Studying in Europe - Very Affordable Compared to the U.S. Costs and funding


In its yearly review, the Higher Education Strategy Associates (HESA) compares tuition fees and financial aids in 37 different countries. Whereas the tuition fees increased and the financial aid decreased in many countries at the same time, in some European countries studying became even more affordable than in the years before.

Here an overview:

Big increase in tuition fees in the U.S.

For studying in the U.S. , out-of-state tuition fees at public universities in 2011 were on average nearly 6% higher than the year before. In California, one of the most popular study destinations and home of famous Stanford University and the University of California, Berkeley the tuition fee climbed up 21% on average. At the same time, budget cuts affect many national and federal student aids and other financial supports.

U.K. raises tuition fee cap to £9,000

After several increases in the recent year, the tuition fee cap for universities in the United Kingdom also raised this year. Many universities are planning to adapt their standard tuition fee to this maximum. However, the financial assistance for full-time students from U.K. and the European Union increases accordingly. The tuition fees for pursuing the first Bachelors degree are fully covered by a subsidised, income-contingent loan that has only to be paid back after finishing the studies and receiving sufficient income. Therefore, no tuition fees have to be paid during the studies for the UK and other EU citizens.

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Still moderate tuition fees in France, The Netherlands and Italy

Officially, universities in France just charge an administration fee of 174 Euros. However, many universities started adding supplementary fees on top, depending on the offered programme and varying from few to several thousand Euros. Compared to other countries, the tuition fees remain still modest, though. Besides, the government offers various scholarships as well as subsidies.


In The Netherlands, tuition fees increased just slightly to 1771 Euros a year. For most students, a subsidised loan is available in order to cover these expenses. Besides, a student grant is available to many students also other EU citizens, if they meet certain criteria. Students with a low income can also benefit from other government supports such as a rental allowance.

Slightly higher, but still moderate are the tuition fees in Italy. The allowed maximum for all public universities remained at 2,100 Euros. Besides, various scholarships are offered also to foreign students.

Countries without tuition fees

In several countries, especially in Europe, higher education is still for free. For example in the following countries:

In Germany, tuition fees were abolished in nearly all federal states in the last years and even if tuition fees are charged (e.g. in the case of exceeding the proposed study time), it is limited to a maximum 1000 a year. Besides the existing study support, a new scholarship program has been introduced at a federal level, supporting excellent German as well as foreign students with 300 per month.

Also in Finland, studying is still for free in most cases. However, since 2010 universities can charge tuition fees for non-EU/EEC students for selected Masters programmes but they are also required to offer a scholarship scheme for those programmes.

In Poland, studying at public universities remains free as well. Besides, financial assistance is given to needy students as well as students showing excellent results in academics or sports. Besides that, the average living costs in Poland are still considerably cheaper than in many other (European) countries.

For residents of the European Union, studying remains also free in Sweden. For students coming from outside of the EU countries, fees increased significantly, though. Depending on the university and the programme, up to 200,000 SEK (~22,700 Euros) have to be paid.

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