5 Countries Where U.S. Students Could Score an Affordable Education

February 27th 2016

Alex Mierjeski

College costs in the United States have soared in recent decades, with average student bills at both public and private schools about 12 times more expensive than they were three decades ago, according to some estimates.

The financial equation of going to college has become so absurd that some American students are giving up on the U.S. and instead flocking to other countries to pursue more affordable degrees. Here are some of the countries that offer enticing options for higher education.

1. Germany


Germany is high on the list of countries with more affordable education, and for good reason: Education here is largely free. German public colleges, which are often highly rated and offer classes in English, are free for both residents and international students. More than 4,600 U.S. students were fully enrolled last year in German universities — an increase of more than 20 percent over three years, the BBC reported.

2. Finland

Finland currently offers tuition-free education for residents and non-residents, though international students will have to pay tuition starting in 2017. Even with the increase, American students will only face an annual tuition cost of 1,500 Euros — about $1,650. That's a fraction of the average annual cost of public universities in the states, which the College Board estimates is just over $9,400.

3. Iceland


Iceland's picturesque landscapes aren't the only stunning thing about the island country: Public universities here are free to both residents and non-residents. International students who attend private universities usually pay between $110 and $160 per credit, according to the website Study in Europe. Still, that's a lower rate than most U.S. schools charge.

4. Norway


Like the countries listed above, Norway does not charge students — Norwegian or otherwise — any tuition at its state universities and colleges. But the country's study abroad landing page warns cash-strapped students of the significant cost of living in Norway compared to other countries. That might throw off the savings equation.

5. Austria


European Union residents are exempt from tuition in Austria; international students are required to pay a per-semester fee of about $800, plus a small, one-time fee to the student union of about $20, according to the Study in Europe website. Again, that cost is far below the tuition fees at most U.S. institutions.

Students should make the decision to move abroad for cheaper college based on their individual circumstances, the Christian Science Monitor advises.

Students should also factor in the expensive air fare and consider that some private universities abroad cost about the same as stateside options. Then there's the cost of your potentially compromised earnings down the road should a hiring manager fail to recognize the foreign university on your resume.

Still, there are benefits of studying abroad, even if your tuition fees there are similar to U.S. averages. "I disagree with the way a lot of things are run at home," Hannah Remo, who is in a European studies program at the Hague University in the Netherlands, told CNN Money. "It blows my mind that college is so expensive in the U.S. It makes me think that I don't want to raise a family there."

"Whether you're the child of a doctor, lawyer or garbage man, you'll have the same opportunity and the same education here," Remo added.