Going to college abroad: Does it actually save money?]

Going to college abroad: Does it actually save money?]

When Emma Freer was a high school student in 2011, her impression of American college culture — sororities, football games, general course requirements — didn’t appeal to her. Her parents had saved enough money to cover her in-state tuition, but, she said, “I knew I didn’t want to go to Ohio State.”

College abroad offered a solution. Freer graduated from Scotland’s University of St. Andrews in 2016 debt-free and holds a master’s degree in English and social anthropology.

“I had a great academic background as well as a second education in travel, living abroad and being a foreigner in a new culture,” Freer said. “I never wanted to go to school in the United States”

Lured in large part by promises of cheaper tuition, college-going Americans are increasingly considering programs abroad.

Over the past five years, UK universities have seen the number of US undergraduate applicants increase by 49%, according to the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service, which runs the admissions system for UK public universities. The number of Americans studying in France has increased 5% over the past five years and jumped 50% from 2020 to 2021, according to Campus France, a French government agency that promotes higher education to foreign students. Meanwhile, Google searches in the United States for “university abroad” have more than doubled since February 2021.

But the affordability of a college education depends on more than tuition. Understand the main costs of an international education before you book a one-way plane ticket.


“Tuition is what attracts people, what gets their attention,” said Jennifer Viemont, founder of Beyond the States, a company that helps American students find degree programs in Europe.

Tuition fees abroad can vary depending on the city, country and type of school you choose. Germany, for example, dropped public university tuition fees for all students – including international ones – in 2014. On the other hand, at the prestigious Oxford University in England, international students pay up to approximately $53,900 per year.

American students can sometimes use federal aid to international schools, including loans. Additionally, undergraduate degrees from schools abroad typically last three years instead of four, saving students a full year of tuition and expenses.

Cost of life

The cost of living varies by city and country, which affects how much you pay for housing, food, and other basic expenses beyond tuition.

For example, Norway has long offered free tuition to all students regardless of background, but the average student should budget around $1,260 per month for living expenses, according to the University of Bergen.

But in Portugal, basic expenses are half of that. A student will need around $640 a month to get by, according to ISPA, the Institute of Applied Psychology in Lisbon.

Exchange rate

Fluctuating exchange rates can make it difficult to predict the total cost of your education, said Jessica Sandberg, dean of international enrollment at Duke Kunshan University, a joint venture between Duke University in North Carolina and China University. from Wuhan.

When Freer studied at St. Andrews, the exchange rate was not in his favor. “I worked all summer to save, and when I deposited the money in my Scottish bank account, it was sometimes almost half of what I had put in dollars,” she said. Tuition fees could vary by a few hundred US dollars, she said, depending on the day she paid her tuition.

Build some flexibility into your budget to account for exchange rate fluctuations and consider studying in a country with a favorable exchange rate.

Transformative Impact: Making Higher Education More Accessible in the United States


other costs

– HEALTH CARE. Many countries require students to pay an annual fee to access their national healthcare system. Although it may cost a few hundred dollars each year, the coverage is generous. When Viemont’s son broke his wrist in the Netherlands, there were no payouts.

– JOURNEY. Students who wish to use their free time for travel should budget for these expenses. Emergencies, such as a family member falling ill, could result in larger travel bills. “It’s more expensive when things go wrong,” advises David Hawkins, founder of British consultancy The University Guys, so set aside some cash for a last-minute flight. Credit card adapted to study abroad could help reduce some travel expenses.

—VISA. Most countries or regions require student visas or residence permits. While these expenses aren’t usually huge, some require “proof of financial means,” explained Sandra Furth, certified educational planner and founder of World Student Support. In the UK, for example, you must show enough savings to cover the first year of tuition, plus at least around $11,200 for living expenses.

“Overseas, the cost of living is a bit more a la carte, and that may be a blessing and a curse for young people who are going to have to budget and make choices,” Sandberg said. “It may turn out to be cheaper, but it will depend on the consumption habits of the individual.”

This article was provided to The Associated Press by personal finance website NerdWallet. Eliza Haverstock is a writer at NerdWallet.

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