The US is notorious for its expensive higher education, yet it remains one of the most popular destinations in the world for education due to its high standards. Furthermore, education ranges drastically in the US, with tuition fees ranging from $5,000 per year to $50,000. In the UK, which is also known for its pricey education, tuition is consistently $13,000 (fixed at £9,250) per year except for internationals, in which it ranges from $13,000 to $50,000+ per year.
The US doesn’t really do a resident/international tuition fee structure but instead in/out of state pricing. In-state tuition fees tend to be around $10,000 whilst out-of-state tuition tends to be around $26,000, per year.
Europe: World-Class Education for a Low Price
There are many places in the world in which you can receive cheaper university education than in the US and UK. Europe is often pointed to as a first example, because it has many highly credible universities, it’s not so much a culture shock for Americans, it’s fairly accessible, and it can be very, very cheap. In some cases, it’s free.
Firstly, let’s clear up some of the free universities, as they’re individually priced as opposed to country policies of being free. Here are some noteworthy European universities with free courses:
- Free University of Berlin (Berlin, Germany)
- Sant’Anna (Pisa, Italy)
- Scuola Normale Superiore (Pisa, Italy)
- University of Crete (Crete, Greece)
However, you may just be after some affordable education, with free not being a necessity. Here are some other options:
- RWTH Aachen University (Aachen, Germany) ~$300 per semester
- Nord University (Bodø, Norway) ~$800 per semester
- University of Paris-Sud (Paris, France) ~$190 per semester
- University of Basel (Basel, Switzerland) ~$830 per semester
- University of Vienna (Vienna, Austria) ~$820 per semester
It should be noted that some of these prices may change depending on if the international student is from the EU or not.
How to Send & Receive Large Payments Abroad for Cheap
To make matters more expensive and difficult, sending and receiving money overseas can be expensive. The logistics of international payments for paying your tuition fee (or receiving foreign loan money) should not be overlooked because it can mean wasting hundreds of dollars per year on fees.
Firstly, receiving an exotic currency in your current bank account could be impossible, but if it is successful, the bank will convert this money to your bank account currency from back home. Not only is this conversion unhelpful, because you need the new currency to spend on your education/cost of living, but the conversion could cost anywhere up to 5% + $30 in fees. Not a good start!
The same goes for sending payments overseas, so we need to look at an alternative. Of course, you could potentially set up a bank in the same country as study. This could be difficult and timely, but possible. This will help for receiving money, but not for sending or converting money from your currency back home.
What is required to transfer money overseas is a money transfer service which specializes in FX. Here, you can have multiple currency accounts around the world with very low-cost exchange between them (sub 1% and no $30 flat fee). To open a virtual account in a new overseas currency can take seconds, as opposed to days/weeks at a high street bank, and be free to receive large payments from overseas. Ultimately, finding the best way to make an international payment to a bank account overseas needs to be done before heading over in order to maximize your savings.
The Cost of Living as a Student Overseas
The reason why you may not want to only opt for the free or cheapest university that you see is that it may be in an area with a high cost of living. For example, Bodø in Norway charges around $800 per semester, but the average cost of living is pretty steep. Whilst there will be cheaper student accommodation available, the average 1-bedroom apartment in the city center, according to Numbeo, will set you back USD $1,028 per month. Whilst a Mcdonald’s combo meal is roughly $14.29. For reference, student dorms in the UK are often around £140 per week (around $8,000 USD per year), slightly cheaper than Norway’s estimated student-specific accommodation.
On the other hand, the Netherlands can sometimes have a slightly cheaper cost of living than Norway, but the competition for student accommodation is fierce. A housing crisis led to students from Tilburg University setting up tents to camp in temporarily whilst they found a place. So, their EU fee of €2,209 per year (€8,900 for non-EU students) needs the context of the difficulties and expenses of living there.
Generally, the countries in the east and south of Europe are cheaper, such as Poland, the Baltics, and the Balkans. Greece, Italy, and Spain are all considered to be roughly in the middle when it comes to European cost of living, being much cheaper than the UK and Nordics, but more expensive than Bulgaria and Lithuania. Plus, Greece, Spain, and Italy are less likely to have a housing crisis for students too.
Some countries will offer grants, but often they’re not to internationals. International students in most countries will have access to tuition fee loans (though not all) and possible cost of living loans, but rarely will they receive grants which do not need to be paid back.
Cheap Education Around The World
Outside of Europe, there are also some very affordable places to go and study. Of the developed places in Asia, Taiwan is a great option for international students. For example, Taiwan’s leading university, the National Taiwan University, has tuition fees between roughly $1,650 and $2,600. Accommodation can also be found for as low as $3,000 a year, making Taiwan a fantastic option.
Mexico is also a great option for American students because it’s close to home, whilst being much cheaper than the US. Tuition fees for Americans can often be around $6,000, but it heavily depends on which university and which course. Living costs, of course, are affordable in Mexico – even in the capital city – making it possible to live on around $6,000 – $10,000 in living costs wherever you are in the country.
Finally, India is a brilliant option for those wanting a highly credible education whilst also being in a place of extreme cultural diversity. For some people, India is one of the most fascinating places on earth with a rich history and affordable cost of living. The universities are often similarly priced to Mexico’s universities, or perhaps slightly more, but living costs can be affordable at under $10,000 per year if you’re astute and frugal.