Countries in Western Hemisphere may boast some of the most prestigious academic institutions, but such quality education comes with a high price tag. Even the average student who attends a local university can often find themselves neck-deep in debt once they finish their degree. Millions are tired of exorbitant student loan debt so much so that they are willing to leave the country to avoid it. The skyrocketing cost of education in the United States, Canada, and other western countries has created an entire generation of expats. These education-seeking expats go overseas not for lavish vacations, but to actually save money. In some cases, they often find themselves a job and livelihood in their country of study.
Many of the countries listed here do not offer totally free college however they are “almost” free. However, the tuition and other fees are minuscule compared to the abhorrent prices or North American education. It is important to keep in mind some places have a higher cost of living and high income tax.
Public colleges in Brazil are known as Federal Universities. These Federal Universities offer free tuition and high quality education that rivals the quality of their paid education programs. The free college is offered both to Brazilians and international students. Programs are offered in English and Portuguese. Students must pay (small) registration fees, however.
Unfortunately, Brazil’s federal universities have a strong preference for upper-class whites and those who attended more exclusive primary and high schools. Additionally, both public and private universities in Brazil are increasing their standards due to a rapidly increasing student population that has more than doubled in the past decade.
Similar to Brazil, Slovenia only charges international students a small registration fee. Slovenian education is some of the highest rated in the world, despite being a tiny country tucked away in Eastern Europe. The tiny country offers over 150 English language programs at the University of Ljubljana and other small universities.
Slovenia is located close to Croatia and Italy. Slovenia itself is a highly underrated country, with beautiful scenery and experiences that cannot be found elsewhere. Cost of living is very cheap as well. Dorms are only $150 per month on average, and private housing start at roughly $200 for a studio.
3. Czech Republic
If you’re willing to learn Czech or already speak it, the Czech republic offers virtually free college at over 70 universities. International students who wish to study in English must pay, but only a small fee of $1000 per semester. Applying is straightforward – prospective students typically need only to submit proof online of secondary education. Comfortable living costs range from $350 to $750 per month.
Although Eastern European countries like the Czech Republic are less sought after by international students, they still have much to offer. Cities such as Prague, Brno, and Ostrava offer cultural delights, good food and beer, and quality nightlife.
A small country of just over 300,000 people high up in the North Atlantic ocean, Iceland is still a place to see for yourself. Iceland and other Nordic countries offer some of the best quality education and highest living standards. Americans and other international students can enjoy free college at the University of Iceland, located in its capital of Reykjavik. American students must pay a $600 registration fee, but do not need to pay tuition fees. Most of the courses are offered only in Icelandic, although there are some postgraduate classes offered in English.
Iceland’s endless expanse of untouched natural beauty makes a getaway just a short drive away at any given moment. The city of Reykjavik is a cultural hub bustling with activity, offering food, music, art, nightlife, unique people, and innovation. The cost of living can be expensive – students are advised to have at least $1000 per month to life comfortably. Additionally, owning a car or having the funds to rent one at certain times is advised. Anyone who wishes to stay longer than 3 months must apply for a residence permit.
The exceptional social healthcare and education programs of Denmark help it get consistently rated one of the happiest countries in the world. Although the programs can only exist due to extremely high income tax, the entire country enjoys a comfortable life as a result. In fact, native Danish students are paid roughly $900 monthly to attend university. Students from the EU and exchange program students can study for free in Denmark.
If you plan to work and study while in Denmark, beware of the high income tax and living costs. However, regardless if you plan to work or not you can still benefit from the country’s generous social programs, high standard of living, kind people, and nature.
Both undergraduate and postgraduate university programs in Finland are free for American and international students. The two top universities, The University of Helsinki and University of Aalto offer education that rivals American Ivy League schools. Many courses are offered in English. However, as of 2017 some small fees will be added for American students, although courses in Finnish and Swedish will continue to be free.
Being a part of Scandinavia, Finland once again boasts a high standard of living. Again, that comes at a cost, as students are advised to have at least $800 monthly set aside to cover basic living expenses. Also keep in mind since it’s Scandinavia – it’s cold!
France is not only highly cultured, but highly educated as well. It offers some of the best international business schools in the world. Paris consistently tops the charts as one of the best cities for students to live and study. The historical and modern constantly blend in the French capital, creating endless opportunities for learning and experiences. Students only need to pay $208 per semester for anything below a masters, and $290 for anything beyond that.
Although courses were previously only taught in French, students may now study in English as well. However, it is highly advised to be able speak french. To apply to a French University, you must submit a copy of your passport and records of your grades. You must also prove you have the money necessary to cover your living expenses. You must also apply for a visa. If you plan to study in French, you must prove that you are proficient in the language.
Germany is economic and cultural powerhouse, and its education is second to none. In recent years, Germany has intensified its global outreach programs due to a shortage of skilled workers. As a result, nearly every University offers almost free college programs in English for international students, other than a small fee that runs around $200 per semester.
Berlin is one of the safest and most eclectic cities in Europe. Other German cities are equally exciting and offer high quality of life at a reasonable price. The average student should expect to pay around $950 per month for living expenses. Germany also has incredibly efficient public transport.
The world could learn a lot from Sweden – their government programs have solved much of their problems. Their education is free for for international students – in fact, postgraduate and PhD students can even be salaried. Students must pay a small fee of $110 when applying for Swedish college, and expect to pay around $1000 in living costs.
Sweden is home to some of the world’s leading universities and research institutes. The nature in Sweden is unrivaled and makes the country perfect for outdoor enthusiasts.
Norway is very similar to Sweden. International students only pay small fees and they enjoy the benefit of free college. Classes are also small and offer in-depth, personalized education. Many programs are offered in English.
However, Norway has one of the highest costs of living in the world. For example, basic goods such as a soda or coffee will cost you almost twice as much. Rent, utilities and other living costs will set you back almost double as well.