Why I have a hard time justifying $171,250 more just for the US social experience.

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.


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Croatia vs Rochester

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.

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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!

Non-Academic Life

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 a 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!

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