The Cost of College Around the World

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Education is the great equalizer, but the cost of what it takes to attain one is anything but equal from one country to the next. The United States is home to some of the most expensive college tuition rates on Earth — the average price of which increased by 63 percent in the decade between 2006 and 2016 — and the U.S. is in the middle of a $1.3 trillion student loan debt epidemic. Students in many other countries fare much better, with at least nine countries offering their students higher education at the low cost of free. Here's a look at the cost of college around the world, according to data from StudentLoanReview.com.
young man studying in college library
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Denmark is a great place to live, work, and study. The average per capita income is in the high $50,000s, putting Denmark's employees on par with those in the U.S. as among the best compensated in the world. Unlike their American counterparts, however, students in Denmark go to college for free.
Brazilians in college working on project
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Like their academic colleagues in Denmark, students in Brazil enjoy free tuition. The difference, however, is found in employee compensation. One of the industrialized world's poorer countries, the average per capita income in Brazil is less than $10,000.
woman traveling in Berlin
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College is free in this Central European nation, and although graduates may not earn what they might in Denmark or the U.S., they'll certainly do better than they would in Brazil. The average per capita income in Germany is just shy of $45,000.
young college man studying in library with books and notebook
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In Finland, the average per capita income is just a bit higher than it is in Germany — almost exactly $45,000. That's not as much as the average American worker earns, but Finnish students spend a lot less on their education: There is no cost to attend college in Finland.
girl looks up at the ceiling, under the columns of the Athenian Academy
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Students in Greece enjoy the benefit of free college tuition. The problem, however, lies in the country's standard of living amid a lingering economic crisis. The country's average per capita income is less than $20,000 a year.
students entering Trinity College, Dublin Ireland
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Ireland is another European nation that students find appealing: Tuition there is free, and Irish workers earn more than their counterparts in all but a few countries. The average income per capita in Ireland is more than $50,000 a year.
Latin American female student with group of international students
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Mexico is one of the nine countries on this list that boasts college tuition that is absolutely free, but the country's per capita income would still make it difficult to drum up a decent livelihood. The average salary is roughly $9,000 a year, a paltry sum that puts Mexico on par with the poorest countries on this list.
student sitting at cafeteria with laptop and coffee
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The Nordic countries are some of the wealthiest for workers and cheapest for students — and the best of the bunch is Norway. With an average per capita income of more than $80,000, its employees are the highest paid on this list. Its students go to college free of charge.
two students at university
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The final country on this list that provides free college for its students is Poland. That benefit, however, is largely negated by the country's meager annual wage. The average per capita income in Poland is less than $15,000 a year, making its workers the lowest-paid of any European country listed here.
female college student in France
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College isn't free in France, but it's pretty close to free. The average annual cost of tuition there is less than $1,000. Not bad for a country with a respectable annual average per capita income of nearly $40,000.
group of Latin students at the university using a laptop computer
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In Colombia, students can expect to pay only slightly more for annual tuition than they would in France, making it one of the cheapest countries in the world to attend college. But its workers are among the world's worst paid. The annual per capita income is well under $10,000.
group of college students on campus in Austria
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Austrian workers do comparatively well for themselves, earning an average per capita income in the mid-$40,000s. College there is cheap, too. The average annual tuition is less than $1,000 a year.
students on lawn in University of Bern in Switzerland
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Students pay about $1,000 a year to go to college in Switzerland, which is cheap compared to much of the world but expensive compared to the Nordic countries, where college is generally free. The average per capita income is higher than everywhere but Norway — the two countries are neck in neck in the low $80,000s.
smiling female college student in front of Colosseum
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Tuition in Italy is nearly twice as expensive as it is in Switzerland and employees in the country can expect to earn less than half as much as their Swiss counterparts. The country's average per capita annual income barely breaks the $30,000 mark.
two female students at university
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In the Netherlands, workers earn a healthy average per capita income in the high $40,000s, putting the country on par with Austria and Finland. At roughly $2,500 a year, tuition in the Netherlands is more expensive than it is in those countries.
two Chinese college students studying in library
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In China, a year of tuition is only slightly more than it is in the Netherlands — sub-$3,000 annually. With an average per capita income of less than $9,000 a year, however, its workers are paid as little or less than even those who work in the poorer Latin American countries.
students at Tel Aviv university campus
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An average year of tuition in Israel costs less than $3,000 a year. While low compared to the priciest countries, it's still fairly expensive — particularly when you consider the average per capita income in the country is in the mid- to high-$30,000s, which comparatively is just okay.
group of students in library collaborating on project
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The average New Zealander earns a moderately high per capita income nearing $40,000. But tuition in the country isn't cheap. The average cost for a year of college floats around $4,000 — roughly one-tenth the country's average annual income.
university students in Australia
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Australians earn significantly more than their neighbors in New Zealand. The average per capita income in the country is roughly $55,000 a year — about on par with the United States. College there is slightly higher than it is in New Zealand: a little more than $4,000 a year.
group of college students in South Africa
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A year of tuition in South Africa costs roughly $5,000, which makes it one of the most expensive countries on the list. Making matters worse, no country examined here asks its workers to get by on less. The average per capita income in South Africa is roughly $6,000 a year — enough to cover tuition and little else.
male Japanese college student
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Japan, too, averages about $5,000 for a year of college tuition. Its employees, however, are far better compensated than those in South Africa. The average per capita income in the country is roughly $38,000 a year.
group of Canadian university students working together
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Like Japan, America's neighbors to the North pay about $5,000 for an average year of tuition. The annual income there per capita, however, is a bit higher than in Japan. The average salary in Canada approaches the mid-$40,000s.
Kyung Hee University campus with students in South Korea
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A year of college in South Korea costs roughly the same per year on average as it does in the previous several countries — about $5,000 a year. That's not necessarily cheap, If you're considering studying there, however, keep in mind that's a high price to pay considering the average per capita annual salary is less than $30,000.
students walking through the park on campus
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Americans pay more for college than all but one other country — $8,700 a year on average, to be exact. Although Americans earn a comparatively high average per capita income of more than $55,000 a year, the country is the global leader in educational debt.
college students in London
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Only the U.K. charges more for higher education than the United States, about $9,000 a year, on average. Their employees also earn much less than American workers. The average annual per capita salary in the U.K. is $42,000.

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