6 Countries with Virtually Free College Tuition

The staggering cost of higher education in the United States has many prospective college students wondering whether going to college is worth the expense. While conventional wisdom still points to the benefits of having a college degree, more students and their families are seeking alternatives to lower their college tuition bills. Some Americans are even looking abroad, as some countries offer free tuition to international students and programs of study entirely in English.

1. Norway

Students willing to brave exceptionally harsh winters and one of the highest costs of living in the world might consider earning their degrees in Norway. Tuition is free at public universities, giving students the opportunity to earn degrees at top-ranked institutions such as the University of Oslo, Norwegian University of Science and Technology, and the University of Bergen.

2. Finland

Until recently, citizens and international students paid no tuition at state-run universities. However, starting in 2017, international students wishing to earn degrees in English will pay approximately $1,700 or more per year, depending on the degree level and program of study. Doctoral students, as well as those pursuing their studies in Finnish or Swedish, still pay no tuition. The government also plans to offer scholarships and financial aid to international students with exceptional academic backgrounds.

3. Sweden

Only students pursuing research-based doctoral degrees get free tuition in Sweden; some programs of study even offer stipends to international students. Nevertheless, students should be aware that Sweden’s high cost of living may put them over budget, even when they pay nothing to earn their degrees.

4. Germany

Germany needs skilled workers, and this reality creates a win-win situation for American students. All students enrolled in any of the country’s public universities can attend for free. What’s more, German universities offer a wide range of programs entirely in English, and an American student can earn a university degree in Germany without speaking a word of German. Top-ranked institutions, such as the University of Munich and the University of Bonn, mean that U.S. students don’t have to trade prestige for cost.

5. Slovenia

Cultural experiences, proximity to tourist destinations in Italy and Croatia, and free university tuition make Slovenia an attractive choice for students wanting to earn their degrees abroad. Like Germany, Slovenian universities offer numerous programs of study in English, so students only need to learn the language to communicate with the locals.

6. France

In the past, students needed to speak French in order to attend university in France. This is no longer the case, however, as many programs of study at both public and private universities are offered in English. Students who attend public universities usually pay a few hundred dollars per year, depending on the degree level and program of study. Over the years, France has modified its free tuition model, and some EU students pay tuition based on family income. Such changes may eventually impact how much international students pay to attend French universities.

College Tuition

Image Credits: Pixabay

Beyond Europe

Europe remains a well-known, highly sought-after destination for students seeking refuge from high-priced U.S. colleges and universities, but public universities in countries such as Mexico and Brazil also have virtually free tuition; students pay registration fees, which amount to very little when considering the exchange rates. Some universities offer top-quality programs of study in English. Earning a degree south of the border also makes it possible for students to learn highly sought-after languages of commerce, such as Spanish and Portuguese.

Americans can also attend university in China and pay around $3,000 per year, which is very affordable when compared to U.S. tuition rates. The best tuition deals in China, however, are reserved for students able to pursue their studies in Chinese.

This article by Lisa Goetz was previously published on Investopedia.com

About the Author:

  • Finance content writer for Investopedia since 2016
  • Has more than 60 articles to her credit
  • Writes about insurance, real estate, budgets and credit, and banking and taxes


Lisa has been a finance content writer for Investopedia since 2016, and she has more than 60 articles to her credit. She writes about a wide array of topics including articles on insurance, real estate, budgets and credit, and banking and taxes. Lisa also writes about buying a franchise, career advice, and how loans affect credit scores.

In one of her recent articles, The Cost of Buying a McDonald’s Franchise (MCD), Lisa looks into the difference between buying an existing franchise and purchasing a new franchise. She points out information about market saturation, the problems associated with training new staff, and the availability of financing for the franchise purchase.

You will also see Lisa’s work in syndication at Yahoo, as a referenced work in the book The Green Bundle: Pairing the Market with the Planet, and as reposts on several business and financial education websites.

Featured Image Credits: Pixabay





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