|

Study Abroad Timeline: When to Apply to European Colleges

The planning process to pursue American colleges is pretty well known, but we get a lot of questions about the study abroad timeline as a direct student in Europe. To be clear, we don’t consider college in Europe as study abroad since the students are in Europe for the duration of their studies, but many newcomers to the topic see the term as synonymous, so we are including it here. While it is possible to start at any point throughout the process, here is what we suggest from a planning perspective. Interested in graduate school? We have suggestions for that too at the end of the post!

Freshman and Sophomore Year

I recently had a roundtable discussion with several of our members who are studying in Europe. Many of them of them said that they wish they had a more robust study abroad timeline earlier in high school!  They all said that this would have helped with course planning, allowing them to pursue electives (related or unrelated to their area of study), spread out the APs, and to not stress about US admissions requirements.

Many parents think freshman year is too young to start. I agree that it is too young to choose a specific program and school, but it is not too young to start considering the idea or and options around college in Europe. This could start with an exploration of our free resources-like our free webinars (one for students, one for parents), blog posts, and podcast episodes. You can also find more in-depth information in College Beyond the States: European Schools that Will Change Your Life without Breaking the Bank. This book was published a few years ago and there have been some changes to details around admissions and such.  You can purchase the physical copy through Amazon and check our blog for details, or purchase the ebook through our site and you will get an email detailing the changes.

Spending some time digging into this information will help you all decide whether college in Europe is something you want to pursue or not. Many families join Beyond the States during this time, either for a few months or taking advantage of the savings offered by our lifetime membership option. Joining at this stage of the game can serve many purposes:

  • You can confirm that there are enough options of interest. You might find that there are enough appealing options that you won’t need to participate in the US admission process.
  • You can check whether the types of programs and countries that appeal to you have extra admissions requirements (AP and sometimes SAT) which will allow you to plan your courses accordingly.
  • You can plan deliberate ways to explore academic interests and explore how they might relate to potential areas of study. The How to Choose A Major course is another good option that helps with this!

This is also a great time to explore whether you have any possibility of dual citizenship. Dual citizenship allows the student to pay substantially decreased tuition costs in all the countries we have listed.

How great are the savings? The cost for an international student to attend the Liberal Arts and Sciences program at University College Groningen in the Netherlands is 12,850 EUR while for EU/EAA students the cost is 4,300 EUR, so the savings are massive!

If a student’s parent holds an EU passport, this is already part of the discussion. It is less well known that citizenship can passed down from the grandparents as well in some European countries such as Spain, Italy, Ireland, Germany, and others. The topic of immigration law is beyond the scope of the Beyond the States project, so you’ll have to research the topic on your own. Here’s a link to an article get you started on your researching path.

Junior Year Timeline

This is the part of the study abroad timeline that most families and students find Beyond the States. The goal this year is to identify the specific programs and schools that you are interested in, are within your budget, and match your qualifications.  This is a deeper dive than what occurred during the freshman and sophomore years and should include an exploration of individual needs and preferences around location, teaching approach, curriculum, university specific criteria, and more.

Most schools now offer virtual tours and online workshops throughout the year, particularly since Covid-19 put a temporary halt on international travel. While a number of our members started at universities without visiting ahead of time (even before Covid-19), junior year is a great time for visits, if possible. University visits are much different in Europe, and frequent/regularly occurring tours aren’t prevalent. Visits can still be useful and it’s often possible to meet with the school and potentially current students. Many schools offer in person events at specific times during the year as well. I suggest doing visits after the initial list is narrowed down a bit. It’s important to note that the feel of many places in the summer is quite different than when students are present. Thanksgiving is an ideal time, since you could spend a full week in  Europe and only miss two days of school.

There are several resources we offer to help with this stage.  Junior year is the prime time for our On Your Mark Masterclass, which is offered in the summer, fall, and spring each year. This is a six week class that takes students through the process of choosing an area of study and identifying the schools and programs that best fit their individual needs. The other benefit is the community it builds with other students who are pursuing these options!  If the class doesn’t fit your schedule or budget, you can choose the self paced Choosing A University Course. Many families opt for our best selling Best Fit List during junior year. This is a service in which BTS founder, Jenn Viemont, personally hand picks a list of 3-5 programs that meet the students individual needs. These services are available with or without membership, but the ongoing member resources are incredibly valuable at this stage.  We have a group of student ambassadors (BTS members already studying in Europe) who answer member questions in our students-only facebook group and parents who have navigated these options who provide incredible support and information in our members only facebook group.  Membership also includes access to monthly answers from Jenn through Office Hours recordings, as well as webinars, discounts, monthly highlighted programs, searchable database access, and more! The annual membership is perfect for juniors, as it provides two months free as well as credits to be used for BTS services. If there are other students in the home who may pursue the options (whether younger or older for grad school) the lifetime membership can provide tremendous savings as well!

Senior Year (or later)

We’re nearing the end of the study abroad timeline and it’s application time!  Many schools have rolling admission periods that start as early as October.  Some have admissions periods that don’t begin until later in the year.  Because of the transparent admissions procedures, most of the students we work with apply to just 1-3 programs. There just isn’t a need for any more than that!  The beginning of the year will require narrowing down the list, determining an application timeline and working on motivation letters.  Issues pertaining to immigration/residency permits and housing don’t begin until after you are accepted, usually in late spring.

Don’t worry if you are just learning about these options in senior year! Though you do need to hit the ground running, we have many resources to help.  Our fall  On Your Mark Masterclass sessions is often full of seniors just starting their pursuit. A few weeks after that class ends, we offer our annual Get Set Masterclass, which walks students through the application process.  We also offer a limited number of Crunch Time Packages for seniors in the fall and again in the spring, which includes a best fit list, an hour long consultation with Jenn to discuss the admissions plan, an admissions timeline with calendar, motivation letter review, and two email check ins to make sure the student is on track. Most of these services can be purchased separately as well.

What About a Study Abroad Timeline for Graduate School?

The biggest obstacle American students have when pursuing graduate school in Europe is that most require that applicants have a related major. This is generally defined as a set number of credits achieved in the study areas that the university defines as “related”. There are also sometimes requirements for research related classes. For these reason, the ideal time to start exploring is when you still have time to register for and take these required courses. Starting before the second semester of your junior year gives you ample time to plan accordingly.  In fact, even if you are continuing in the same field of study, this is the ideal plan to start since there are a number of master’s degree programs with international student deadlines as early as January. Our master’s degree membership at this level includes monthly webinars that help students navigate the Europe specific considerations, monthly office hours with Jenn, as well as the searchable database.. Due to the  massive number of options for master’s degree program, a Best Fit List is a great way to jump start the process! If there are younger siblings who might consider studying in Europe, the lifetime membership can be a great choice since it includes access to our bachelor’s and master’s degree resources and databases.

Remember-exploring the options does not have to mean that you are committed to them! The research will allow you to make an informed decision about where you study, be it in the US, Europe, or elsewhere in the world. Bottom line is that though there are certainly ideal times to start the process, it’s not too early or too late no matter what stage you are in!

 

|

Why Study in Hungary? Sidney’s Study Abroad Story

From suburban Seattle to city life in Hungary! Let’s hear from another one of our incredible student ambassadors to answer the question: “Why study in Hungary?” Meet Sidney, who is in her second year at the University of Debrecen in Debrecen, Hungary studying to get her Bachelor of Science in Biology. –Jenn

Growing up and attending school in Renton, Washington, at least once a year we would have to attend assemblies. A variety of people would come in to talk to our school about college and how to start planning for my future now for when I got to high school, I would be prepared to take the steps to get into university. They told us about universities in-state, and the possibilities of each of us going out of state if we dared. They never mentioned the possibility of going out of the country to get our education so I never knew that was a choice I could make. Instead, I thought trying to get into an ivy league school was what I should do, until I realized realistically and financially for me and my parents, that was not possible.

By the time I reached high school, I was fortunate enough to have visited many countries outside the U.S, including several in Europe. Those trips had me falling in love with new cultures, meeting new people, and getting to open my mind to different ways of seeing the world. When my mom found Beyond the States, she told me that it was completely doable for me to attend university in Europe instead of staying in the states, if that is what I would be interested in. College in Europe? I thought – no way, that is only something reserved for the rich, not for everyday people.

After a lot of research on universities in Europe using Beyond the States and many university websites, I decided yes this is what I want to do. I ended up applying and getting accepted into universities in the Netherlands and Hungary. I am now in my second year at the University of Debrecen in Why Study in Hungary Debrecen, Hungary studying to get my Bachelor of Science in Biology. The application process was easier than that of what my friends had to do in the states. Why study in Hungary? The universities here give you clear directions as to what they require when you apply, certificate of education, transcript (showing 3-4 AP classes under your belt), a one-page cover letter, and the universities application form. They do not require SAT or ACT scores and knowing this a couple of years before those tests occurred, I planned on not taking them when they happened.

Being a student here has been an amazing experience. My degree program has allowed me to study so many more subjects than an American university would have in the same amount of time. I also get to have more hands-on experience with researchers, especially in my third (and last) year, which will help me in knowing how a career in the science fields will function in the future. My degree will not only help me continue my education wherever I go, but also make me stand out against others when I ultimately look to find a job.

So, in the final analysis, why study in Hungary? All in all, 5 years ago if you had told me I would be in Europe getting my bachelor’s degree I would have thought you were crazy. Going to university here has been the best decision I have made. I will get my bachelor’s degree in a shorter amount of time, getting life and career experience, meeting my best friends, all while seeing the world.

I have met some of the most incredible people from all over the world from different walks of life, getting to know about their families, countries, traditions, and it has been a life-changer. We all started with the same foundation of going to university in a new country far from family, and that really helps the students connect, help each other, whilst making lasting bonds and overall, just having a good time together.

Yikes! There are only two seats left for our popular, upcoming College in Europe Masterclass. Take advantage of a $75 savings by using the code earlybird. Members also receive an automatic discount of $150, and the earlybird discounts expire this Friday, April 30. Click here for more information on dates and registration. 

|

College in Europe Masterclass

Is there anyone more honest with a parent than a teenage daughter? If I truly want to know if a pimple is noticeable, how my hair looks, or if the dinner I cooked is good, Ellie is my go-to. Sometimes the “helpful feedback” even comes without solicitation….Therefore, when I had Ellie take the On Your Mark masterclass in January, I braced myself for a non-sugarcoated assessment. While Ellie did-of course- have a number of suggestions, we were both pleased by what she got out of the course.

Especially over the last year, I had made suggestions for programs she should look at. Many times, her response non-committal or she dismissed the program for reasons that I don’t think should be part of her initial criteria. Having her go through the process herself and really identify herself how her interests align with specific European study areas, determine the types of educational approaches that are important to her, and figure out what her own dealbreakers and preferences are as they pertain to location, student life, and academic life was powerful!

She ended the class with a number of programs she is interested in. Some are programs that I had suggested (I tried to keep my I told you sos to myself) and other were programs that hadn’t been on my radar for her. She ended the course invested in the process, with a solid understanding of what she is looking for, and having met a group of kids who are also pursuing these options.

The community aspects is especially key. Students meet each other in our three live calls and are also part of a private instagram group that includes some of our student ambassadors (in case they have questions for current students). We had two students who took the first session of the class and ended up at the same university this fall. Knowing someone from before day one was incredibly helpful, given the circumstances students around the world were coping with this year!

We have other students who learned about us through our member Liza, who has a huge TikTok following. Because she goes to AAU, in Prague, a lot of our students come into the class thinking that’s where they will go. By completing the lessons and assignments, they find other options that are better suited to their own individual needs, qualifications, preferences, and interests.

The On Your Mark Masterclass is a six week course. Each week includes video lessons and exercises to complete around those lessons. We meet as a group (on zoom) alternating Sunday afternoons, where the student get to know each other and can also ask me any questions that have come up through the week. The other three Sundays, students send me their assignments so I can give feedback about other types of programs that are aligned with their interests, suggestions about the schools on their list (ones they might have missed or concerns about ones they have identified), and next steps.

The first week provides the foundation, with lessons pertaining to the differences between college in the US and Europe (admissions, student life, academic life, etc). Week two focuses on choosing their area of study, preferably identifying multidisciplinary types of programs that include more than one of their interest areas. Week three is all about determining the concrete criteria to use for the initial search. Week four is especially fun since it focuses on location!Students set their criteria around what is important to them in a location, to ensure that they don’t miss out on great places they’ve never heard of that do, in fact, meet their criteria. They then narrow the previous week’s program list based on their location dealbreakers. Week five narrows their list even further based on university and program specific criteria they learn how to set. Week six concludes the course with discussion of next steps, be it how to narrow their list down further, create an admissions timeline, and/or cultivate skills needed for success as an international student.

We have been offering this course for two years (three times a year) and the last few sessions have been filled to capacity. Through the end of April, you can take advantage of a $75 savings by using the code earlybird. Members also receive an automatic discount of $150. Click here for more information on dates and registration.

|

Student Ambassador – Hannah

Hannah, from Indiana, is in her second year of study at Erasmus University Rotterdam. She’s in a program that’s super popular with our members-Management of International Social Challenges. Student members can join our students-only member facebook group to ask Hannah, and our eight other student ambassadors, any questions.

Like many of our student ambassadors, Hannah found this program through our best fit list service.  This list is handpicked by Jenn to meet the students interests, qualifications, budget, and preferences.  Through the end of April, you can get your first month of Beyond the States membership FREE with the purchase of a best fit list. Order your master’s best fit service here, and your bachelor’s best fit service here.

 

 

|

What Can You Do With a Degree in Sustainability Studies?

“It used to be that I could eavesdrop on a conversation and learn that the two men at the next table were doctors, or that one was a massage therapist and the other sold life insurance for cats.  Now, though, I have no idea what anyone does, especially if the people I’m listening in on are under forty. I hear the words “integration” and “platform” a lot, but not in any recognizable context”

-David Sedaris, from Calypso

I can relate!  There are just so many professions-and fields of study-now that weren’t really a thing when I was in college or entering the work force. Though the career possibilities have grown exponentially since then, many high school students I meet (and their parents) still aren’t aware of them.

As you may know, students in Europe apply to a specific field of study, which is like knowing their major ahead of time. This sometimes scares students, because they see it as choosing a career. This is a misconception though, since many programs are multidisciplinary and/or can lead to a number of different careers. I often advise students to start by looking into the areas of study related to their interests and exploring associated careers from there.

I thought it might be helpful to have a series of posts that explore the careers that are associated with certain fields, starting with Sustainability.  Was this even a term used when I was growing up?  Not one used in the environmental context (which is probably one of the reasons the Earth is in its current condition…). People may have studied earth science or environmental science related topics back in the day, but the multidisciplinary sustainability studies programs just weren’t a thing.

I meet a lot of students who are interested in studying sustainability, but not with the hard core science/engineering focus.  There are a number of programs around this in Europe that appeal to then, but they (and their parents) often wonder what type of job this degree qualifies them for.

I did a bit of research and learned that many companies hire Sustainability Analysts and/or Sustainability Managers, But what does that mean?  I find that LinkedIn job descriptions are great for this type of information, so I dug in. There were 96,307 jobs listed on LinkedIn under Sustainability in the EU and US combined, many of which fell under these types of positions. In a nutshell, these positions involve helping companies in ways that pertain to sustainability initiatives (the companies own goals or the goals for their clients). This can include the overall operational emissions, specific resources used by the company (such as water, waste, energy), and/or materials used for specific products or packaging.  The positions generally involve analyzing the use of these resources and making recommendations and/or implementing strategies to meet the specified goals.  These positions may also include educating various departments about their part achieving the goals and sometimes might include outreach to the public about related programs.  Companies I saw listing these types of jobs include Ralph Lauren, Nespresso, American Express, Deloitte and-given the large number of job posts-many, many more!

Most of the websites for universities have a section about related careers for the particular programs. Many sustainability programs note that graduates go on to work at NGO’s and think tanks. The jobs at these types of organizations vary, but if you work for an NGO or think tank that focuses on environmental issues, then your work-in some way-will related to sustainability. The website for The World Wildlife Fund puts it in such a great way. They say “So whether you’re working at a desk in our D.C. office, attending a climate change meeting in Europe, or relocating rhinos in Nepal, you have the benefit of knowing that everything you do is part of WWF’s global effort to conserve life on Earth.”

The other possibility is to continue with more specialized master’s degree programs, which speak to sustainability in a particular sector or field. Our database has master degree programs that connect sustainability and areas like agriculture, urban planning, tourism, governance, fashion, product design, healthcare, development, law, economics, natural sciences, engineering, and more! Even if the estimates of this being a $12 trillion market by 2030 are a little off, continued growth in this area seems inevitable!

Interested in exploring the other English-taught bachelor’s and master’s degree programs in Europe? Explore the many ways we can help here.

 

https://youmatter.world/en/jobs-careers-sustainability-options/

|

Travel Experiences as a Student in Europe

This week’s post is written by one of our student ambassadors. Sam (yes, that Sam…) is from North Carolina is a student at Erasmus University Rotterdam.

 

Travel opportunities played a significant role in my decision to go to college in Europe. My family made international travel a priority ever since I was about six years old. One of my favorite trips was visiting my uncle in Istanbul when I was 13. I was able to see what it’s like to actually live in another country, as opposed to the less authentic experience of a tourist. This trip made me realize that I wanted to, at some point, live outside of the US. I had a similar realization when I did a summer language program in Morocco. I lived with a Moroccan family and got to experience the local culture firsthand. When I learned that I could go to college in Europe, where I could live in another country AND easily travel to so many places, I knew it was what I wanted to do. 

I moved to the Netherlands in 2019  and the ease of travel compared to the US is unbelievable! I can travel to many places by train, which is so much more comfortable and easy than flying! When I do need to fly, it’s not hard to find cheap airline tickets, which has made it easy to take long weekend trips with friends. Before COVID, I went to Morocco with some friends and the ticket was only 80 euros round trip and the expenses of the trip were half of that! I’ve also been to Portugal many times to visit family, and I spent about a week in Prague. Over the summer, my friends and I spent a week hiking and camping a route on the Camino de Santiago, from Portugal to Spain. Further, the Netherlands is so small that I have been able to visit different cities in the country as well.

Obviously, COVID has put a stop to all of my other travel plans for the time being, but I have many more planned for when things are back to normal. If travel is open again, I will be taking a week long bike trip through Bavaria over spring break and plan to visit friends in Spain, France, and Germany over the summer. Of course, I will visit my family in Portugal and perhaps another hike will be planned as well! I will also be taking trips to visit schools as a student ambassador for Beyond the States. The bottom line is if you like to travel and experience the world for yourself, college in Europe is something you should explore.

 

 

 

 

|

Cost of College in Europe: How to Save $171,250

Each month, I choose a program to highlight for our members. This is usually a program that has some sort of unique feature or offering but may not be on our member’s radars.  More often than not, these are programs I have not yet visited (since I already have provided information about those through public blogs and member resources), but are on my-now lengthy-list to visit once that’s possible again. I recently started looking at the cost of college in Europe and found massive savings are possible.

Last month, I wrote about RIT Croatia and have been thinking a lot about the cost of college in Europe since then. There are different types of American schools in Europe, and I always proceed with caution around these.  There are some that cater more to study abroad students, some that don’t allow students to complete their entire degree in Europe, and many that charge American size tuition without a real reason to justify it. There are a handful of American schools that I do think highly of and that don’t overcharge their students. AAU in Prague is a member favorite and I’m a fan of McDaniel College in Budapest as well.

cost of college in Europe

Similar to how McDaniel has their main campus in Maryland and a global campus in Budapest, Rochester Institute of Technology has their main campus in New York and a number of global campuses around the world. Their European campus is in Croatia (RIT Croatia), with programs held both in Zagreb and Dubrovnik (also known as the Game of Thrones set…).   Students graduate with a Croatian and American diploma-one from RIT Croatia and one from Rochester Institute of Technology in NY. This means that students are graduating from a school that is accredited in the US and has AACSB accreditation (great for business programs) for just 6400 euros per year (which is about $7,750)! The amazing thing is that students at the US campus pay $50,564 per year in tuition!

 

The program I wrote about last month was the Web and Mobile Computer program.  As I went through the details, I was looking for a major difference between the offering in Croatia versus Rochester. Why else would someone pay $50k a year for something that they could get for less than $8k per year, the cost of college in Europe? I compared the courses for this program at both locations and they were pretty much the same. I looked at faculty background and it was also just about the same. Internship opportunities were also the same for students at both campuses. And students graduating from RIT Croatia get the same degree as those studying in New York (along with an additional degree from Croatia).

Now, the Rochester campus has 85 different bachelor’s degree options and more than 70 master’s degree options while the Croatia campus offers just three bachelor’s and two master’s. You wouldn’t have the options for majors in Biomedical Engineering, Criminal Justice or Film and Animation in Croatia.  But for a student who knows that they want to study International Business, IT, or Hospitality/Tourism, it seems worth serious consideration!

The other difference pertains to non-academic life. You won’t have a Greek life in Croatia (though your aren’t far from Greece itself), there is not a Division 1 hockey team on campus, nor is there an Exploration and Geocaching club.  That’s not to say that student life is lacking in Croatia (or elsewhere in Europe), it’s just different and tied more to the city than the school itself.  Of course, RIT Croatia does have a number of clubs pertaining to academic interests, sports, socialization, and annual events-just nowhere near the level of a large American university.

More than anything, this school has me thinking about what you are and aren’t paying for when going to college in Europe (or in the US).  I had this conversation with students at McDaniel when I visited Budapest a couple of years ago. Given that many of their students had studied in the US as well and pay much less for tuition in Budapest, it was an interesting conversation. These students, who were American, felt that the cost of their American higher education experiences did not correlate with value at all. Some of our student ambassadors note that there are some parts of American college life that they wish they had. They were all quick to note that they wouldn’t trade their current experience for that, though, and that their student life in Europe has unique benefits that wouldn’t be possible in the US.  As a parent funding my kid’s education, I would have a hard time justifying paying $171,250 more in tuition over the four year just for the US specific social experience. The great thing is that RIT Croatia students can get a taste of both since they can spend up to a year at the New York campus paying their Croatian tuition rate (along with a study abroad fee which includes room and board).

Personally, I don’t think it’s important to go to an European school that has American accreditation. Given that all of the universities we have listed are fully accredited and the degrees are recognized internationally, there are very few circumstances in which American  accreditation would matter.  And, of course, there are many incredible options at European schools that have more program choices and lower tuition even than RIT Croatia. That said, people have different comfort levels with the degree of change and some may find the familiarity comforting. I really love that there really are options for all types of students in Europe!

 

 

|

Student Ambassador Experience-Andrea in Utrecht

This week we hear from another one of our student ambassadors!  Andrea is from Andover Massachusetts and is in her first year of the liberal arts program at Utrecht University.
Read on to learn more about her experience.

My decision to attend college in Europe was made in my senior year of high school in Andover, Massachusetts, where I have lived almost all my life. Growing up in this suburbia, I was comfortable with the way things were and generally thought I would continue to live in the same area for my college years as well. However, after being exposed to BTS through a family friend, I began growing curious of what other opportunities could be out there for me.

I ended up applying to universities in the Netherlands and Czechia, and am currently in my second semester at University College Utrecht, one of the few liberal arts colleges in the Netherlands. This liberal arts curriculum allows me to explore my interests and combine them to create a unique degree. The courses are split up in three sections: Sciences, Social Sciences, and Humanities. There are no GenEd requirements, except that you must try out at least one class in each of the disciplines in your first year. The program is three years instead of the four years I would be taking in the US, but don’t let that fool you, it is shorter but the course load and curriculum is equally difficult if not harder than that at US schools. At the end of my second year, I have to choose a discipline to major in, within which I have to finish “tracks” or a series of courses in a certain subject to graduate. I am leaning towards taking an Interdisciplinary Major by combining the Social Sciences and Humanities.

My classes have been enriching and interesting, as I have been able to learn about historical events and methods of thinking through a completely different perspective. I have been able to recognize some of the biases or misconceptions I may have as a result of growing up in one area for so long. The classes are also relatively small at UCU, so a close connection with the professor is possible in case I ever need help or have specific questions.

The application process for UCU was similar to that of schools in the US, except that I needed to turn in my AP scores. This added a bit of stress to the process, but I also applied to other universities and university colleges in the Netherlands. The universities here have a set of requirements that if you meet, your acceptance is almost guaranteed, which definitely gave me an added sense of security as I was applying.

The decision to move across the Atlantic to pursue a higher education proved to be worth it. Not only will I graduate without student loans, but I also will receive a degree unique from many other of my peers in the US. The friends I have made here have also helped me grow, and learning about their experiences across the globe has greatly enriched my day-to-day life.

 

 

|

Is Free Tuition the Most Affordable Option?

We sometimes get emails from students who say that they want to find information about universities with free tuition, but that they can’t afford to pay for our services. The concern I have is that these students have a misconception about what it will actually cost to study and live in Europe.

The Beyond the States database contains over 75 English-taught bachelor’s degree programs and 857 English-taught master’s degree programs that charge zero tuition for international students. These programs are mainly in Norway, Iceland, and Germany. But “free tuition” does not actually mean cost free.

The first thing students need to consider is proof of means, which is  more properly described as “proof of means of subsistence”. Essentially, this is the minimum amount of income a student will need to live as a student. This is an amount set by the individual country’s government as part of the immigration process. Students who aren’t EU citizens need to provide proof that they have the  full amount for the year during the immigration process.  

Norway is one of the countries that offers international students free tuition at their public universities.  It truly is a remarkably beautiful place. During our visit there in 2016, we really enjoyed everything that was on offer. One thing that became immediately apparent was the high cost of living. According to Expatistan, Oslo, Norway’s capital, is slightly more expensive than Los Angeles (after New York and San Francisco, LA is the 3rd most expensive city in the US). 

An international student in Norway will pay no tuition, but they will pay more than 10,000 euros a year on housing, food, transportation, and leisure expenses (and that is on a VERY tight budget).  In fact, proof of means in Norway is 10800 euros which often allows for a very modest lifestyle. Estonia has many similarities to the Nordic countries, and students do pay an average of 3168 euros per year in tuition. However, the living costs are so much lower that EVEN WITH TUITION, they end up paying almost 2000 euros less per year. Of course, because cost of living is so much lower, the amount of money you need for proof of means is also easier to swallow at 4500 euros per year.

Families and students are frequently drawn to the “free college in Germany” idea. Of course, the admissions requirements often create obstacles for students.  The cost of living in Germany can be quite reasonable. Berlin is on the more expensive side at just 28% less expensive than LA.   However, it would still be a mistake to focus solely on Germany.

Let’s compare Germany to the Czech Republic.  Proof of means in Germany is 10236 euros and is 3600 euros in the Czech Republic.  Depending on the source, Berlin is anywhere from 32%49% more expensive than Prague. Even using the lower cost difference, a student in the Czech Republic would have 41 bachelor’s and 98 master’s options in which they would pay the same for living AND tuition as they would pay for living expenses alone in Germany.

While these aren’t all necessarily dramatic differences, we are comparing your overall expenses including tuition. The fact that you can pay less overall while paying a few thousand euros a year in tuition is precisely the reason not to confine your search to only those with free tuition. For a student who has a tight budget, those savings can mean a lot and/or open up a lot of options that are comparable in cost.

Let’s go back to the student who has a very tight budget and doesn’t think they can afford to work with Beyond the States. We have a self paced course called Choosing A University in Europe.  This course walks students through the process of choosing a European university (for bachelor’s)*that fits their criteria and includes 30 days of database access.  Membership is not required for the course, which costs $75.  Without taking this course, a budget minded student might confine their search to free tuition and not know that they need to come up with over 10000 euros for proof of means. They might apply in Norway, not knowing that you need a certain number of AP courses.  They might not be aware of one of my favorite universities in the Czech Republic which has a Environmental Studies program for under 1000 euros per year.

The knowledge gained after making this one time payment will save you endless hours and minimize the risk of making costly mistakes. It also has the potential to save you thousands of dollars. Of course, if you are comparing to US prices, the savings potential is mind-blowing!  

We would love to help you find life-changing opportunities within your budget! Use coupon code “affordable” through March 7th to save 20% on the Choosing A University Course or your first month of bachelor’s or master’s membership.

***Our master’s membership includes webinars that walk students through the same process.