. Make sure your application is organised and highlights your skills and be sure to include a great personal statement.
Join the conversation! Got a question about studying for free in one of these countries? Let us know in the comments section below.