Darwin Hadley: Americans Moving to Europe for Free Tuition

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I am pleased to host another student guest post, this time by Darwin Hadley. This is the 3d student guest post this semester. You can see all the student guest posts from my “Monetary and Financial Theory” class at this link.

The costs of attending college in the United States are growing every year. The price of books, dorms, and tuition is very expensive. The College Board reports that a “moderate” college budget for an in-state public college for the 2015–2016 academic year averaged $24,061 and for a private school was $47,831. Many Universities in Europe offer low or even free tuition for citizens and international students. As student debt and the costs to attend college grow in the future more Americans will consider the possibility to attend school in Europe.

Americans are traveling to Germany, England, Finland, Sweden, and many other countries to attend college for free. In 2015, more than 4500 US students are fully enrolled at Germany universities, an increase of 20% over three years. The graph shows the growing trend of Americans enrolling in German universities. The main reason for the increase is the cheap cost of attending college and the quality education. Hunter Bliss, a South Carolina native, is attending Technical University of Munich (TUM), one of the most highly regarded universities in Europe. The tuition costs of Hunter attending school at TUM is $120 compared to South Carolina which costs $10,000. The cost savings just in tuition are enormous. Also, many of the programs at the German universities are taught in English. At Technical University in Munich 20% of students are non-German. The University president is keen to have every single graduate program offered in English, and only in English, by the year 2020. 

European colleges also have lower non-tuition expenses. Hunter, the South Carolina student, pays $20 a month as a semester fee which includes a transportation card around the city of Munich. Hunter pays only $280 in rent and $80 in health insurance. $280 for rent is cheap compared to many places in Ann Arbor where rent is around $800 or more a month. Another student, Katherine, a graduate of Pennsylvania State University, spent less than €500 ($570) a month in Cottbus, which included housing, transportation and healthcare. The chart shows the monthly costs for three students attending Universities in Germany.  

The costs savings for attending college outside the US are large, but the student may have a hard time coming back to America. Many students that attend college in Europe stay in Europe to work. Students may have a hard time finding a job in the US because of the small number of alumni connections. Also, many students don’t come back to the United States because they love living in Europe. 2 students interviewed by CNN stated they have no plans on returning to the United States in the future. Hannah Remo said, “I 100% have my heart set on staying in Europe. I disagree with the way a lot of things are run at home. It blows my mind that college is so expensive in the U.S., it makes me think that I don’t want to raise a family there.”

Students leaving the United States to pursue a degree abroad is gaining momentum. The Institute of International Education reported that in the school years 2010/2011 and 2011/2012 the percentage of US students pursuing degrees abroad increased 5.2%. Also, Ulrich Grothus, deputy secretary general of the German Academic Exchange Service, said that in Germany between 2003 and 2013 the number of Americans pursuing a degree increased by 56 percent. Americans pursuing a college education abroad is growing and will continue to grow as tuition increases.

The cost of education in the US is very expensive. Many individuals are attending universities in other countries because of cost savings and traveling opportunities. “The cost is what makes people think about going to college abroad, but then they start to see the other benefits like learning a new language, travel opportunities, and being prepared to work in a global economy”, said Jennifer Viemont, the founder of an advising service called Beyond The States. If the government does not come up with a solution to fix the high cost of education and high student debt more students will decide to leave the country for college.