Yes… there is a way to study abroad for free. Students often think a semester or year abroad is really expensive, and in many ways, it is, especially for Americans who typically enroll in programs associated with their home university or a “middle-man” agency that will charge you a lot of money.
But if you’re keen to study abroad for a low cost, or no cost at all, and don’t mind navigating extra paperwork and applications, you could find yourself studying abroad for free, with the option to do a year or even your whole degree overseas too.
So if you want to study abroad but can’t deal with the major price tag, consider one of these countries where you can study abroad for free.
Study abroad for free by enrolling direct
I should first mentioned that all of the countries in this article are only free to attend if you enroll directly with the university, or that country’s equivalent. If you’re American, the study abroad programs that your school advertises or that you see online will still charge you…and a LOT, even if you study in one of the below countries. There are major advantages for using those programs over enrolling directly, like ease of the application process, help with visas, the fact that you’re dealing with American admin people and financial terms, and much more, mostly in terms of ease and convenience.
If you’re up for a longer-term study abroad option, and you’re willing to do all of your application paperwork yourself, do tons of research on your own in terms of which classes to take, figure out if your classes abroad will count for your home university degree, plus deal with the red tape that usually comes with dealing with a foreign country, then you can definitely bag yourself a free study abroad experience.
Germany is known for its excellent university system, and all international students can study here for free after paying a yearly administration fee, which is usually less than €350. The country has lots of cool cities that you could study abroad in, all while paying nothing for your education and with low living costs if you pass on studying in the major cities like Munich. In my opinion, Germany is the absolute best option if you want to study abroad for free.
This video is from a German and an American exchange student in Germany, with tips for studying abroad there:
If you can speak Portuguese, you could get yourself a free education at one of Brazil’s esteemed public universities for just a very small registration fee when your course begins. You’ll need to take a test, just as other potential Brazilian students will do, and to demonstrate your Portuguese skill level, you’ll need to get a CELPE-Bras certificate.
See a typical day of an American study abroad student in Brazil:
Read next: How to find study abroad scholarships
Speak Norwegian? Fab. You can study abroad for free in Norway for just a registration fee of about $50. Find out more about how to study abroad in Norway.
In this video a foreign exchange student talks about what you need to study in Norway:
EU/EEA students study abroad for free in Greece, and everyone else has a yearly tuition fee of €1500. Pair that with the fact that living costs in Greece are some of the lowest in Europe, you’ve got yourself an incredibly cheap study abroad experience. You will, however, need to learn Greek if you don’t know it already. Learn more about studying for free in Greece.
Public university is free for all students in Iceland, no matter where they come from (5% of higher ed students are international.) The only caveat (a big one) is that most classes are taught in Icelandic. If you can speak it, or if you can find some great classes in English, then you’ve got yourself a study abroad semester (or years) in one of the most popular countries to visit right now.
The University of Luxembourg is incredibly international, and beyond an €800 fee in the first year and a €400 yearly fee after that, it’s completely free to study here, for all students. Find out more about studying abroad for free at the University of Luxembourg.
Here are 10 things you’ll be able to do in the capital city if you end up studying abroad here:
France, one of the most popular places to study abroad, doesn’t charge tuition at its public universities, no matter what nationality you are. Just expect to pay a small admin fee and know some French. It’s important to note that France’s most esteemed universities, called grandes écoles, do charge tuition, so stick with a public university in France if you want to study abroad for free.
Damon and Jo tell you the 10 things you need to know if you decide you want to study abroad in Paris:
If you’ve got a EU/EEA or Swiss passport, you can study in Sweden for free. Other nationals can expect to pay a few thousands dollars a year, however, PhDs are usually free, and you even get paid! Another perk is that all students have the option to work when studying in Sweden.
Find out how you can get your Masters degree for free or very cheap in Sweden.
Here are five tips for exchange students in Sweden:
Anyone with a EU/EEA passport can study for up to eight semesters for free in Austria, plus a couple of small admin costs. If you’re not an EU national, university is still really cheap, around €725 per semester at the country’s public universities. That’s STUPID cheap for either a regular semester or a study abroad one, if you compare it to American university fees. Find out more about studying abroad for free in Austria.
If you can speak Czech fluently, no matter where you’re from, you can study abroad in the Czech Republic for free. But don’t worry, even if you can’t, you can just enroll in a language class for about $900 per semester. It’s a small price to pay for free education in one of Europe’s coolest and most affordable countries.
You don’t have to have tons of cash or put yourself into major debt to study abroad. With extra effort and patience, plus flexibility on location, you can study abroad for free or at a very low cost.
The guys at Honest Guide give some great info about studying abroad in Czech Republic:
For more tips for a cheap study abroad semester, read next:
How Much Money Should You Save Up For Your Study Abroad Semester?
How to Find Cheap Flights For Your Study Abroad Semester
How to Study Abroad, in 10 Steps