Higher education is the ticket to escaping many financial woes. Research shows that if you want a moderate income for your family, you need at least a bachelor's degree, although more and more industries are expecting at least a master's degree at the entry level.
With that knowledge, why wouldn't everyone get as much education as possible? The answer is very simple: It's expensive. Costs of education are rising rapidly. In the United States, the average cost of college tuition ranges from $10,000 to $35,000 a semester. The average graduate ends up with $30,000 in student loans, although some have debt that's worth hundreds of thousands.
Luckily for you, there's a much more affordable option for your college education if you're willing to travel. (Who wouldn't be??) There are actually hundreds of locations around the world that will allow you to study for free.
Some of these universities offer scholarships for students who study abroad. Others have government-funded education systems that allow everyone to study for free.
And you won't be getting a low-grade education, either. There are many world-renowned educational institutions that will give you a free degree if you'll put in the work. Before signing up for an expensive college in your home country, check out these programs all over the world.
20 20. Germany Study Abroad Programs
There's a large interest in German study-abroad programs at public universities. Most of that interest stems from the fact that German public schools don't charge undergraduate tuition fees. All you'll have to pay is a small university fee of a few hundred dollars.
And who wouldn't want to study in Germany? The education is great in this country, and there's plenty of culture, history, and art to enhance your education. You'll learn about European history while standing in the middle of it, which is a priceless educational experience you won't have to pay for.
19 19. Norway - Just Pay a $50 Registration Fee
Norway is another country that will cost you pennies to get your degree. You'll pay a small fee of $50 to register and be well on your way to a quality education. Thanks to the Norwegian Universities and College Admission Service, public tuition expenses are completely free.
You'll have to speak fluent Norwegian, however. There are very few programs with English coursework or even instructors who know the language. The cost of living can also be pretty expensive, although that's a small sacrifice most students are only too happy to make.
Can you think of anything more romantic than doing your homework among Scandinavian fjords without the looming threat of student debt hanging overhead?
18 18. Iceland - Totally Free for US Students
Iceland is a gorgeous country, despite some harsh winters. You'll get the best of both worlds with great winter outdoor activities and beautiful summer recreation. Plus, students from America study for free here.
Because of the excellent perks, international students make up five percent of the country's student population. Of course, there are still minor registration and application fees, but it's a small price to pay for the high-quality education you can get.
Living expenses are a little pricier here at just under $1,000 per month compared to some university destinations, but it's nothing if you're coming from New York, San Francisco, or other expensive cities in the U.S.
17 17. Austria - Not Totally Free, but Pretty Close
International students won't experience a totally free education in Austria, but their extremely low tuition fees bring students from all over the world. Public universities charge between €360 (US$445) to €725 (US$895) each semester.
If you become a citizen of the country, however, you won't have to pay anything at all for public college. Students in the EU or EEA also don't have to pay college tuition, other than the cost of your student union membership. Not a bad deal at all!
16 16. Brazil - More Than Just Carnival
Brazil is well known for its legendary Carnival, a huge street party that lasts for weeks. They've also brought the world dances like Samba and the delicious desert brigadeiro, which are like chocolate fudge balls.
It might seem like a giant party country, but it actually offers high-quality education with no tuition costs at public universities. In Brazil, public universities tend to be much higher quality than private, so you're getting an excellent education without the cost of tuition.
Because the education is highly sought-after, it can be difficult to get accepted. You must know fluent Portuguese and meet a few other requirements defined in the application.
15 15. France - Free Study Regardless of Nationality
France is often beheld as somewhat of an expensive country, but one that's well worth visiting. Just imagine if you could afford to study here, perching on a bench beneath the Eiffel Tower while reading your books or taking field trips in your art history class to the Louvre.
Well, you can afford it, no matter where you're coming from. France has a variety of free education programs at their various public colleges. The registration fees tend to be affordable, but they can be pricier at more prestigious universities.
France offers a growing number of opportunities to study in English, but most courses will be offered in French, so start practicing!
14 14. Finland - Free for Both Undergrad and Graduate Levels
Many countries that offer free study abroad programs do so at the undergraduate level only. If you want to go on to get your master's or doctorate, you'll have to pay hefty expenses, often amounting to more than you would have to pay in the United States.
However, in Finland, many public universities offer free tuition fees for U.S. citizens at both the undergraduate and postgraduate levels. It used to be that you could study pretty much anywhere for free, but policies have recently changed to include more fees at higher levels.
Still, it's not a bad deal when you're looking at hundreds of thousands for an upper-level degree at your home university.
13 13. Luxembourg - A Tiny Country With Massive Opportunities
There's a tiny, mostly rural country in the middle of the Ardennes Forest in Europe called Luxembourg. It's tucked in between Belgium, France, and Germany, and despite its small, rural state, it offers great opportunities in the world of quality education.
Students who attend the University of Luxembourg in the country's capital, Luxembourg City, will only be expected to pay the €800 registration fee in the first year and a €400 fee in the years following. There are no tuition costs here.
Many students like studying here because of the peaceful atmosphere. Luxembourg City is a sizeable city, but the population is small compared to other major European cities, and there's plenty of outdoor recreation surrounding it.
12 12. Sweden - A Chance to Make Money While Going to School
Sweden's educational system has been used as a measuring chart for many country's educational systems. Public education has been free for years, although there are small registration fees for international students.
The real perk for students, however, comes when you get your doctorate degree. Not only is this education free, but students are typically paid for the research work they do for the university. The wages are funded by either the university itself or external funders. You don't have student loans, and you have a little extra money in your pocket when you graduate.
11 11. Scotland - Priceless Education in a Gorgeous Country
The best things in life are free, as the old saying goes. Nowhere is that truer than in Scotland. Scottish nationals and students coming from other EU countries do not have to pay tuition fees. Many colleges don't even charge an annual registration fee, but if you do, there are scholarships to help cover the costs.
As you study, you'll be exposed first-hand to the historic castles and incredible scenery of the region. You'll be constantly surrounded by greenery, and the ocean isn't far from your college dorm room. What a great way to breathe in the culture and get an education at the same time.
10 10. Denmark - Do Your Homework at Nyhaven Harbor
Denmark, like many European countries, offers free tuition to students within the EU and EEA. However, students coming from outside of these regions are required to pay the typical tuition rate. You can get a free education all the way up to the doctoral level.
As you study, you'll be immersed in true Danish culture. Take your reading assignments down to Nyhaven harbor where you can do your homework with a colorful building backdrop. When you need a break, watch the many tourists and locals frequenting the merchant shops or pick up wienerbrød (Vienna Bread) at a local Danish pastry shop.
9 9. Slovenia - Live in an Underrated European City
If you were offered the chance to live in Germany or France to complete a free education, you probably already have a good idea of the sights and experiences you want to enjoy when you go. Slovenia, however, is a little lesser known. That doesn't mean it will disappoint in the slightest.
Slovenia's educational system is actually considered one of the best in the EU, particularly the University of Ljubljana. Students in the EU or EEA might not be able to pronounce the name, but you'll leave higher education without a penny of student debt. If people from the USA want to study here, they can apply for study abroad scholarships for one of their 150 English programs.
The best part? The cost of living is ridiculously cheap. Rent starts as low as $220 a month.
8 8. Czech Republic - Perfect for Fluent Czech Speakers
Czech isn't a widely spoken language, but if you're able to learn the language, you'll have a chance at a free education. If not, you can take a language class costing $900 per semester. You should be able to learn the language quickly if you're living in the Czech Republic and are surrounded by fluent Czech speakers.
The Czech Republic is also one of the most affordable countries to live in, and it's a highly underrated tourist destination. When you're not studying, you have to visit Prague where you can see the famed Prague Castle, Charles Bridge, the Astronomical Clock, and the cobbled streets of Old Town.
7 7. Argentina - Free Private School for the Locals
Locals are able to study for free at some private institutions as well as any of the public universities. International students have to pay a small registration fee, but they can also enjoy free tuition at public universities.
If you're coming from the United States or Europe, you'll enjoy significantly lower living costs as well. In some university towns, the cost of living will be half what you were paying back home.
Plus, you'll be living in an incredible culture and you can take weekend trips to the beach whenever you want. You can't beat that for the price of a free education.
6 6. Greece - Low Student Expenses on the Beach
Greece's economy may be on the rocks, but the educational system is doing just fine. The Hellenic Republic offers excellent schooling opportunities for the very low cost of an annual registration fee for all students not in the EU or EEA. Citizens of those regions don't have to pay any fees at all. However, there are some limitations to the freebies, as some master's programs will cost you.
Compared to the rest of the EU, Greece provides an extremely low cost of living. Plus, you can study at a university on a gorgeous island, so you can hit the beach every single day. The clear, deep blue water and swooshing sound of the waves will calm your nerves as you study for your test and provide recreation when you need a break.
5 5. Spain - Quality Education for Very Small Fees
Tuition is waived for Spanish students as well as those coming from the EU. International students will be expected to pay a fee, which can range from €750 and €2,100 (US$900-2,500). That's not a lot compared to full college tuition in the United States, but it's pricier than many countries in the region.
Still, the country ranks in the top 2o for upper-level education, so you're sure to have a great experience at any level. Check out universities in Valencia, Barcelona, and Madrid for exceptional schools, entertaining nightlife, gorgeous sights, beautiful beaches, and unparalleled Mediterranean culture.
4 4. Taiwan - Free for Foreign Students Who Look
In the last few years, Taiwan has begun an initiative to improve its foreign image. Therefore, they've been accepting a large number of foreign students, and to entice them to come, they offer free education.
However, these educational opportunities aren't as easy to come by as they are in European nations. The Taiwanese federal government offers special scholarships for post-secondary studies including a stipend for living expenses. If you're interested, you'll have to research the scholarship applications and apply.
You'll love your time in Taiwan. The food is fantastic, the people are friendly, the culture is exciting, the architecture is eye-catching, and the country as a whole is beautiful.
3 3. Switzerland - Go to School in the World's Happiest Country
Recently, a poll discovered that Switzerland is one of the world's happiest countries. The news has gone viral, and since then, students from other countries have been more and more interested in educational opportunities there. Lucky for them, tuition is completely free with very low registration fees for international students.
You'll have the opportunity to go to school with the backdrop of the Swiss Alps and green mountain valleys. However, beware of the cost of living. Switzerland is one of the world's top five most expensive places, so you better have some savings to help you make ends meet while you go here.
2 2. Belgium - Delicious Waffles with Your Homework
If you want your brain to function properly when doing your homework, you'll need a great breakfast. It really is the most important meal of the day, and Belgium is one of the best places in the world to get waffles and other breakfast items.
You'll be able to afford an extravagant breakfast now and again because you won't have to pay tuition. EU students only have to pay a small fee to attend Belgium public colleges, universities, or vocational schools. International students don't have to pay tuition either, but their registration fee is five times that of EU students.
Still, it's a more affordable alternative to universities in the States charging $30,000 or more per year, and they offer courses taught in English.
1 1. Hungary - Excellent Colleges in Western Europe
Like many European countries, Hungary offers free tuition and very low registration fees to students. EU and EEA students are not required to pay any fees at all, but international students can study for as little as €1500 a semester.
This rule applies to most programs up to the doctoral level, but certain programs, like medicine and dentistry, have significantly higher tuition fees. Still €20,000 a year is nothing when you compare it to the hundreds of thousands that many students pay elsewhere.
Hungary also has an extremely low cost of living, so you won't have to live the life of the proverbial struggling college student. You can enjoy Hungary's natural beauty, historic sites, and great food without going into debt.
References: student, studyinternational, topuniversities, theabroadguide, studyeu