With U.S. college costs continuing to rise, many students are considering going overseas for their degree, where universities are cheaper.
According to the most recent data from the Institute of International Education, more than 47,400 Americans are pursuing a degree abroad as of 2015. That’s a sharp increase from previous years.
For students who need higher credentials for their field, graduate schools abroad for Americans can be a way to get necessary degrees at a steep discount.
Is going to school overseas worth it?
Schools in Europe, South America, and Africa can be significantly cheaper than universities in the United States.
For example, a year at Oxford University—one of the most prestigious and well-known schools in the world—costs under $40,000 for overseas students when you add up annual tuition and college fees.
By comparison, a year of undergraduate study at Princeton University—a highly-ranked school in the United States—costs more than an estimated $66,000 a year.
If you’re willing to go to a university in other countries, the cost can be even less. For example, in Germany, tuition for American students is free. There are even scholarships from the German Academic Exchange Service that students can use to cover their living expenses, such as rent or insurance.
Graduate schools abroad for Americans
When you’re looking at a degree that could be free versus one you could be paying tens of thousands of dollars for more, the decision may seem obvious.
However, going to school overseas isn’t necessarily the ticket to an affordable education. Here are four factors American students should consider before packing their bags and heading to university abroad.
1. Not all degrees transfer
Depending on your intended field, your degree from a school in another country may not transfer to the United States.
For example, if you want to be a dentist or a doctor you may be tempted by cheaper medical school options overseas. But, keep in mind that you’ll have to jump through hurdles and spend a lot of money before you can practice in your home country.
Essentially, to practice as a doctor with a foreign degree, you need to pass several medical licensing exams in the U.S. You also need to and complete a residency program in America. Having a degree from a medical school overseas can make it more challenging to find a program that will accept you for residency.
So before enrolling in graduate school abroad for Americans, make sure you understand how your industry views foreign degrees.
2. Hidden costs
While tuition may be cheaper overseas, there are other expenses you should keep in mind. Some common expenses include a student visa, health insurance, housing, and transportation.
For example, a student visa in England costs more than $400. There’s also an additional health surcharge of about $190. Plus, since many international students are not eligible for the U.K’s National Health Services, you will need to pay for your own medical insurance.
What’s more, you may have to pay a premium to rent housing near your university. Also, flights abroad and plane tickets to visit home for the holidays can add thousands of dollars to your university abroad bill.
Before deciding on a school, calculate the cost of other expenses to ensure you’re still getting a good deal.
3. Lack of employment opportunities
When you go to college, a part-time job or side gig can be a great way to manage your expenses.
But depending on what country you choose to study in and the type of student visa you qualify for, your job opportunities may be limited.
Some student visas do not allow you to work while you’re abroad. Therefore, you may be ineligible for employment. That means you’ll have to live off your savings or rely on credit cards to fill the gap.
4. Paying for school can be tricky
Even though foreign universities can be cheaper, getting the money to pay for them can still be difficult. U.S. federal student loans can be used to pay for some international schools. However, you need to navigate the process on your own.
When comparing schools, check to see if they are on the Federal Student Aid’s list of International Schools Participating in the Federal Student Loan Programs. If your school is not on that list, you will not be able to get federal student aid.
Do your research before getting your degree overseas
If you’re considering graduate schools abroad for Americans because the universities may be cheaper, make sure you do your homework.
Cheap tuition may not be enough to make up for your other costs. But in some cases, you can get a degree for a fraction of the price of an American school.
For more information on how to reduce your college costs, check out this article on the pros and cons of dorm living.
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