Is It Cheaper for Americans to Go to College Overseas?
But wait. There are hidden costs for Americans eager to cash in on a cheap education overseas. Four years of college means four years of winter and summer breaks, and airfare to and from home adds up quickly. In most countries foreign students must obtain a special visa (equivalent to nearly $475 for study in the United Kingdom, for example) and prove they have the financial resources to pay for school and living expenses. Scholarships rarely are available to students from outside the home country, and American financial aid, including Pell Grants, often doesn't apply. (There are exceptions, and federal aid may be available for study at some international schools.) The amount of time foreign students can work usually is limited. And language requirements generally are rigorous.
Still, attending college in the following 10 places is popular with American students. Some are cheaper than studying in the U.S., and some are not. Of course, choosing a school shouldn't hinge entirely on cost. Course offerings and experiences accrued from living and studying abroad are at least as important, as is confidence that the degree will be well received by future employers.
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American students must obtain a student visa/study permit (about $110) and pay application fees, which vary by school. Health insurance is mandatory. Some provinces cover international students under the local health plan but others require private insurance. Students can qualify for the same loans in Canada as they would in the U.S. (except for Pell Grants) by filling out the FAFSA application. Students may work up to 20 hours a week during the semester and full-time during summers.
The six public universities in Costa Rica eagerly welcome international students with an easy route to admission. The schools are heavily subsidized and costs are low. Universidad de Costa Rica charges by the credit hour; a full-time course load of 17 credits at about $80 a credit hour comes to less than $1,400 for a semester. Living expenses typically range between $500 and $1,500 a month. For foreign students, the Universidad de Costa Rica suggests a homestay with a local family, which receives compensation from the school for hosting. Most courses are taught in Spanish, and preparatory language classes are available. A visa is required.
College costs are higher in Japan than elsewhere in Asia but are cheap compared with the U.S. Annual tuition ranges between $5,000 and $15,000, depending on the degree, at private universities. Students also pay admission fees of about $2,500 plus $250 in examination fees, and the cost of living averages about $800 a month. Japanese universities admit students based on their grades and passage of an entrance exam and a language proficiency test; an interview often is required. Students must obtain health insurance, which costs about $180 a year. Scholarships are available, including some offered by Japanese-American organizations. Foreign students are allowed to work part-time, and many do.
Admission criteria include International Baccalaureate and Advanced Placement courses. American students need a visa and a bank statement proving they can cover a year of tuition and living expenses, totaling about $20,000. Students must apply for a residence document and obtain an identity card and health insurance. Financial assistance is not available to American students.