RP Insights: Attending University Outside the USA

RoundPier Team
September 30th, 2017

Your options and our recommendations

US universities have long been considered the best in the world but it is becoming prohibitively expensive. According to the College Board, the cost of tuition and fees in the US for the 2016–2017 school year ranged between $10,000-55,000 with top universities consistently charging students over $50,000 per year and $10,000-15,000 per year for room & board. So what are the options?

We believe a college education is important on many grounds. We suggest looking into universities in Europe. Each country offers not just great universities, but some at much more dramatically reduced tuitions than in the US. On top of that, one gets to study and live in Europe during college, how cool is that? Below is a quick synopsis of each major European country and their university costs.

For Americans, England is the obvious first choice. We speak the same language and it is home to the oldest and most familiar non-US colleges – Oxford and Cambridge. If you’re looking to save money, the costs are lower than in the US but are expensive compared to other countries in Europe. One advantage universities in the United Kingdom have is that the undergraduate programs typically take 3 years to complete.

In Netherlands, most of public and private universities offer a number of English-taught programs (Amsterdam, Maastricht and Leiden to name a few). The cost is approximately $2,500 per year for students from European Union countries and $10,000 for all other international students.

In a number of other European countries attending public universities is free, even if you are not a citizen of a EU country. While most of the universities in Continental Europe have instruction in the local language, a number of them now also offer certain undergraduate programs in English as well.

In Germany for example, which has a number of excellent engineering programs (TU Munich, Heidelberg and RWTH Aachen), all of the public universities are free (administration fees between $300-500) with average cost of living of around $600-700 per month. Switzerland, while has higher cost of living, has two of best universities in the world (ETH Zurich, Albert Einstein’s alma mater, and Ecole Polytechnique in Lausanne) with tuition just under $1,500 per year. France and Spain are two other options where cost of attending public university is close to zero even for international students but you do need to speak the language as instruction is mainly conducted in local language. In northern Europe, Iceland and Finland only charge minimal administration fees and have a number of English-taught programs.

RP’s Insights

You should consider evaluating colleges abroad if saving thousands of dollars a year, exploring new cultures, and working abroad after completion of university are all high on your list of college experiences. You will have an advantage if you speak a local language or have some relation to the country where you plan to study. But even if you don’t, you could always start learning a language a couple of years before you apply and do a family trip to visit some of these places which offer great education and have great history and culture.

If you have any questions about studying abroad please contact our team at info@roundpier.com.