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Where Can You Study Abroad for Free?

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While university fees continue to rise in many parts of the world, some of you might be thinking that getting a recognized degree qualification, either in your home country or abroad, is simply impossible without having a four- or five-figure budget at your disposal.

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You’ll be pleased to hear that this isn’t necessarily the case! There are many countries worldwide where students are able to study abroad for free or for a very affordable amount; you just need to know where to look.

Below you’ll find a selection of countries that offer low-cost or free tuition, with details on eligibility and what current (low) university fees you can expect. To find internationally renowned universities in these countries, visit the QS World University Rankings® 2016-2017.

Study in Germany for free

Germany

Interest in studying abroad in Germany just seems to keep on growing. This is largely due to the fact that there are no undergraduate tuition fees at public universities in Germany, and this applies to both German students and internationals, regardless of nationality. Just a small nominal university fee is charged, of around €150-250 (~US$160-265) to cover administration costs.

These low study costs, combined with Germany’s strong economy and excellent higher education system, makes the prospect of undertaking study in Germany for free extremely appealing for both students and their parents worldwide. Indeed, in a recent HSBC report on ‘The Value of Education’, Germany is among the top five countries in the world in terms of perceived quality of education among surveyed parents. More than 40 German universities are featured among the world’s leaders in the QS World University Rankings – again, beaten only by the US and UK – with the highest place taken by Technische Universität München.

There are, however, signs that studying in Germany for free will not be possible for much longer. The state of Baden-Württemberg in south-west Germany recently announced plans to reintroduce tuition fees for non-EU students from autumn 2017, meaning non-EU students will be required to pay fees of around €1,500 (~US$1,600) per semester to study at universities in the state, such as Ruprecht-Karls-Universität Heidelberg.

If you’re successful in finding a university at which to study in Germany for free, you will of course still need to budget for living costs. If you need a German student visa, you’ll need to prove you have around €8,700 (~US$9,230) per year for living expenses.

Two of the top destinations for study in Germany, Munich and Berlin, are also ranked as two of the most affordable cities to study in the QS Best Student Cities 2016.

For more information on how to study in Germany for free, see the following articles:

Study in France for free (or at low cost)

France may not be quite as widely known as Germany for affordable higher education. But international students may be surprised to hear that they can also study in France for free (or, at a very low cost), regardless of their nationality.

Although technically university fees do exist at public universities in France, they’re just a fraction of those charged in most countries, amounting to just €184 (~US$195) per year at undergraduate level to cover course administration. Additional charges can bring this price up, particularly for more specialized programs such as medicine and engineering, but not dramatically. If you’re looking to study at a leading grande écolehowever, expect fees to vary widely.

As is the case in Germany, the majority of programs offering the chance to study in France for free are taught in the native language. However, there are a growing number of opportunities to study in English, particularly at graduate level. Alternatively, you can also attend a preparatory school to perfect your French skills before beginning your degree, but this you’ll have to pay for.

Living costs in France are also relatively affordable, amounting to around €9,600 (~US$10,180) per year, though you should expect to pay more if you choose to live in capital city Paris. According to Numbeo, cross-channel rival London eclipses Paris in all aspects of expense, with consumer prices marked 25% higher and rental prices a whopping 69% higher than in Paris. The French capital’s comparative affordability, combined with a huge selection of internationally ranked universities, means it continues to top the QS Best Student Cities index.

Find out more:

Study in the Nordic countries for free

Sweden

Known for their high quality of life, stunning nature and liberal politics, Northern European nations (known as the Nordic countries) also boast some of the strongest higher education systems in the world. Nordic nations DenmarkFinland, IcelandNorway and Sweden all offer opportunities to study free or at low cost:

In Norway, university study is available free of charge to all students, regardless of study level or nationality. The majority of undergraduate programs are taught only in Norwegian, and international students need to demonstrate proof of proficiency in Norwegian in order to study at this level. At master’s and PhD level, English language programs are far more common and free tuition still applies.

Denmark and Sweden only extend their free higher education perks to students from within the EU/EEA and Switzerland, meaning that students from outside these regions must pay tuition fees for bachelor’s and master’s programs. PhD programs in both countries are fully funded, offering exceptional PhD candidates the chance to gain their degree without paying fees, and earn a salary. Finland will soon join them in charging tuition fees to non-EU students starting from autumn 2017, which will be a minimum of €1,500 (~US$1,600) per year.

In both Denmark and Sweden, international fees at bachelor and master levels varies. In Denmark, university fees range from between DKK 45,000 and DKK 120,000 (~US$6,420-17,115) annually, while in Sweden they fall between SEK 80,000 and SEK 140,000 (~US$8,730-15,270).

In Iceland, there are no tuition fees charged at the country’s four public universities, with only a registration fee of around €400 a year (~US$425).

But what about living costs? Well, this is the catch, as the costs of living in Northern Europe are among some of the highest in the whole of Europe. This is largely due to the healthy economy of the region overall and the strength of the Nordic currencies, so paying more for living when the streets are clean and the people are happy perhaps isn’t so bad! Four Nordic capitals have been ranked among the world’s top student cities: CopenhagenHelsinkiOslo and Stockholm.

Find out more:

Other places to study in Europe for free (or at low cost)

Belgium

What about other places to study in Europe for free or at a low cost? There are a number of Europe countries which offer affordable or free universities, without any need to sacrifice on quality. See below for more examples.

Austria

Another country where students can study in Europe for free (or at a very low cost) is Austria. EU/EEA students enjoy the same rights as Austrians when it comes to the cost of higher education, and can study for up to two semesters for free at any degree level. After this time, students pay a fee of just €363 (~US$385) per semester. International students from outside of the EU/EEA should expect slightly higher fees of around €726 (~US$770) per semester. Living costs will set all students back approximately between €10,200-12,000 (~US$10,820-12,730) a year. Vienna, Austria’s capital city, is ranked 16th in the QS Best Student Cities 2016.

Belgium

There are two main language communities in Belgium, each with their own stance on university fees. However, EU students will pay a maximum of only €835 (~US$890) a year. And while it’s just EU students who get the major benefits of being able to study in Europe for free, fees are still very affordable for international students, ranging from €890 to a maximum of €4,175 (~US$940-4,430) per year. You can live in Belgium with a budget of around €11,400 (~US$12,100) a year. Brussels, the capital city, was ranked 41st in this year’s QS Best Student Cities.

Czech Republic

Students who speak Czech are able to study abroad for free in the Czech Republic at any public university. Students who wish to study in English can also study fairly cheaply, at around CZK 108,334 (~US$4,260) per year. Living costs are more affordable than in many countries in Western Europe, at around CRK 106,900-229,070 (~US$4,200-9000) per year. The Czech capital city, Prague, is ranked joint 39th in the QS Best Student Cities.

Greece

All students from within the EU/EEA are able to study abroad for free in Greece at public universities and colleges, with the exception of some master’s programs. And if this doesn’t sound like enough, you could also get your course textbooks for free! International students from outside of the EU are also eligible for low-cost higher education, at approximately €1,500 (~US$1,600) per year. Greece offers one of the lowest costs of living in the European Union.

Italy

Although private universities in Italy can be known to charge fairly high tuition fees, public universities in Italy are markedly cheaper, charging between €850 and €1,000 (~US$900-1,060) per year for undergraduate programs. EU students are eligible for the same funding opportunities as Italian students, including loans, grants, scholarships and fee waivers. Living costs in Italy are also not as high as you might expect, at around €12,000-18,000 (~US$12,760- 19,145) per year. Milan is ranked 38th in the most recent QS Best Student Cities, while capital city Rome is joint 61st.

Spain

With the same education rights as Spanish students, EU students are not required to pay high education fees. International students, meanwhile, are able to study in Spain for between €680 and €1,400 (~US$720-1,500) per year at public institutions. Fees are charged on a per-credit basis and can be higher at graduate level. To live in Spain you should expect to spend between €10,800 and €13,200 (~US$11,500-14,050) a year in living costs.  Madrid and Barcelona and are both featured in the QS Best Student Cities 2016, at 22nd and 30th respectively.

Other places to study abroad for free (or at low cost)

Argentina

Argentina

While Argentinian students all enjoy access to free universities, international students should expect to pay a small, nominal fee to enroll at public universities in the country. Private institutions in Argentina, on the other hand, can charge upwards US$5,000 a year. In the QS Best Student Cities 2016, Argentinian capital Buenos Aires is 32nd.

India

In India, international students will typically pay tuition fees of no higher than US$7,300 a year, though private university and graduate fees tend to be more expensive. Living costs in India are, for most students, likely to be very appealing – according to Numbeo, consumer prices are 187% cheaper than in the UK, while rental prices are as much as 373% cheaper. Overall, you should be able to live comfortably on as little as US$5,000 a year.

Taiwan

Tuition fees in Taiwan offer great value, with the nation’s top universities offering affordable programs. For example, National Taiwan University (NTU), the nation’s leading university at joint 68th in the QS World University Rankings 2016-2017, last year charged undergraduate students just TW$100,920-124,200 (~US$3,175-3,900) per year. In the QS Best Student Cities 2016, Taipei was ranked 23rd in the world and the fifth most affordable city for students.

This article was originally published in March 2015. It was updated in December 2016.

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Laura Tucker's profile image
Written by Laura Tucker
Laura is a former staff writer for TopUniversities.com, providing advice and guidance for students on a range of topics helping them to choose where to study, get admitted and find funding and scholarships. A graduate of Queen Mary University of London, Laura also blogs about student life.

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177 Comments

Hi,
I am from Nigeria and have a Bachelor's Degree in Statistics. i am looking for an option to continue studying for my master degree in statistic or related course. Is there any chance for me to get a scholarship to participate in master degree's programm in North America or Europe for free or at low cost.
Thanks.

Hello. I am from Uzbekistan, and I am graduating lyceum-high school in 1month and I really want to pursue my Bachelor degree abroad for free, as my parent cannot help me financially. I have passed an IELTS exam recently. So I have an IELTS certificate, B2-6.5. Thank you for your attention. Hope your help.

You can try to apply for this fully-funded scholarship program to study in Macedonia : http://stipendii.mon.gov.mk/foreign-stpaulohrid/-/blogs/call-for-applications-for-undergraduate-scholarships-to-foreign-students-studying-in-macedonian-language-1;jsessionid=490991CC7CE56995C6CF90383F514682?_33_redirect=http%3A%2F%2Fstipendii.mon.gov.mk%2Fforeign-stpaulohrid%3Bjsessionid%3D490991CC7CE56995C6CF90383F514682%3Fp_p_id%3D33%26p_p_lifecycle%3D0%26p_p_state%3Dnormal%26p_p_mode%3Dview%26p_p_col_id%3Dcolumn-5%26p_p_col_pos%3D1%26p_p_col_count%3D2

Jaanu P 5 days ago
Hi there....
I am from India, and I have just passed high school and diploma in comp.engg.I want to get education in abroad for free coz I am not affordable to pay high fee...I request you to help me about studying in abroad.me apni family k liye kuch krna chahti hun meri maa k liye plzzzzzzzzz help me Thankyou

Hi,
I'm from North West Region of Cameroon. I left high school last year and haven't been able to school because I want to study abroad (Europe) but don't know how to go about getting into a university in Europe and which will be less costly. Please I need your help Madame Laura

Hey, I'm from NW too and I've been studying here in Turkey for a while. Most universities here that offer courses in english are relatively cheap as compared to other European countries, and rents and housing in general are equally affordable. I would suggest you look for schools here to save cost. Most of the fees range between $5k-7k for a complete undergraduate degree studies . And house rents including dormitories often are between 150-200dollars per month. So that's what I'll advise you to do. I can equally send you links to some of the universities if you feel you can cope with those price ranges.

Hi there....
I am from India, and I have just passed high school ( grade 10). I want to get education in abroad for free coz I am not affordable to pay high fee...I request you to help me about studying in any country. Thankyou

You can try to apply for fully-funded scholarship for undergraduate studies in macedonia: http://ybox.vn/hoc-bong/call-for-applications-for-undergraduate-scholarships-to-foreign-students-studying-in-macedonian-language-uvplbrx7go

Hi Laura,

I'm working as an HR officer in UAE for nearly 2 years I'm looking at studying further and obtaining a post graduate course in Human Resource Management Abroad can you please assist me with some of the destination abroad where i can apply for Human Resource Management studies at an affordable price.

Please can you guide me through with few destinations.

Hey there ppl,
I'm working as medical radiological technologist since more than 8 years, want to study MBBS.
Is there any chance to get to this dream without tremendous cost:fees and accommodation and daily expenses.

Hi Fatmah, you won't be able to avoid costs entirely but some of these medical scholarships might be able to help: https://www.topuniversities.com/student-info/scholarship-advice/medical-scholarships-around-world

Hi Laura..
I got a spot in UTICA to study nursing, but I have to take a track course in health studies to qualify for nursing, but due to the Naira-dollar exchange rate, I wont be able to afford their fees of 35, 000 dollars. Could you please help out with scholarships, or grants I could apply for, or any other way forward, so I can start the application process early. Thank you.

Hi Jay, please take a look at our list of nursing scholarships around the world. Best of luck with your applications!

Hi,
I am from Russia and have a Bachelor's Degree in English Philology. I've been working last year and now i am looking for an option to continue studying. Is there any chance for me to get a scholarship to participate in Bachelor's programm in North America or Europe. I am interested in IT for choice.

Hi Dimitri, please take a look at our list of computer science scholarships around the world, which includes options to study in the US and Europe. 

Hello there
I am Nikola from Serbia. I'm currently a high school student graduating in this term and i was wondering what is the best place for me to study abroad? Due to very bad financial situation i am in, i am unable to fund any of my study expenses and since i'm not yet in EU, i can't find any free option. Basically my question is...Is there any university providing free studies AND living expenses (at campus or somewhere) for high performing students? EDIT: I am interested in IT sector specifically Software Engineering

Nikola! Did you find a good college or university for your undergraduate study?

yes you can study free in university of siena in Italy.. DSU region oganization pays for accommodation, food and tuition fee with some euros for pocket money .

Thank you for your reply Mateen, what i'm wondering tho is how good is the studying quality and what which requirements do i need? Do i need to know Italian? I'm not kinda interested in learning the language since im leaning towards germanic languages

Hi Nikola, one bachelor's and nine master's degrees are taught in English but other degrees are taught in Italian. I'd suggest going onto the university's website for more information.

Hi; am muhindo moris from Uganda, i have an under graduate degree in development studies and i need to continue with studies in Europe especially England. where can i join for free or at a low cost? However i have financial challenges.

Hi there, I'm afraid it's not possible to study in England for free, however you can find a range of scholarships to study in England included in our article on UK scholarships here. You might also like to check out our list of scholarships to study in Europe

Hello; I got some questions if you don't mind ;
What about the medicine studies ? Where are they affordable for stranger students ? Is France a good choice from the finacial ( and the studies' quality ) point of view ? Do you suggest any other colleges for medicine ?

Hello, I think Thailand, France and Germany are all fairly affordable places to study medicine - in Germany you can study it for free, but the catch is you'll need to have a very good knowledge of German. To help you explore your options, you might like to view our latest rankings by subject for medicine and our list of medical scholarships around the world

Are you saying they study in German ? Or that I shouldlearnGerman so I can live there ? How can I apply to a Thai. college if there is no ambassyhere in Algeria ? Thhank you.

Hi, Keelen from Namibia
Where are tuition free or low tuition universities for non European or American students to get a Bachelor's degree in Business

Hi Keelen, you can study your bachelor's degree for free at any public university in Germany and Norway, with other low-cost study destinations mentioned above. To help with funding, you might like to look for a scholarship - we've listed a range of business scholarships here, or you might like to apply for our Undergraduate Scholarship

I'm looking for a university in New Zealand who gives courses in all kind of fields, for a cost less than 9000 NZD (international student)

Hi Luna, I'm not sure about a university with the tuition fees you stated, however you can browse from a range of scholarships to study in New Zealand here. :)

Hi I'm Maryam from Oman
A staff nurse since I have a general nursing diploma from Muscat Nursing Institute,, currently I work A hospital. I would like to continue my education in USA or Canada,, I would like to know about the best university offering at low price or free.

Thank you

Hello Maryam , i would suggest you Southern Arkansas University which is in Arkansas State, i am not pretty sure how the Quality of nursing is in this university,as i did my Master's In Computers from this university.
And Yeah the university is affordable and you can also check the fees on its website too. Good luck

Maryam I am from NY. generally, state/government schools are cheaper in USA. And private collges are expensive. Overall quality of education is good.

Hello,I'm from Nigeria and I'm looking for a university to study human resource management at low price in USA,Canada or UK.

Hallo. I am looking for a scholarship in human medicine and surgery in the countries of USA Australia UK and Canada. I have a bachelor's degree in veterinary medicine but I am looking forward to pursue my heart desired career. Thanks

Hi Cedrick, please take a look at our list of medical scholarships around the world, which includes options to study in the US, UK Australia and Canada. Hope this helps!

Hello, I am Saurabh Kumar. I am in the final semester of India's most prestigious college of commerce. i.e. S.R.C.C., Delhi University at an undergraduate level. Now, I am looking forward to studying abroad for my masters (Master in international business or commerce or entrepreneurship). I have some financial barrier, so I can't invest too much on my masters. Yet I haven't given my GMAT and IELTS.

Hence, what universities should I check for my further education?
Please help me out, I am very confused. Thank-you.

Hello please I want a university in Malaysia that offers oil and gas economics or any related course like energy economics for post graduate. I want a detail requirements please.

Hi I am kalhari from Sri Lanka. I have done my BSc with a first class and working in a state bank for nearly 6 years. I like start my masters in Australia but looking for a full scholarship. I am married and have two children. Husband also well educated with masters. what are the scholarships available for me. thanx

Hi Kalhari, please take a look at our list of scholarships to study in Australia. 

Hi I am in Pakistan and just 6 months left for the completion of my BS in software engineering. i want to do Master's from abroad ! I cant afford my fee NEED HELP ...

Hi Abbas, if you'd like to continue your studies in engineering, you might like to view our list of scholarships for engineering students. We have a wide range of other scholarship listings (for different countries/regions) which you can browse from here. Good luck! 

Hi, I am from Armenia. I am studying in Faculty of Mathematics in Yerevan State University. I want to know, is there any offers to study abroad for free? Thanks in advance.

Try the Netherlands government scholarship scheme. I think they're still accepting applications

hi am in Italy i would like to know cheap universities that i can attend for my bachelors degree..any help??

Hi,
I am from Jamaica and I desire to attain a bachelors degree. But I am seeking a scholarship opportunity because I cannot afford school. Can you help?

Hi Amoy, please have a look at our complete guide on how to find scholarships to study abroad - hope it's useful! :)

Hi
I am sidiqullah from Afghanistan,i studied civil engineering here in my country because of the love which i have with this field now i want to get master's degree in civil engineering and management in abroad,now how i can to get a free scholarship for master in one of a top university in the world.....thanks

Hi Sidiqullah, please have a look at our article on 'scholarships for engineering students' - you could also download our free guide on how to find scholarships to study abroad. Good luck with your search! 

Hi! I`m from the Philippines. I am planning to have my PhD in International Relations abroad. Which country is the best one which also offers full scholarship to international students? Thanks!

Hello, I'm from Bosnia and Herzegovina and I've heard from several sources that students from former austro-hungarian empire have the same conditions of studying in Austria as Austria's students; meaning possibility of free college education if you get in. Does someone have the information on this? Possibly someone studying there? Thanks