Countries Where Tuition is Free for International Students

A lot of people think that to study abroad, you need a lot of money, come from a wealthy family, or have a scholarship. But that’s not true. Today, I’m excited to share about 16 countries where tuition is free for international students. By free, I mean at public universities where you can pursue your undergraduate, Masters, or even PhD without paying tuition fees. However, you might have to pay a small admission fee and a semester enrollment fee. You will also need to prove that you have enough funds to support yourself while studying in this country. So, yes, you can study for free, but you’ll need to manage your living expenses, and the requirements depend on the country you prefer as your study destination. Some will ask for a blocked account, others don’t require proof of funds, and in some places, you can work while you study. I’ll go through what’s needed for each of these countries.

Many assume studying abroad is out of reach without a lot of money or a scholarship, but that’s a myth. With proper research and the right information, studying abroad is possible, even on a budget. Suppose you have saved up, say, 10,000 Euros and fear it is not enough. In these countries, that could very well suffice as proof of funds to support yourself. Some of these countries will require you to learn the local language or pass an English proficiency test. Let’s get in.

Countries Where Tuition is Free for International Students

1. Germany

You have probably seen other people mention Germany over and over but I’ll tell you why Germany is a tuition-free study destination. Germany offers free education to all international students, including non-EU. The average monthly living cost is also low at €867. Germany is popular for programs in Business Administration, Architecture, Engineering, Data Science, and Law. Top universities here do not charge tuition fees, including Heidelberg University, Free University of Berlin, and Humboldt University of Berlin.

In Germany, public universities have removed tuition fees for undergraduate and postgraduate programs, including bachelor’s and master’s degrees. This means you can study without tuition costs. However, you do need to show they have around 10,332 euros in a blocked account as proof you can cover your living expenses.

While education is free in Germany, international students are still responsible for a small administrative fee each semester, which ranges from 100 to 350 euros. Students can work up to 120 full days or 240 half days per year to support themselves financially. After your studies, you have 18 months to stay in Germany to look for a job in your field.

2. Norway

For students from the EU/EEA, you can study in Norway for free. Norway makes my number 2 as one of the countries where tuition is free for international students. Students from outside EU/EEA areas will pay tuition fees of €13,000. The average monthly living cost is between €1,200 and €1,600. Some of the top Norwegian universities offering free education include the University of Tromso and Bergen University College.

Just like in countries such as Germany and other parts of Europe, you’ll need to show a blocked account or proof of funds for Norway. However, Norway has a unique advantage. You can deposit the required funds into a Norwegian bank account. Once you arrive in Norway, the bank will let you withdraw all the money. You’re free to use it however you wish. You can have relatives, your boss, or a family member send money to your account. This money can then be transferred to the Norwegian account as your proof of funds. When you arrive in Norway, you can simply refund the money back to them. You are also allowed to work part-time while studying in Norway.

You’ll need to show proof of funds of about 127,000 Norwegian Kroner. This amount is sufficient to support your studies in Norway, where public university education is free. While some universities offer free education, others might charge a nominal fee of about 30 to 60 Euros per semester for either a Bachelor’s or Master’s degree program. I talked about Norway as a cheap country for a masters degree—make sure to read that article. The visa application fee for Norway is approximately 5,300 Norwegian Kroner (around 530 Euros).

3. Austria

If you are an international student from the EU or EEA, education is free for you in Austria. However, after the 2 semesters of tolerance, you have to pay €363.36 each semester. If you are a student from a third country in possession of a Residence Permit-Student, you have to pay 726.72 euros per semester.

The average living expenses cost is €900 – €1,300 per month or between 3,000 and 23,000 Euros per year. Austria is known for popular courses such as Law, History, Communication, Language studies, and Pedagogy. Some of the tuition-free universities in Austria are the University of Vienna, the University of Salzburg, and the Medical University of Vienna. You can also work up to 20 hours a week without a work permit. Moreover, graduates can apply for a one-year visa to look for a job.

4. Belgium

Belgium is not exactly one of the countries where tuition is free for international students. But this is why I included this country. At Belgian public universities, tuition fees are typically around €1,000 per year for EU students and between €2,500 and €7,500 per year for non-EU students.

Some of the top courses that attract many students to Belgium include Political Science, International Relations, Journalism, and Economics. Some really cheap universities in Belgium are Erasmus Brussels University of Applied Sciences and Arts, Thomas More University of Applied Sciences, and Hogeschool Gent (HOGENT). While studying in Belgium, students can work up to 20 hours per week. After your studies as a graduate, you can apply for a residence permit valid for one year if you wish to stay and find work. I made a post on Belgium study visa interview questions—check out that article unfailingly.

5. Finland

In Finland, degrees taught in Finnish or Swedish are free. If you are an international student from a country in the EU, EEA, or Switzerland, you do not pay the fees. For international students outside these areas, the tuition fees apply to full-time students in Bachelor or Master programmes. However, PhDs are usually tuition-free. The average monthly cost of living is between €700 and €1,300. Popular fields of study in Finland include Engineering, Business, Computer Science, Education, and Nursing. We also have top universities here, including the University of Helsinki, the University of Vaasa, and Tampere University. As an international student in Finland, you can work up to 30 hours a week during your studies. You can also remain in the country for as long as 2 years after your degrees to find a job.

6. Czech Republic

Degrees taught in Czech for both EU and non-EU students are free. However, degrees taught in English or another foreign language will cost you between €0 and 18,500 per year. The cost of living here in the Czech Republic is cheap too. The expected monthly living cost is just €300 – €650 per month. Some high-demand courses in the Czech Republic are Economics, International Affairs, Tourism, and Architecture.

In the Czech Republic, you can get free education at all public universities, regardless of whether you are a local or an international student. While you won’t need to show proof of funds initially, you need to know the local language since lots of universities offer courses primarily in Czech. However, many institutions also provide programs in English for international students.

When it comes to visa applications, though, you’ll need to demonstrate that you have sufficient funds to support yourself during your stay. This doesn’t mean transferring money to a Czech bank account; rather, you just need to show that you have access to enough funds. A useful tip is to have someone—like a family member or your employer—temporarily lend you the money. They should clearly state that the funds are for your education expenses to ensure that your visa application is smoothly processed without any suspicion. I made an article talking about the Czech Republic study visa interview questions—make sure to read that article.

Students are allowed to work up to 20 hours per week alongside their studies in this country. After your studies, you can apply for a work permit to continue working in the Czech Republic. For your visa application, you can use a guardian or parent’s bank statement instead of your own, and the visa application fee is about 20 Euros.

7. Republic of Cyprus

The cost for Cypriot and EU undergraduate students is €1,709 each semester, adding up to €3,417 for the whole academic year, and this amount is completely covered by the Government. Students from countries outside the EU, who are studying at the undergraduate level, pay a range of fees from €3,417 to €6,834 annually. At the Open University of Cyprus, undergraduate students from Cyprus and the EU are exempt from paying tuition fees, with the only charge being a €700 fee per Thematic Unit. This is why I include Cyprus as one of the countries where tuition is free for international students. Living expenses per month in Cyprus cost between $350 and $500 per month. Some of the popular courses here include Business Management, Computer Engineering, Graphic Design, and Law. Students can work up to 20 hours per week while studying in Cyprus. After your studies as a graduate, you can remain in Cyprus for 60 days to look for a job.

8. Iceland

Public universities in Iceland do not charge tuition fees. However, you have to pay an annual registration or administration fee of around ISK 75,000. Meanwhile, the average monthly cost of living in Iceland is ISK 140,600 to ISK 163,635 per month. Covert the numbers to your currency, and you know what your budget should be. Some of the best universities that offer free education are Bifrost University, Iceland Academy of Arts, and the University of Iceland.

Fortunately, students in Iceland can work up to 15 hours per week during their study period. You could use this opportunity to hustle in more funds, though it may not be a lot. Once you’re in Iceland, you’ll need about 1,200 Euros per month to cover your living expenses, which can be demonstrated using your or your guardian’s bank statement. The cost of living in Iceland is reasonable. For visa purposes, expect to show you have sufficient funds. You’ll also need to provide a criminal record check.

9. Bulgaria

Bulgaria is not exactly one of the countries where tuition is free for international students. However, this country is dirt cheap at just 300 to 3,850 EUR per year for tuition at public universities. Non-EU countries may have to pay €1,750 – €3,850/year. Meanwhile, the Bulgarian government plans to waive tuition fees for graduate students and doctoral students in public schools.

Speaking of the monthly living costs, you will spend about €450 to €650 per month. Some of the courses available in this country include Dentistry Medicine, Pharmacy, Engineering, Veterinary Medicine, and Computer Science. You can apply to study at universities like Trakia University, Technical University of Gabrovo, and Nikola Vaptsarov Naval Academy.

In Bulgaria, students are permitted to work 20 hours per week during the school term and even more during holidays. If you want to remain in Bulgaria after your studies, you can apply for a work visa that lasts for 9 months following graduation.

10. France

For students from the EU/EEA, Andorra, and Switzerland, the annual tuition fees range from €170 to €380—that’s not free but dirt cheap. However, international students from outside these regions pay €2,770 for a Bachelor’s degree and €3,770 for a Master’s degree. The average cost of living in France per month for students is around €900.

France is known for courses in Contemporary Philosophy, History and Philosophy of Art, Management, Engineering, and Film Studies. Well-regarded universities in France include Le Mans University, Sorbonne University, and the University of Clermont Auvergne. You can also work to support your studies in France. Students are allowed to work up to 964 hours annually while studying and can stay in the country for a year after graduation to look for work. I made an article about the Campus France student visa interview questions—make sure to read this article.

11. Denmark

You can study for free in Denmark if you are a student from the EU/EEA area and Switzerland pursuing Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees. If you are an international student who is part of an exchange programme, Danish education is also free for you. You can study in Denmark for free if you already hold a permanent or temporary residence permit.

The average monthly living expenses is €800 to €1,200 in Denmark. Denmark allows students to work up to 20 hours a week and full-time during summer breaks to earn money while studying. You can stay back in this country after your degree, and apply for a work visa that lasts 6 months. However, during the study visa interview, your intention must not be that you plan to work in Denmark, otherwise, your application will be rejected. I talked about the Denmark study visa interview questions—so, check out the article.

12. Greece

At number 12, we have Greece. For students from the EU/EEA, you can study in Greece for free. Students from outside these areas can expect to pay €1,500 per year. Some of the top Greek universities include the University of Crete, the National Technical University of Athens, and Aristotle University of Thessaloniki. The cost of living in Greece is 450 to 750 EUR per month. Also, you are allowed to work for 20 hours per week during the school term and up to 40 hours per week during vacation periods. When applying for a study visa, you cannot say that you plan to work as this can cause a visa rejection. You should read my article about Greece study visa questions and answers to prepare your mind.

13. Poland

You can study full-time (in Polish) at public universities for free as an EU/EEA international student and those with the Polish Charter (Karta Polaka). Other international students must pay tuition fees, which are usually EUR 2000 per year for bachelor’s, master’s, and long cycle programs and EUR 3000 per year for postgraduate, research, arts, specialist, and post-doctoral internships. For a one-year Polish language course to start studies in Polish, you have to pay EUR 2000. The cost of living is between €600 and €900 per month. The Polish law allows international students to work up to 40 hours per week, as long as they are full-time students.

14. Italy

Italy is a country I’m quite fond of, so let me share some insights. In Italy, the tuition fees are quite low, ranging from about 350 to 500 euros per semester, depending on the university. Each region offers scholarships. Once you’re admitted, you can apply for these regional scholarships at your university. If you are awarded one, it includes a daily meal for the duration of your studies. If you can prove your family is in financial need, for instance, by showing no one in your family earns more than 500 euros, you can have your tuition fees completely waived and possibly receive a scholarship.

For international students, when applying for a visa, you must show you have enough funds to cover at least 6 months. This amount is roughly 900 euros per month, depending on the city. You’ll also need to provide a letter from your employer and a letter of enrollment from your university. If you come from a lower-income family, you can have your tuition waived by using a Declaration of Value. However, you must also prove you have sufficient funds to support yourself while living in Italy.

15. Estonia

Estonian-taught degree programmes are free for full-time students. However, English-taught courses are paid. Some of the areas of study in Estonia include International Relations, Anthropology, and Architecture. Regarding the cost of living for foreign students in Estonia, it is cheap, and typically 600-800 EUR per month. International students in Estonia can work while they’re studying full-time without a separate work permit, as long as their job doesn’t get in the way of their studies. They need to pass all their courses and complete their studies on time. Students from outside the EU have the option to stay in Estonia for an extra 9 months after they graduate to find a job. If they find a job during this period, they can use this time to apply for a temporary residence permit for work.

16. Luxembourg

Luxembourg is a rich country and the dream study destination for every student. Here, the University of Luxembourg, which is the only public university in Luxembourg, does not ask for tuition fees from either local or international students. The only cost students need to cover is an enrollment fee that ranges from €200 to €400, payable at the start of each semester. If you study at the University of Luxembourg, you can work during your studies, irrespective of your country. During the school holidays, you are allowed up to 40 hours per week and/or 15 hours per week throughout the year.

Conclusion

So, we have been able to carefully look at 16 countries where tuition is free for international students. Some of them are restricted to EU and EEA while others are just open to all students from any nationality. Pick the country that offers a course that aligns with your interest and apply for admission there. You do not need to save up millions to move and study abroad.

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