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    How Other Countries Make Tuition Affordable: What Could The US Learn?

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    Colleges introduce students to new perspectives, challenge them with thought-provoking ideas, and open the door to high-paying jobs. It’s hard to deny the social and personal benefits of higher education. 

    Still, according to a study conducted by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the US is characterized by the highest average tuition costs. Colleges in the US cost $8,202 per year on average at public institutions for those students pursuing a bachelor’s degree. More astounding, the US has a student loan debt load that currently tops $1.6 trillion in aggregate.

    Read on to learn more about the main reasons behind the cost differential and how the American education system can do better.


    Canada has over 1 million full-time and 290,000 part-time students across its universities. Colleges in Canada are more affordable at about $4,939 per year. The country has a universal income-based repayment system for college students. 

    Students don’t have to pay their debt unless they start earning at least CA$25,000 per year. If a student qualifies to pause payments, the government will cover interest for up to six-month periods after graduation. If the student can stay on the repayment assistance plan, they’ll receive continued support from the government and be eligible for a loan discharge after 15 years. 


    In Ireland, undergraduate students receive Government assistance which involves paying their living costs and education fees. Despite being a small island, the Government of Ireland offers EUR 870 million every year for higher education. 

    The government also offers scholarships to encourage international students. There are no fees for public universities for local students and also for the residents of the EU to pursue undergraduate programs. This is known as the "Free Fees Initiative”, given students will only have to pay the registration fees during their entry to the respective degree programs.


    In Europe, Denmark is known as the best destination for International study because of its low tuition costs, high-quality English Master’s degrees, and for the innovative teaching methods. Students choose Denmark because of its great standard of living and the availability of a variety of study subjects at Danish universities. 

    Higher education is free in Denmark for all Bachelor’s and Master’s students coming from the EU/EEA area and Switzerland. For non-EU/EEA citizens, the tuition fees range between EUR 6,000 – 16,000 per academic year. The government also provides a monthly stipend of about $900 for living costs for students who don’t live with their parents. 


    According to the OECD report, Turkey generally doesn’t charge tuition fees. Studying in Turkey is much more affordable in comparison to studying in countries like Australia, the US, and the UK. For foreign students, the tuition fees are affordable with access to quality education. 

    The tuition fees mainly depend on whether the university is a private or public institution. It also depends on the course that has been selected by the student. For state-funded universities, the semester fees can be as little as $300, while at private universities the tuition fees can reach thousands of dollars.


    For many potential applicants, the tuition fees in Taiwan will be an important issue, as many colleges and universities set their own admission rules for foreign students. The cost of tuition per semester at public universities is around $840 to $1,000. In the private sector, it ranges between $1,540 to $1,800. 

    The Ministry of Education in Taiwan and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs provide scholarships to study in Taiwan. This also depends on the native country’s diplomatic relationship with Taiwan. 

    New Zealand

    In New Zealand, universities set their fees depending on the level of study, subject, and the status of the student. International undergraduate students are expected to pay around NZ$22,000 to NZ$32,000 per year while fees for domestic students are subsidized by the government. 

    The government of New Zealand has recently introduced a free fees initiative, which allows first-year domestic students to study for free for one year. The government contributes up to a maximum of NZ$12,000 per student through this initiative.

    For international master’s students, the annual fees range between NZ$26,000 and NZ$37,000. Domestic students can expect to pay in the range of NZ$5,000-10,000 per year.

    Bottom Line

    For both the public and private institutions, the US is far and beyond the most expensive country when seeking a degree. Given this widespread disparity, the US can absolutely learn and implement the tuition policies that have been enacted in other countries to help narrow the gap while making the pursuit of higher education more affordable for a larger swathe of the population.