GI Bill: Can It Be Used for College in Europe?

Josh is a former US Marine from Florida who now studies International Relations at the University of Warsaw in Poland.  His first international exposure came during his years of overseas duty. His posting to the Marine Corps Embassy Security Group  really increased his interest in higher education and stoked a desire for continued international experiences.  He also met his now-wife while serving at the US Embassy in Warsaw.  Josh’s studies are financed through the GI Bill which, until recently, I didn’t realize could be used to fund college in Europe (more info here)!

Why Are Veterans So Well Suited for College or Grad School in Europe?

  • They have gained international exposure through their service.
  • They tend to be older and more mature than typical students in the US.
  • Their benefits really are confined to state schools in which they live or have residency, since $23,672 won’t go very far for towards out of state or private school tuition.
  • Their experience in the military has taught the skills needed to deal with bureaucratic processes that are often involved in studying abroad.

What Are the Benefits Under the GI Bill?

Benefits under the Post 9/11 GI bill vary based on the amount of time served after 9/11/01. Those who had active duty for 3 months get 40% of benefits up to those who served for 3 years who get 100% of benefits.

100% of benefits include:

  • Full tuition for in state and up to $23,672 for out of state or private or international (veterans can get in state tuition where they live or have official residence).
  • $1,000 per year for books.
  • $1,650 monthly living allowance

What are the Options in Europe?

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There are 735 universities in continental Europe that offer English-taught bachelor’s and/or master’s degree programs.  More than 220 of these schools accept the GI Bill. The only countries that don’t have any schools that accept the GI Bill are Monaco and Slovenia.  All the others countries have options! In fact, more than half of the bachelor’s and master’s degree programs in our database accept the GI Bill!

Of these 4,300+ English taught bachelor’s and master’s degree programs that accept the GI Bill, only 177 have tuition that is greater than the max benefts.  Most of these more expensive programs are either MBA programs, Fine/Performing Arts programs in Sweden, or programs held at American schools with a European campus (surprise…).

Here are just a few examples of universities that offer programs of interests and are fully covered by the GI Bill (assuming the student has 100% benefits) :

 

Tallinn University of Technology, Tallinn, Estonia

What better place to study cyber security than Estonia?

On my first visit there, I was surprised to learn about all their technological advances, their focus on internet connectivity (including free WiFi throughout Tallinn), e-society (CNBC Story), electronic voting, and unique cyber-security programs. This from a country that was under Soviet rule until just 1991! Tal Tech offers both a bachelor’s and master’s degree program in Cyber Security.

The curriculum is designed to provide higher education in the extremely hot field of Cyber Security, integrating software development and IT systems administration. Graduates of this curriculum will be able to independently design, operate and manage secure IT systems. Cyber security personnel are in high demand right now. The unemployment rate in the field is 0% and there are estimates that there will be 3.5 million unfilled positions in 2021.

The university offers a total of 20 English-taught bachelor’s and master’s degree programs, primarily in the fields of business, engineering, technology and computer science. Tuition ranges from 2,300-6,000 euros per year.

 

University of Groningen, Groningen, Netherlands

The city of Groningen has a tremendous amount to offer students. It is the youngest city in the Netherlands, with half of the population under the age of 35. Further 25% of the residents are students. The decentralized campus means that the various university buildings are located throughout the city, which makes the city and university feel very connected-like the town is serving as one big campus. Though it’s a city with a population of more than 200,000, it retains a community feel. Groningen is also a world cycling city and residents say that the city center is busy but quiet, since there are so few cars. Truly an incredible student city!

The University of Groningen is one of the oldest in Europe, founded in 1614. They have a strong international student body, at 20%, representing 120 different countries. I don’t think I could even name 120 countries!

The university offer 34 bachelor’s and 116 master’s program, all 100% English taught. Not only are there programs representing most study disciplines, but most of them are multidisciplinary in nature. For instance, the Internal Law program includes courses in politics science, economics and international relations.  The Life Science and Technology program covers biology, pharmacy, physics, chemistry, and engineering. There is really something for almost everyone here! Tuition ranging from 8,900 to 15,500 EUR per year, all well under the GI Bill spending limit.

 

University of Bocconi, Milan, Italy

gi billBocconi just about has it all-triple crown accreditation,  a centralized campus in the incredible city of Milan, a truly international approach to education-and, of course, Italian food! They ensure that class size is conducive to interactions and the classroom layout is intentionally designed to create an interactive environment.

Many schools SAY say that emphasize internationalism, but Bocconi really backs it up. Every professor that has been hired over the last 15 years has had international experiences themselves-they are either non-Italian or an Italian who received their Ph.D in another country.  Bocconi sees the value of providing international exposure throughout the study period. Bachelor’s students are required to learn two additional languages during their studies and students are strongly encouraged to study abroad (in some cases it is mandatory).

Given that this is a business school, almost all of the programs are related to economics and management.  That said, in addition to pure business programs like Finance and International Management, there are also programs that integrate business with other areas of study.  Examples include:

  • Economics and Management for Arts, Culture, and Communication
  • Green Management, Energy and Corporate Social Responsibility
  • Economics and Data Science
  • Data Science and Business Analysis
  • Economics and Management of Government and International Organizations

Bocconi offers 27 English-taught bachelor’s and master’s degree programs. All except for 8 of the programs are less than the tuition covered by the GI Bill.

How Can Beyond the States Help?

Beyond the States provides information, resources, and a community of like-minded people to help students explore, apply to, and prepare for higher education in Europe.

Interested in Learning More??

If you’re looking for a bachelor’s degree, click here to get our Five Programs Guide.

If you’re more interested in a Master’s degree, click here to get the Ultimate Guide to Grad School.

Is Getting a Master’s Degree in Europe Right for You?

Did you pass up study abroad opportunities during undergrad or did you study abroad and are eager to go overseas again? If this is you, I have great news: getting a graduate degree in Europe is a great way to improve your career prospects while seeing the world.

More and more, US graduates are supplementing their college education with a master’s degree. Why? “Many entry level jobs today now require a master’s and virtually all senior management and senior professional positions require a master’s,” says Brian D. Kelley, chief information officer at Portage County Information Technology Services. Also, having a master’s degree will allow you to increase your annual income to a greater degree than just a bachelor’s. Plus, if a master’s degree isn’t a requirement for your current position, it will likely be for the next position you want. Having a master’s degree will qualify you to apply for positions in management that your bachelor’s degree and experience alone won’t.

So is this is starting to sound like a good idea? A lot of students would love to get a master’s but are concerned about taking on lots of additional debt and that’s a real concern. The average tuition for US graduate schools starts at $30,000 per year (public universities) and goes up from there. Great news! Education costs are much lower in Europe than the US. There are over 5,000 masters programs with an average tuition of under $8,800/yr. More than 700 are tuition free – even for international students.

Did we mention that you really don’t need a second language to attend grad school in Europe? The over 5,000 masters programs we mentioned above are all taught 100% in English. English as a second language is quite high in Europe, so while you learn to speak like a local, you’ll be able to get by in most places.  Here’s a site that shows English proficiency by country.

Another consideration is the cost of living. There’s a perception that living in Europe is much more expensive than the US, but the reality is different. According to the Independent, here are the 10 most affordable countries to be a student. You can see for yourself. Sites like Expatistan allow you to compare the cost of living in your current city with other cities around the world. For instance, it’s 43% cheaper to live in Tallinn, Estonia than Denver, Colorado.

Here’s another big advantage of going to Europe for grad school: the one-year master’s degree. In many instances, you can get a master’s degree in just a year which can be half the time it would take elsewhere. In the Beyond the States database, there are 952 master’s programs that are one year in duration. A truly frugal person would do well to focus the 176 one year programs that offer tuition between 0 and $5,000, then begin looking at places with a low cost of living for students.

Getting a degree overseas will build skills that are desired by employers and help you to stand out in the job market. Today, employers are looking to hire people with the soft skills who can excel in cross-functional teams with people from different backgrounds. The emphasis on group work at schools in Europe provides experience in working with different perspectives.  The graduates are often flexible, adaptable, and experienced navigating unfamiliar circumstances  – all of which lead to success in the workplace.

Ready to explore your master’s degree options in Europe? When we began researching college in Europe two years ago, we quickly realized there was no single source of objective information, so we decided to create one with Beyond the States. We say objective because we don’t accept advertising money from schools. We also don’t get any monetary compensation from a school if a student we work with goes there versus another school.

We’ve compiled an online database with 5,278 accredited, English-taught master’s programs for you to search. Our searchable database has information like program descriptions, qualifications, country-by-country visa requirements and more. We also have a section called “Jenn Says” with Jenn’s firsthand observations from school visits and expert’s insight. To learn more, visit our master’s membership page.