Those looking to study abroad may be discouraged by the potential cost, but countries like Germany, Brazil, Finland, Austria and Norway offer affordable — and occasionally free — education for study abroad students.
You might think that studying abroad is inherently expensive. However, most aren’t aware that many foreign colleges in hot vacation spots offer more affordable tuition rates than U.S. universities, and a few are completely free. It’s possible to study abroad for a semester — or even a year or two — and graduate with fewer expenses and more cultural experience than the rest of your classmates. Here are the five top countries where studying abroad is cheaper than studying at home.
The economic powerhouse of western Europe, Germany proves that investing in education brings social stability and wealth. Over 25 of the country’s top universities are also open to international students, meaning study abroad students may be able to study here free of charge. All you’ll need is a student Visa, which is quite simple and can be obtained in one of two ways. First, you can open a German bank account and deposit at least 7,000 Euros, which shows the government that you have enough funds available to cover your studies. Secondly, you submit a sponsor letter from someone in your family, or a German friend who can vouch to cover you financially if necessary. Some of the larger schools in Germany, like the Free University of Berlin, offer many classes in English, meaning you can take anything from history to mathematics while you also brush up on German language skills.
The largest country in South America, and a natural paradise of white sand beaches and lush rainforests, Brazil is one of the world’s most popular vacation destinations. You may not know that you can also study at any public university entirely free of charge, just like the locals. Whether it’s in the sophisticated party capital of Rio de Janeiro or in a small town in the vast Northeast region, the options for living and studying in Brazil are immense. Before you pack your bags though, keep in mind that a good level of Portuguese proficiency is required of foreign students before they are allowed to enter the country and stay on a student visa, which is good for a year.
With one of the best education systems and quality of life rankings in the world, it might surprise you that the Finnish government opens all of its colleges and universities to international students free of charge. You can even get a Ph.D. doctoral degree in Finland, which would run you hundreds of thousands of dollars back home, for no fee in this friendly Scandinavian country. Because most programs are taught in English, this is an especially good fit for those looking to study abroad on the cheap. You are of course responsible for all your own living expenses when studying abroad in Finland — including international travel insurance–but there is a variety of state scholarships that are open to international students.
If you’re a believer that bigger is not always better, the small and beautiful country of Austria might make for the perfect destination for your studies. Austrian universities are free for members of European Union countries and cost just over 700 Euros a semester for study abroad students. That means for about the same price you’d pay to attend community college back in the United States, you could be living in the safe, clean and completely cosmopolitan city of Vienna studying art history, music or architecture to the envy of your friends. Since health insurance is free in Austria, all you have to worry about is living expenses and travel insurance to cover your belongings.
If you are considering studying abroad on a low budget, Norway should also be on your list. This oil-rich country has invested heavily in education. Colleges and universities are technically free at all levels to domestic and international students alike. There is a small “semester fee” that is charged, however, but it is under $100 U.S. and includes access to campus healthcare and a slew of other benefits like a free gym membership and counseling services. In order to get a student residence permit, which is necessary for stays of over 90 days, you will also need to pay a $430 U.S. fee to the government. Norway also requires that you show proof of financial funds and a housing plan for the length of your stay before your visa is approved.
Students who study abroad gain a much broader and more expansive education than their friends back home. The opportunity to be immersed in another culture and navigate cultural, educational, economic and social differences gives students an education that goes beyond academic curriculum. By taking advantage of available student visas, scholarships and other funding opportunities, students otherwise without the resources for foreign travel can gain these experiences. Those traveling should also consider Allianz Travel Insurance to cover them in case of unexpected travel changes or medical necessities.