Study abroad for free
Can you can study abroad for free - without paying tuition? It is possible in some countries, at least for EU-students, but you will still need money for living costs. Read more here.
We will look at:
- Countries that offer free university education
- University exchange programs
- Full scholarships and financial aid
- Free language courses
- Living costs abroad
- How do I study abroad for free? Can you help me?
Please note that the information in this article is based on the best of our knowledge as of March 2017, but things change and there are always exceptions so make sure to check what is valid for the school that you are applying to.
Countries that offer free university education
Going to university is expensive. At least that is the norm in the US and many other English speaking countries, but it does not have to be that way. There are still many countries where university education is free or almost free, even for international students. This is especially true in Europe where EU-students don’t need visas to study in another EU-country and they can study under the same conditions as local students. EU-students can study free of charge at public universities in countries such as Austria, Denmark, Finland, Greece, Norway, Sweden, and Scotland (except for UK-citizens that are not Scottish…). More countries offer free tuition if you study in the local language. Norway also offer free education for non EU-students, however, almost all bachelor programs in Norway are taught in Norwegian only. Sweden used to be free for everyone, now they charge tuition fees but offer scholarships for international students who wants to study in Sweden. At postgraduate level it is easier to find fully funded programs in English.
Germany is a great country to study in for international students. They have good universities that often offer some programs in English. Best of all they treat all students the same, whether you are from the EU or not. Many German universities only charge 100-250 Euro per semester in administrative fees and no tuition! However, on undergraduate level most programs are taught in German. Here is a good link where you can see all programs taught in English in Germany and what they cost. Other countries with low tuition fees for all international students in public universities are France and Italy. Outside the EU free or low-cost University education can be found in countries such as Argentina and Taiwan. India and Malaysia are not free but the living costs are low and tuition is lower than in the English speaking world.
Please note that private schools and universities often charge tuition fees even in countries that normally offer free education.
University exchange programs
If you are enrolled in a university program in your home country you can apply for an exchange semester at one of your university’s partner schools in other countries. There are many different exchange programs but the most common is that your university and its partner schools exchange students with each other without any money changing hands. This means that you as an exchange student can do your semester abroad at the same conditions as you would at your home university. So if your home university doesn't charge you any tuition fee you probably don’t have to pay any tuition for your exchange semester abroad either. And your studies abroad will count towards the degree that you are taking at your home university.
Full scholarships and financial aid
Another way to study abroad for free is to get a full scholarship. If you are willing to work a bit for the university it can be possible to get full scholarships at Master or Ph.D. level. Students with special skills or needs might also get a full scholarship for studies at undergraduate level but it is hard. Read more in our guide about Scholarships for studying abroad.
It is more common to get a partial scholarship that reduces your tuition fee. Here are some scholarships we can offer you:
- BHMS, Business and Hotel Management School, Luzern: a scholarship of 1000 CHF on their programs in Hospitality and Business
- Seattle Central College: offers merit based scholarships of $750 – $1,500 per semester.
- University of California Santa Barbara: offers a 10% scholarship on Study Abroad semesters to students from DreamStudies.
- DreamStudies' Study Abroad Scholarship: we offer one scholarship of 1000-1500 Euro for studies abroad at a school of your choice. The deadline application deadline is December 15.
- Find more scholarships and special offers from our partner schools.
Free language courses abroad
Do you want to study a language for free in the country where it is spoken? Many countries offer free language courses for immigrants. If you are a study abroad student you might be able to get language classes free of charge at the university that you are studying at.
However the quickest way to learn a foreign language is usually to study it at a private language school in the country where it is spoken. Then you usually have 15-30 lessons per week just focusing on language learning with teachers that are native speakers. Classes are small and the sole purpose of the school is to help you improve your language skills. Unfortunately, private schools must charge a tuition fee to survive since they are not publically funded. However once in a while DreamStudies can offer you free language courses through competitions. Right now you can win a free Spanish language course at the University of Alicante. The deadline for the competition is January 6, 2020.
Living costs abroad
So you managed to secure a course with free tuition. Does that mean that you won’t have any expenses for studying abroad? No, not unless you have got a full scholarship that also includes accommodation and other costs and this is very rare.
When you study abroad you need to pay for the trip to your place of study, a study abroad insurance, accommodation, food, school materials and other living costs. If you currently live at home you will definitely spend more money than you do now. However, if you already live on your own it might not need to cost you much more to study abroad. If you live in an expensive country like Switzerland or Scandinavia living costs abroad will most likely be lower than at home. However, student housing can be expensive and you usually spend a lot of money the first month. So make sure to save up enough money for your living costs and check the opportunity to get student grants or loans to cover your costs.
Working is another possibility to earn extra money. However not all countries allow students to work on a student visa and there is no guarantee that you will get a good job, especially if you don’t speak the native language.
To get an EU-student visa you will need to show that you have enough money to cover your living costs. For example, to get a student visa to Germany you currently need to put 8640 Euro into a locked account in Germany. From that account you can then withdraw up to 720 Euro per month while you study there. You will also need some additional money for the trip to Germany, insurance etc. So in total you will need at least 10000 Euro per year to study in Germany, even if tuition fees are almost free. Here you can find the living costs to study in EU-countries.
How do I study abroad for free? Can you help me?
Many students contact us and ask if we can help them to study for free. We can help you with free advice like this article but we cannot do the work for you. In this article, we have written about different ways and methods to study abroad for free. Now it is your turn to do the work. If you want to study for free you have to apply to schools where you can study without tuition fee and/or apply for scholarships as we have outlined in our scholarship guide. Nothing is given to us for free without some effort on your part. We cannot pay for your tuition or help you to get a full scholarship.
We have partners that can help you to apply to most universities in the EU. Fill out an information request to get help. However, if you apply to a free program they will need to charge you for their help.