Comparing Tuition Costs in Fifteen Different Countries

Although I am primarily focused on schools in the United States, I often get questions about the affordability of other countries. Below are the tuition summaries of 15 different countries, copied directly from the National Association for College Admissions Counseling’s Guide to International University Admission. If you search online for the guide, you’ll see that it also has a lot more information about quality of academics, deadlines, housing, visas, and much more. I hope that these summaries help anyone who is searching for an affordable international experience. (Yes all these countries have English-speaking programs.)
Australia: Tuition and fees are regulated at the national level and tend not to fluctuate. Annual undergraduate bachelor’s degree charges range from AU$20,000 to AU$45,000 (this range does not include professional courses such as veterinary or medical), depending upon the program of study. More information on financial aid for international students can be found through Study in Australia’s website.
Canada: The average tuition fee for international undergraduate students at Canadian universities was CA$29,714 in 2019–2020, ranging from CA$9,340 for some humanities programs to CA$60,570 for some business, management, and public administration programs. Tuition at Canadian colleges range, on average, from CA$6,600 to CA$22,000 per year. The EduCanada website enables students to determine a rough estimate of tuition, food, and housing based on the program and institution, where they are coming from, and whether any dependents will be staying with them. The Canadian government website has scholarship information for international students. Fulbright Canada also manages a scholarship program for university exchange students. Scholarship and award options for international undergraduates vary greatly by institution. Some relatively small athletic scholarships are also available. Generally, student-athletes must meet certain academic expectations, in addition to possessing athletic talent, to qualify for these scholarships.
Finland: Non-European Union (EU)/European Economic Area (EEA) students applying to an English-taught bachelor’s degree program are subject to tuition fees. These range from approximately 4,000 to 13,000 euros, depending on the program. Tuition exemptions do exist. For example, fees may be waived if a student has an EU/EEA citizenship. Visit the Studyinfo website for more information on exemption rules. Finnish higher education institutions also offer scholarship options for gifted non-EU/EEA students who are admitted to fee-charging degree programs. Often based on academic performance, these scholarships may include full or partial fee waivers or performance-based refunds. Typically, students apply for a scholarship at the same time they apply for admission. Students should confirm the details about tuition or scholarships with the university to which they are applying. Each university and UAS has its own student union. At universities, students are required to pay an annual student union fee. Currently the fees range from 100 to 140 euros approximately. Student union membership is optional at universities of applied sciences. Students who join the local student union receive a student card they can use to access several benefits. Student unions often organize services like student housing or tutoring, and routinely plan sports events or cultural excursions.
France: The cost of studying in France is among the lowest in the world. For both French and foreign students, the government subsidizes two-thirds of the tuition fees in higher public institutions. For 2020–2021, the tuition fees for international students at French public universities will be 2,770 euros per year for a licence. Annual tuition rates at private institutions–including grandes ecoles and professional schools, such as schools of business and management–are generally higher, with annual tuition ranging from 3,000 to 20,000 euros. Most universities, however, offer tuition exemptions for international students. Candidates should check with their prospective institutions in which they intend to apply to verify their effective tuition fees for the upcoming school year. Many scholarship options are available for US students. Some institutions accept FAFSA, but students are advised to check directly with their prospective institutions for loan options.
Germany: Tuition, even for international students, is generally free at all German public
universities, though students are required to pay fees each semester for public transportation, meals in the dining halls, use of athletic facilities, and cultural programming. The fees average about 250 euros per semester, but vary by university. Universities in the state of Baden-Württemberg, however, charge 1,500 euros for students from outside the European Union, with some exceptions for exchange students and researchers. Private German universities charge tuition, some up to 20,000 euros per year. Some schools offer flexible financing options, such as allowing students to defer fee payment until after graduation when they have secured employment. The DAAD website includes a database of merit-based scholarship opportunities for international students.
Ireland: Tuition for full-time undergraduate programs ranges from 10,000 to 22,000 euros per year, though tuition for medical and related fields is usually much higher. All Irish universities are approved by the US Department of Education to accept federal financial aid loans and private student loans.
Israel: Israeli higher education tuition fees are competitive compared to average costs of college in the United States. Tuition varies depending on the institution and program, with undergraduate tuition ranging from US$4,000 to US$15,000. Financial aid is offered by all colleges and universities and scholarships are offered based on merit and need. Many organizations and nonprofits also provide scholarships for international students in Israel. American students are eligible to apply for US Federal Student Aid for undergraduate programs at most Israeli higher education institutions that offer full degree programs in English.
Italy: Regular tuition fees for EU and non-EU students depend on the student’s family income and on the program. On average, public institutions charge 900 to 4,000 euros per year; private institutions charge 6,000 to 20,000 euros per year, not including living expenses and books. In some cases, students need to pay the first installment in advance. The tuition fees may be covered by institutional merit-based scholarships offered annually to talented international students.
Japan: Annual tuition at national and local public institutions typically ranges between 535,000 and 931,000 yen. Private university undergraduate tuition varies based on the course of study pursued, ranging anywhere between 1,108,000 and 4,189,000 yen. Tuition costs for studies in medicine and other professional science fields are at the higher end of this scale. International students pay the same tuition and fees as domestic students. International students can apply for scholarships from universities, private foundations, local governments, JASSO, and MEXT. It is important to note that students cannot receive a MEXT scholarship and a JASSO scholarship simultaneously. According to a 2019 JASSO Survey, 39.3 percent of international students receive scholarship funding to study in Japan. In addition to scholarships, some universities also offer application fee waivers. Inquiries about these opportunities can be directed to individual universities.
The Netherlands: Tuition rates for non-EU/EEA citizens are set by each university and usually range from approximately 6,000 to 15,000 euros per year. Tuition fees for students with a passport from the EU, EEA, Switzerland, or Surinam are approximately 2,143 euros for 2020-2021 academic year. A select few programs, among them the university colleges, charge between 3,000-4,500 euros. The Dutch government and some institutions offer scholarships or financial aid for students. These opportunities can be found on individual institutions’ websites, or through Study in Holland’s scholarship search tool. FAFSA loans can be used for a few Dutch universities such as Utrecht University and the University of Amsterdam.
New Zealand: Tuition and fees vary across universities and programs. Information is available on respective university websites and the Universities New Zealand website. Generally, the cost of undergraduate tuition and fees for an international student is 23,000 to 33,000 New Zealand dollars per year. US students are eligible to use direct loans from the US Federal Student Aid program at some postsecondary institutions in New Zealand.
Korea: Generally, the fees for private universities are 3 to 5 million won per semester, while those of national universities are 2 to 3 million won. Some private universities also charge a one-time admission fee of 800,000 won. There is some variation depending on university and program, so it is important to check the university website or contact the institution’s admission office before applying. There is a range of excellent scholarship opportunities available for international students, including GKS scholarships, which pay all tuition fees and provide a living allowance for the duration of study, including a year of fully-funded Korean language tuition. Visit Study in Korea for more details.
Spain: The cost of tuition at Spanish universities varies by the type of degree a student enrolls in (official or unofficial) and by the nature of the university (public or private). The cost of public universities is regulated by the General Assembly for University Policy (Conferencia General de Política Universitaria) and the regional governments where they reside. While the universities are not allowed to raise tuition for Spanish and EU students, legislation does allow them to increase the fees for international students. It is important to research each institution individually to assess the true cost of tuition for an international student. However, public university tuition for international students can still be considerably cheaper than the cost of attending a private university. The cost of tuition at Spanish universities varies greatly. For public universities, tuition for an academic year typically ranges between 680 and 2,100 euros, and at private universities it ranges between 5,500 and 18,000 euros. The Study in Spain website provides guidance on how to obtain a grant or scholarship to study in Spain. Including resources from the Spanish Ministry of Education, Culture, and Sport.
United Kingdom: Each university sets its own fees. Annual tuition fees for international students range from about 10,000 to 21,000 pounds per year, with the exception of medical courses which can be up to 38,000 pounds per year. US students are eligible to use direct loans from the US Federal Student Aid program at most UK universities. Some scholarships are available for international students. The British Council website can provide more details.
United States: Each college sets its own tuition, housing, meals, and other fees. Generally, published costs are lower at public universities, however, private universities may provide more generous financial aid, though policies on aid to international students vary widely. Public universities charge tuition based on whether a student resides in the state. For out-of-state students, including international students, the average undergraduate tuition at a four-year public school is approximately US$16,000 per year. Private universities do not differentiate tuition based on residency, and the average cost is approximately US$37,000 per year. At both public and private universities, international students may be charged additional fees. Cost of attendance is a term used to describe an estimate of the full costs of attending a specific college for one year. Universities include this information on their websites, both for domestic and international students. Total cost of attendance (factoring in tuition, housing, required insurance, mandatory fees, books, and miscellaneous expenses), can approach US$80,000 at some institutions, though it can be much lower at others.
EducationUSA provides information about paying for college in the US. NAFSA: Association of International Education provides detailed information on financial aid for international undergraduate students studying in the US. The Institute of International Education provides selected information about scholarships programs for international students in the US. Scholarship and award programs for international undergraduates vary greatly by institution.