How Being an International Student Can Be Cheaper Than Studying at Home

If you’re a USA citizen, then you understand that it is literally impossible to afford a higher education in the United States. You either need over $100,000s in loans or work your way through school for over 10 years. The average USA university student takes about 4-5 years to graduate with a bachelor’s degree, and that’s when going to university full-time. It’s not the 1970s and we cannot pay off our tuition over the summer; we pay off our tuition until we’re into our late 50s. And if you’re not a computer engineer or not in the medical field, good luck getting a job to pay off college loans for the rest of your life. We are beyond being discouraged to get an education, we have accepted that is is impossible for our generation to go to university without a serious amount of financial aid from both the school and family. It breaks my hearts to see my friends, who want to go to university, having to suck up their dreams of higher education and brush it off.

The only way I got my bachelor’s degree was because my grandparents paid for the first two years, and the second two years were helped by my parents, financial aid, and working on campus in exchange for free housing. Not everyone has these options, and I beyond blessed to have a family help me pay for something that is literally impossible for my peers. However! I can tell you about my experience in finding out about post-graduate schools internationally, which is hopefully just as equally helpful for you. I’m sure all of my advice can convert into looking for a good international undergraduate school.

Being an International Student is NOT the same thing as Studying Abroad. When you are an international student, you are directly enrolled into the university as a student. Studying Abroad means that you are still connected to a university at home.

Almost every school outside of the USA is guaranteed to be cheaper than what you would be paying in America. Universities in other countries are also shorter programs than in the US. For example, universities in Europe are typically 3 years for a bachelors and 1 year for a masters degree. As well as being shorter, the programs are cheaper. For example, my ENTIRE post-graduate degree costs me less than one year of education at my local public university.

When I was first looking into international relations/development masters degrees, the nearest university to me, would cost me $80,000 PER YEAR. Obviously not every university in the USA is this extreme, but you’re lucky if you find a school less than $20,000 per year. I wanted to pay for my higher education on my own, and I came to the conclusion that I would not be able to stay in The United States.

When I started looking at schools outside of the USA, I narrowed down the Masters degrees programs and their price. It is also extremely important that you find out how accredited the prospect university is, and where it stands on Global education lists. You can find a cheap university anywhere and in the most lovely countries, but that does not mean that an employer will take your degree seriously.

I narrowed down my prospect universities to the United Kingdom and Spain. I ended up choosing Newcastle in the UK, because the program was affordable, I get hands-on experience, and it’s a top 1% school.  I never wanted to live in the freezing cold of Northern Europe, but this is about receiving a higher education, not a vacation. Traveling for scenery and culture should stay in the realm of “studying abroad”. If I chose Spain, it would have been cheaper than Newcastle(and warmer), but the program was not as good and the university was not as globally recognized.

My one year master’s is costing me $16,000 + rent and food. Remember, that food and rent are probably going to be cheaper than in the USA. I can find a two bedroom flat here for less than $500 a month, and you can buy food for less than a few pounds a day.  All costs total, I will have paid less than one year at my undergrad. I was able to charge my tuition to my Venture credit card, and then all of my flights across the pond and back are free.

Applying to be an international student is absolutely no different than applying for a local school, except you need your passport number. If you want to receive a higher education and you cannot afford one in the USA, be brave and look into leaving the country for the sake of getting an education. It can be scary, and maybe you don’t want to live in another country. But if your future dreams and goals depends on it, you owe it to yourself to try. You can still live off of loans and go to a great university in the USA, but you’re risking having the loans affecting your future and/or future family. Wouldn’t you rather dive-in and be debt-free sooner?


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