By Alice Neville
With student loan debt increasing, high school students are desperate for an affordable and enriching college experience. After 2 years living in a pandemic, young people are getting restless about staying in their hometowns after high school because of how unaffordable out-of-state college tuition is. Although many students don’t even know it’s an option, there is a solution to be considered that could solve both of these issues.
Many countries in Europe offer free or nearly free college tuition for international students— and more American students should be aware of this option.
With the student debt crisis being talked about in the media, more attention is being brought to the extreme cost of college tuition in America. As four-year colleges remain the status quo for newly graduated high schoolers, students and their families are paying the price. Student loan debt has increased 157 percent since the 2008 recession and the pressing issue has caught the attention of politicians like President Joe Biden who has considered forgiving some student loan debt. But while wealthy politicians take their time to consider their options, the weight of debt on young adults isn’t easing up. The average student debt among loan borrowers in the U.S. is $32,731, while Americans can study for free or very affordable in countries such as Germany, Austria, Luxembourg, Iceland, Sweden, and Finland.
The lower cost isn’t the only positive of going to an international university. Being introduced to new cultures and people is another important aspect. After 2 years of living under pandemic regulations, many young people are desperate to leave their hometowns and see new parts of the world. Moving abroad for college is a great way for students to see new ways of living and meet people from all over the world. Central European University in Budapest, Hungary teaches 1,435 students from 118 countries around the world. In America, one would normally have to go to an expensive and prestigious university like Harvard (where 23 percent of the students are international) to see such diversity. Low tuition colleges in Europe allow for even the less wealthy to meet people from all around the world; an opportunity often reserved for the upper class in America. It’s important for future generations to be more equipped in interacting with people from all over the world as we are ever globalizing.
Some students turn down international study because of the misconception that it will be more expensive. Although some places in Europe are notorious for their high cost of living, this isn’t the case everywhere. In Bonn, Germany, students need an estimated $850-$1,050 (€800-€1,000) per month to live comfortably. Bonn is home to many cultural sites and opportunities as well as Bonn University, which is just $315 (€300) per semester for international students. Cost of living isn’t a reason to rule out studying internationally because there are plenty of affordable cities to live in overseas as well as an abundance of affordable educational opportunities.
To summarize, going to college in a different country out of high school has many great benefits for American students such as being more affordable than many universities in the United States. Students will also be introduced to new ideas which will expand their minds and ultimately make them more prepared for the world.