Top 15 Countries With Totally or Almost Free Tuition for International Students
Top 15 Countries With Totally or Almost Free Tuition for International Students. Photo KnowInsiders

The inclusivity of education is determined by many factors, one of which is tuition. Besides financial burden on accommodation and food, international students, especially those with no scholarships, find tuition a big challenge to balance. We have compiled a list of the top 20 countries with free tuition for international students to help you study without having to worry about financial burden. It’s not surprising that most of the countries in the list are in Europe.

Top 15 Countries With Totally or Almost Free Tuition for International Students

1. Germany

Free for who: Everyone (except for universities in the state of Baden-Württemberg)

Germany is one of the most popular destinations for international students to study in Europe. Not only is Germany famous for an education with advanced training quality and for owning many QS-ranked universities, Germany is also chosen by international students for its quality training programs taught in English at both bachelor's and master's/doctoral levels completely free of charge at public universities.

Photo Alpadia
Photo Alpadia

There is no tuition fee for bachelor's and master's degree programs in Germany for students, including international students from any country, unless you are studying an master's program which is different from majors at the bachelor's level. One of the exceptions worth considering are universities in the state of Baden-Württemberg. Currently, the state of Baden-Württemberg is charging a tuition fee (for Bachelor, Master, College and state examination degree programs) of 1,500 EUR per semester for non-EU resident students. On the other hand, unlike Undergraduate programmes, most Master's programs in Germany have tuition fees, but not as high as in other countries.

For PhD programmes, tuition fees are fully waived at all German universities for at least 6 semesters. It is also important to note that, no matter what level you decide to attend, you may need to pay an administration fee that includes student services management fee and registration fee (from 100 to 350 EUR/term).

In addition, if you do not complete your study program on time in Bremen, Lower Saxony, Saarland, Saxony, Saxony-Anhalt or Thuringia, you may still have to pay tuition fees for your course.

2. Sweden

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Photo hotcourses

Free for who: EU, EEA and Switzerland

International students from any country participating in PhD programs in Sweden are completely exempt from tuition fees.

If you are a student from a non-EU or EEA country and wish to participate in a bachelor's or master's degree program, you will have to pay tuition fees ranging from 7,500-25,000 EUR/ year and can be up to 31,000 EUR/year for some specific programs. However, the scholarship programs in Sweden are also extremely diverse: the Visby scholarship program (for students studying a course in sustainability, innovation or community responsibility), or merit-based scholarships offered by universities, independent foundations, organizationns.

READ MORE: Is It True Or Myth That Higher Education Is Important In The 21st Century?

3. Finland

Free for who: EU, EEA and Switzerland

Universities in Finland are divided into two groups: regular universities and Universities of Applied Science.

Good news for those who already know Finnish or Swedish: courses taught in these two languages ​​are still free for international students from any country. Students participating in a PhD program in Finland will often receive a full tuition waiver. If you are an international student from outside EU and wish to enroll in English-taught courses, you will still have to pay the tuition fee for your course.

Tuition fees at Finnish public universities usually range from 6,000 to 18,000 EUR/year, of which the University of Helsinki has the highest tuition fee, from 13,000 to 18,000 EUR/year.

In return, universities in Finland have desirable scholarships for international students. Each university will have its own scholarship programs that are evaluated based on the ability and academic achievement of students. If you fit the criteria for a scholarship, the school may contact you to discuss the details of the scholarship they intend to offer you.

4. Norway

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Photo vneconomy

Free for who: Everyone (EU, EEA and the rest of the world)

Along with Finland and Germany, Norway is one of few European countries to offer complete tuition waivers for international students. According to, Norwegian universities and colleges are told not to collect tuition fees from domestic and international students. This applies to all levels, including Research, Undergraduate, Master's and PhD programmes.

Studying abroad at public universities in Norway, you only need to pay a fee of about 30-60 EUR/term to cover the student union fees, including the cost of counseling and health services, or expenses for sports and cultural activities at school.

For private universities in Norway, tuition fees for both international and local students are assessed to be lower than in other countries in the region, ranging from 7,000 to 19,000 EUR/ five. Don't forget to note that most of the programs are taught in Norwegian. At the master's level and higher, you will have a wider choice of study programs in English. In addition, you will need an average of 1,200 EUR/month to cover living expenses in Norway.

The cost of living in Norway, including food, accommodation, transportation, etc., usually range from 700-900 EUR/month, depending on where you live and your daily living habits. Some universities in Norway offer scholarships that cover living expenses.

5. Switzerland

Application and tuition fees apply for those who are not citizens of an EU/EEA/Nordic country or Switzerland studying at the bachelor’s or master’s level. However, the Swedish Institute and a significant number of Universities offer full and partial scholarships in the form of tuition waivers for international students.

PhD positions in Sweden are usually offered as paid positions by universities or external funding bodies. This means that if you are offered a position as a PhD candidate, you will not pay fees and will receive a monthly salary.

Public Swiss universities receive significant funding from the government. That’s why tuition fees are more affordable when compared to fees charged by universities from the UK or the US. International students who come to Switzerland on an exchange programme don’t pay any tuition fee.

Average tuition fees at Swiss public universities:

• Bachelor's and Master's programmes: 400 – 3,700 EUR/year

• PhD degrees: 100 – 900 EUR/year

• Swiss Private universities usually have higher tuition fees that can reach 43,000 EUR per year. Some universities offer a discount if students pay the full amount when they begin the study programme. For some degrees, tuition is calculated based on the total number of courses or credits.

These are some of the most affordable higher education institutions in Switzerland:

• University of Geneva – average tuition fees: 900 EUR/year

• University of Bern – average tuition fees: 1,700 EUR/year

• University of Applied Sciences and Arts Northwestern Switzerland FHNW – average tuition fees: 1,260 EUR/year

• University of Lausanne – average tuition fees: 1,040 EUR/year

6. Austria

If you are still wondering about financial problems when studying in Europe, you should consider Austria - a European country chosen by international students for its friendliness and hospitality.

Students from non-EU countries pay relatively low tuition fees, averaging around 726.72 EUR/semester, plus 20.20 EUR/semester for the student union membership fee “ÖH-Beitrag” and student accident insurance premiums. This is also the reason why Austria has attracted international students in recent years. It is also important to note that private universities will often force you to pay a higher tuition fee than public universities, ranging from 3,000 EUR to 23,000 EUR/year, even over 35,000 EUR/year for specific programs.

Students studying abroad in Austria have to pay a relatively low cost of living, depending on the area you choose to study and live in. For example, in Vienna and Salzburg, you should prepare an amount of 800-1,300 EUR/month for living expenses. In other cities like Linz and Graz, the cost of living can range from 800-1,000 EUR/month.

7. Spain

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Photo hotcourses

Spain is famous for its relatively low cost of living, mild climate and long-standing, interesting culture that has long been a popular destination for both tourists and international students. In particular, the tuition fees at public Spanish universities are considered quite low compared to public universities in other European countries.

At most public universities in Spain, tuition fees will range from 750 - 2,500 EUR/year at public institutions for both bachelor's and master's degrees. At private universities, the tuition fees will be determined by each institution - usually not exceeding 20,000 EUR/year, with the exception of Business Schools programs where tuition fees can be up to 30,000 EUR/year. In particular, tuition is charged per credit and can be higher at the graduate level.

You can expect to pay around 50 EUR/month or more when using some study materials and taking Spanish classes.

8. Denmark

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Photo vneconomy

Free for who: EU, EEA and Switzerland

In Denmark, higher education is free for students who are citizens of EU/EEA countries. Students from Switzerland are also eligible to study for free.

Education is also free for students participating in an exchange program or students with a permanent resident permit. For this reason, Denmark makes it to the list of countries with the best free education for international students to study.

9. France

Typical tuition fees: €243 per year

Admin fees: None

Terms: Tuition fees at public universities in France are capped at €243 per year by the French Government, making them some of the most affordable in Europe. These low fees are only applicable to EU/EEA nationals. Non-EU/EEA nationals are charged €3,770 per year.

France may not be as well known as Germany in affordable education. But international students may be surprised to learn that they can also study abroad in France for free (or at a very low cost) regardless of their nationality.

While tuition fees are technically non-existent at French public universities. In Germany it costs you 180€ ($250) per year to cover your travel expenses.

The amount may be more with more specialized programs such as medicine and engineering, but not by much. The same in France. The majority of programs that offer free study abroad opportunities in France are taught in the native language. However, more and more courses are available in English, especially at the undergraduate level. Alternatively, you can also enroll in a preparatory school to perfect your French skills before starting university. But you will have to pay for this course. Although it is possible to study abroad in France for free, the cost of living here is quite high, especially in Paris. The cost of living is estimated about 9600€ ($10.430) per year.

10. Czech Republic

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Photo vneconomy

Free for who: Everyone (if you study in Czech!)

Admin fees: You may be charge tuition fees if you take longer than expected to complete your degree.

Terms: If you fancy learning Czech, you could take advantage of the Czech Republic’s generous approach to tuition fees: Czech-taught Masters are free to all. Masters in other languages – English, French, German and Russian are fairly common – usually (but not always) incur some fees.

11. Belgium

Belgium is known to offer top class education with a minimal fee which is very affordable. Belgium is known for its rich culture and advanced infrastructure which give the students a chance to gain practical as well as theoretical education. It also gives students a chance to study its rich culture. University of Brussel and University of Ghent are the top universities there.

International students have to pay a minimal fee to study in Belgium, which doesn’t pinch at all because you get to experience a totally different culture.

12. Greece

The land of the Gods, Greece offers low cost higher education to international students along with minimal cost of living as well. Add to that some beautiful historical sights to behold. Sign me up!

EU/EEA students can study for free at public higher education institutions in Greece, with the exception of some master’s programs.

As per international students coming from countries outside the European Union, they can study in the country at a low cost. Greece is also one of the most affordable countries in the EU to live in.

13. Slovenia

Slovenia is a European country. The country is notable for offering free education to nationals of European Union (EU). The free education policy extends particularly to students living in Bosnia, Republics of Macedonia, Serbia, Kosovo, Montenegro and Herzegovina.

There is however requirement for the payment of admission and registration fees. Free tuition policy in Slovenia does not apply international students.

14. Brazil

Photo Alpadia
Photo Alpadia

International students wishing to study abroad for free can also consider the largest country in Latin America and the fifth largest country in the world, Brazil.

In Brazil, domestic and international students can study for free at most public universities and will have to pay only the registration fees. Whereas, at private higher education institutions, the amount that students have to pay depends on the university and the degree program that a student chooses.

Prior to applying to any university in Brazil, students should undergo an exam through which they demonstrate that they know the Portuguese language. Brazil is also considered an affordable country for students because the costs for food and transport are cheaper compared to countries around.

These are just two of the multitude of scholarships that are available to international students who are looking to study in Brazil. One of the more popular scholarships is the Brazilian Government Exchange Program. It gives students with academic potential from developing countries and conflict zones a free ride. Applications open each August. The government doesn’t maintain a regular website, instead publishing a whole new one each year. You’ll need to search for the program in about July to begin preparing your application.

15. Argentina

Argentina has public and private universities and both accept international students. There are 39 public universities that are tuition-free. Some have started to charge minimal fees to international students, but others remain free for both Argentineans and foreign citizens. Private universities are paid but can be very affordable when compared to those in the U.S. and Europe. Also, living costs in this country are low. For example, students can rent apartments for around $400 depending on the area.

You can study in Argentina for free in the public universities. On the other hand, attending a private university in Argentina may cost between $5,000 and $15,500 per year to earn a university degree, the fees of the bachelor and some postgraduate programs are free.

An aspect that you must consider is language. Although some universities offer a few courses in English, the majority only offer bachelor’s and postgraduate programs in Spanish. This means that you will be required to submit proof of your Spanish proficiency or complete the language courses offered by the university (if available). So, if you want to study in these cheap universities in Argentina, it will be wise to learn at least some Spanish.

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