Updated: Jun 21, 2022
At this point, we've definitely established that university in Europe is far more affordable than in the US. From tuition to living expenses, making the move is well worth it. But even universities that are affordable when compared to the US are still out of reach for many. So here's your game plan for getting your degree in Europe for free.
In case you don't know me...
I'm Liza, an American student who took my education abroad after graduating high school. My initial motivation was avoiding the crippling student debt that has, unfortunately, become so normalized in the US.
Four (debt-free) years later, I have graduated from Anglo-American University in Prague with a Bachelors in Humanities, Society and Culture, and have just started grad school at Vrije Universiteit Brussel studying New Media and Society.
Before I explain how I did it, let's look at some numbers;
Undergraduate Degree: $ 25,700 total ($ 4,283 per semester)
Graduate Degree: $18,338 total ($ 4,584 per semester)
Definitely read my whole blog post about this (linked above) but here's an uber brief overview.
Rent: 10,000CZK ($428)
Food: 2,400-4,000CZK ($100-$181)
Transportation: 120CZK ($5.15)
Drug Store Stuff: about 500-750CZK ($21-$32)
Entertainment: 400-2,400CZK ($17-$100)
Non-EEA Undergraduate Degree: € 3,247 - €3,850 per 60 credits (one year)
Non-EEA Graduate Degree: € 961 - € 3.850 per 60 credits (one year)
and keep in mind you may have to take a few preparatory classes which might add €10 to €40 per class.
Living Expenses per Month in Brussels:
As far as living expenses go though, I have been here exactly one month and can't accurately say the total costs but heres what I know so far.
Rent: €410 plus €100 in utilities
Renters Insurance: about €100 for the year depending on your coverage options
Transportation: €1 (students get a €12 pass for the year!)
yup thats what I know for sure thus far (but sign up for emails so I can notify you when I write the full updated blog!)
Okay so now that you know how much it costs to live abroad for uni...
Let's talk affordability.
I paid my tuition and living expenses three ways:
Throughout my time in Prague and Brussels, I have always had a job or two. In Prague, I was an ESL teacher at Kids&Us. I loved every minute of it and it paid higher than most student jobs in Prague. However, hours were limited in my first year so I was thankful to have savings and working definitely helped me stretch my savings out much longer.
Savings are absolutely essential before moving abroad. I am privileged to have parents who set up a 529 college savings plan when I was born. However, any interest accrued on your savings will be lost if the money isn't spend on tuition at a college in the US. Still, we decided it was worth it to pull the money out of that account to fund my education abroad. Thanks to this account and my savings from high school jobs, I moved to Prague with $12,000.
Scholarships for International Students:
There are so many scholarships out there that will help you cover the whole cost of your degree. So, here is the list of scholarships I have found (and let sit in my notes app) over the years that are available to international students.
Skip to the section you need:
Non University Specific Scholarships:
No specified amount per person ..... but global grants have a minimum annual budget of $30,000 and a maximum World Fund award of $400,000 (not per person though! like overall but since there's not a single winner and a huge minimum budget you've got great chances)
No Specific deadline but a sufficient amount of time before your program starts
Master's Students & Humanitarian projects
Deadlines: November 1 and June 1
Studying outside the US
Minimum GPA of 3.8 (on a scale of 1.0 to 4.0)
Deadlines: July 30 and December 30
Student who have an idea but need some financial help to get it rolling
IBPF (International Bipolar Foundation)
Cash prizes $1,000, $500, $250
Deadline: November 1
Essay contest; High School Students only
Applications open: September 3 2021
Applications close: May 16 2022, 12:00 CEST
Applications open: July 7 2021
Applications close: April 25 2022, 12:00 CEST
Deadlines: March 15, July 15, and October 15
U.S. citizens or legal permanent residents; between 18 and 28; participating in a work, internship, or volunteer abroad program for at least six months (cannot be for academic credit or independent research)
Deadline: September 30
Deadline: January 30
€2,000 cash prize
Deadline: October 4
£1,000 cash & Meeting with the CEO
Deadline: October 31
Round 1: January 4 2021 – March 31
Round 2: Accepting entries May 3 – August 1
Round 3: Accepting entries September 1 – November 30
Tuition fee waiver
(PhD) Research Expenses
Available to students from Peru
100% off tuition
Available starting your second semester based on your performance in your first semester
you must complete 5 courses before qualifying
GPA > 3.9 or UK numerical GA > 68
Afghan Refugee Scholarship
Full cost of tuition and fees and an additional 60,000czk support allowance
Afghan citizens evacuated from Afghanistan in August 2021
Milena Jesenská Journalism Scholarship
Tuition for the program’s 4 core courses
For a dedicated member of the school newspaper
Ministry of Education Accommodation Scholarship
540czk per month in cash (about $300 a year)
Literally every foreign student gets this, you apply in like two seconds on your computer and it's just given to you twice a year
Bring a Friend Program
$500 for every student who enrolls and references you on their application
p.s. if you don't know anyone to write down feel free to write me :) I'm not a student anymore but because of my blog and TikTok and all that I'm technically a recruiter now so I'd appreciate it <3
Reduction of tuition to that which is paid by Flemish scholarship student (I think this is only like $300 but I'm not certain)
Deadline: February 25
Granted to 20 students
VUB Scholarships for Master of Science in Photonics Engineering
10.000,- EUR/academic year
For the Master of Science in Photonics Engineering program
VUB B-PHOT Excellence Scholarships
5.000,- EUR/academic year
For the MSc. in Photonics Engineering
Waves International student fees reducing tuition to about $1,000
Pays for your flight to Belgium & return home
Logistic allowance and indirect travel costs
For students from countries in Africa, Asia and Latin-America
For MSc. in Marine and Lacustrine Science and Management
For Interuniversity Programme in Water Resources Engineering
And don't limit yourself to this list! Your nationality, as well as the country and school you study at, will change what you qualify for.
Edited by Sophia Pedigo