If you want to take your degree global, you’ll want to know about countries with no tuition fees. Check them out! ☆ It’s no secret that getting a good quality education can cost an arm and a leg. In fact, student loans are one of the top causes of debt, especially in the United States where university tuition fees average around $35,000 a year!
But earning a top-notch degree doesn’t have to mean spending decades to pay off your loans. If you’re willing to break the mold, there’s a brilliant solution: earn your university degree abroad.
While most write off study abroad experiences to avoid drowning in debt, studying abroad can actually save you money. Do your research and you’ll find there are quite a few countries around the world with no tuition fees.
That’s right, you can quench your wanderlust, have the adventure of a lifetime, and earn a high-quality degree at world-renowned universities – affordably. Say goodbye to student loans, and hello to countries with free university tuition!
Is it too good to be true?
Some say nothing in life comes free. As with any international travel, there will be costs you’ll incur while studying abroad, including flights, visas, and accommodation. Even if you save on tuition, an education abroad still means forking out some hard-earned money.
But countries with no tuition fees for international students are out there waiting for you. You’ll find European countries with free university tuition, especially in the Nordic region, as well as affordable universities spanning from South America to Asia.
By choosing to study in countries with free university tuition, you’ll still come out with less debt and you’ll have a grand adventure while you’re at it!
11 countries with no tuition fees for international students
Oh, Germany: land of hefeweizen, bratwurst, and…free tuition! Germany is one of the most popular countries for international students, and for good reason. It is one of the few countries with no tuition fees for international students, whether you are from the EU or beyond.
While it can be common at some private universities to pay a small administrative fee, this usually includes a discounted public transportation pass, so you save even more. Better yet, Germany has a booming economy, a world-renowned education system, and a plethora of English programs, making it the ideal location for degrees abroad.
- Average tuition cost for international students: FREE
- Popular universities to attend: University of Munich, University of Bonn, University of Mannheim, Wismar University
Norway has the cheapest universities for international students in the Nordic region and makes the list for countries with no tuition fees. But Norway’s magic does not just lie in the absence of tuition costs. Imagine snowy mountains, deep blue fjords, and the Aurora Borealis to top off the experience of a lifetime!
There’s only one con: Norway is expensive. The cost of living is higher than most other parts of Europe, which means you’ll need a hefty savings account to cover on-the-ground costs. While this may not be a deciding factor for everyone, it’s a good idea to keep this in mind before jumping into a degree program abroad in Norway.
- Average tuition cost for international students: FREE
- Popular universities to attend: University of Oslo, Norwegian University of Science and Technology, University of Bergen, University of Norway
Nestled in the heart of Europe, Austria offers more than views of the Alps, iconic Gothic architecture, and high class living. It also features some of the cheapest universities for international students! While EU citizens study for free, other international students only pay a small fee under $1,000 for the year. That’s over $30,000 in savings compared to your average American university!
Settle yourself in beautiful Vienna to embark on an excellent academic program, and explore museums, go hiking, and feast on schnitzel in your free time. Just double check whether the classes are taught in English or German!
- Average tuition cost for international students: ~$1,000/year (FREE if you’re from the EU)
- Popular universities to attend: University of Vienna, Vienna University of Technology, Graz University of Technology, University of Innsbruck
Hungary reflects the classic feeling of “Old Europe” with its historic streets and charming villages. Its folk culture is very much alive, influencing the art, architecture, clothing, and music, making it a hotspot for international travel.
With its low cost of living, Hungary is also at the top of the list of cheapest universities for international students. While it may not be one of the few countries with no tuition fees, the cheap lifestyle outweighs the small fee to study abroad. In the long run, spending just over $1,000 in tuition fees per year may save you money while living in a cheap destination.
- Average tuition cost for international students: ~$1,100/year (FREE if you’re from the EU)
- Popular universities to attend: Attila Jozsef University, Avicenna International College, Budapest University of Economic Sciences, Central European University
Greece is magic: picturesque islands nestled into the Mediterranean Sea, crumbly feta with olives, and some of the cheapest universities for international students. Studying in Greece won’t be free (unless you’re from elsewhere in the EU) but tuition costs are still cheap.
Its low cost of living makes it one of the most affordable destinations in Europe – and the constant sunshine only raises the appeal. Whether you want to experience the grungy city life in Athens, the deep history of Thessaloniki, or sunbathe every day after class on the islands, Greece is an excellent destination to earn an education abroad. It rivals countries with free university tuition with its low cost and dreamlike scenery.
- Average tuition cost for international students: ~$2,400/year (FREE if you’re from the EU)
- Popular universities to attend: University of Crete, National and Kapodistrian University of Athens
From coastal Marseille to the wine country of Bordeaux, France is spotted with café terraces, warm croissants, and excellent universities. Its world-renowned education system and French charme draw students from around the globe. EU students only pay a registration fee, making it another one of the top countries with free university education, while internationals pay a small annual fee.
With an increasing number of international students, more university programs are offered in English for both undergrad and graduate students. With some of the cheapest universities for international students, endless program options, and an allure like no other, France can be your haven for affordable education.
- Average tuition cost for international students: ~$4,000/year (FREE if you’re from the EU)
- Popular universities to attend: University of Bordeaux, École Polytechnique, Le Mans Université, Université de Montpellier
Finland has always been known as one of the few countries with no tuition fees for international students, but this has recently changed with the addition of small fees for non-EU students. Depending on the desired degree and program, students can expect to pay an annual fee.
Unlike many other countries abroad, however, Finland’s financial aid and scholarship programs are open to international students, making it a desirable location for study abroad. Keep in mind that as with the other Nordic countries, Finland has some of the cheapest universities for international students, yet the cost of living is high. Is it worth the price to visit the land of clean air, happy people, and the real Santa Claus? We’ll let you decide.
- Average tuition cost for international students: ~$5,000+/year (FREE if you’re from the EU)
- Popular universities to attend: Tampere University, University of Oulu, University of Jyväskylä, Arcada University of Applied Sciences, University of Helsinki
If you venture outside of Europe, it’s more difficult to find countries with no tuition fees for international students, but you’ll still find cheap destinations. So if you’d prefer Caribbean beaches, spicy cuisine, and a vibrant, Spanish-speaking community, consider studying abroad in Mexico.
If you take time to plan and create a budget for international travel, Mexico offers some of the cheapest universities for international students. Choose between both English and Spanish programs, courses in archaeology or international business, and save money with incredible exchange rates. Each American dollar magically becomes 20 pesos, so you’ll be able to live like a king and study affordably.
- Average tuition cost for international students: ~$1,600+/year
- Popular universities to attend: The National Autonomous University of Mexico, Tecnologico de Monterrey, Universidad Autonoma de Nuevo Leon, Universidad Iberoamericano
Craving those South American vibes and want to brush up on your Portuguese? Brazil is another destination with some of the cheapest universities for international students. Similar to Mexico, you won’t find free tuition, but you will find affordable university prices, endless sunshine, and some of the kindest people you’ll meet.
Get lost in the famous Rio de Janeiro or settle into island life in Florianopolis while studying Latin American studies, Portuguese, economics, or health care. In your free time, you can volunteer in underdeveloped communities to boost your CV, play a pickup soccer game with classmates, or sip on caipirinhas on the beach. Whatever you fancy, it will be cheap with affordable living costs throughout the country!
- Average tuition cost for international students: ~$2,000/year
- Popular universities to attend: University of Sao Paulo, Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul, Federal University of Santa Catarina, Federal University of ABC
If you’re looking for countries with no tuition fees for international students in Asia, the options are slim. But affordable living costs make it a top destination to earn an education while saving money on tuition. China features some of the cheapest universities for international students in Asia, and it is the perfect location for students majoring in international business.
The only downside: most courses are taught in Mandarin. If you aren’t fluent, there are not many options for degree programs. On the other hand, if you can speak the language, not only do you have access to some of the cheapest universities for international students, but you’ll also open doors to endless international opportunities.
- Average tuition cost for international students: ~$3,000/year
- Popular universities to attend: Tsinghua University, Peking University, Fudan University
With over 50 big cities and one billion people, India is a colorful destination that will open your eyes and shift your perspective. With rapid economic development, this country has grown into a desirable location for travel and study, but even as it continues to develop the cost of living remains low.
Tuition costs range from only $5,000 annually, but you’ll spend even less than this on food, accommodation, travel, and fun. Whether you want to study at a high-ranking university in New Delhi, or embrace the culture of Chennai and Jaipur, India offers some of the cheapest universities for international students and an opportunity to discover an entirely new world.
- Average tuition cost for international students: ~$5,000/year
- Popular universities to attend: University of Delhi, Indian Institute of Technology Bombay, Indian Institute of Science Bangalore
Other ways to save money while attending universities abroad
Even if you’re lucky enough to study in countries with free university tuition, it’s still important to be money-conscious. You’ll need to save for flights, accommodation, basic living costs, and of course, fun!
Here are some other ways to save money while attending university abroad:
- Use FundMyTravel to create a nest egg. Before you embark on the journey of a lifetime, why not tell the world about it? Create a fundraising page and share it with family and friends. Tell your story and encourage those you love to donate to a good cause: your education.
- Buy used textbooks. Even the cheapest universities for international students can put a dent in your wallet when it comes to books. Instead of purchasing brand new course literature, explore ways of getting your hands on used textbooks. Do you know a past student who would be willing to lend or sell you their old books? Does Amazon ship to Hungary? Mexico? India?
- Get a part-time job. The best way to save money while attending university is always through part-time work. If you can find countries with no tuition fees and student working rights, you’ve hit the jackpot! If not, get a part-time job before you leave to save money you can spend overseas.
- Stay with a host family. In most destinations, staying with a local host family will be much cheaper than renting your own apartment. Not only can you save money, but host families offer true cultural immersion. You’ll eat local food, experience local customs, and practice your language skills – things you wouldn’t be exposed to by living on your own or with foreign roommates.
- Take advantage of student discounts. Don’t go anywhere without your student ID! It’s your ticket to discounts on everything from public transportation to restaurants, cinema tickets to museums… and sometimes even flights! While you may only save a few dollars here and there, in the long-run, student discounts can truly save you.
Countries with no tuition fees are a dream come true
Don’t waste another minute daydreaming about earning a top-notch education. No matter your financial situation, there is a way to study at a low cost, and sometimes that just means jetting off to the destination of your dreams to study abroad!
Countries with no tuition fees for international students are out there, and all it takes is some research, budgeting, and planning to get you on the right track. Get ready for a grand adventure and higher education, without the debt. It’s never too good to be true!
This article was written by Liz Gorga. Liz is an international traveler, writer, and educator with two home bases: the USA and Australia. She has worked, studied, interned, volunteered, and traveled through more than twenty countries (and counting), and currently resides in sunny Brisbane, Australia. Her life goal is to experience the magic that exists in every inch of the earth, whether she’s hiking in the Himalayan foothills, jumping out of the sky over coral reefs, or devouring a heaping bowl of homemade pasta.