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When Germany announced the it would no longer charge tuition for German students and international students alike, news outlets across the world spread the news far and wide citing this ruling as a game-changer in education. It sounds idyllic, doesn’t it? Spending your college years in an exotic foreign location, learning from distinguished german professors, meeting people from all over the world – all for with no tuition charges hanging over your head!

Before you go packing your bags, however, there are various factors to consider when deciding whether to gain a degree at an international university. Here, we will walk through the viable aspects and the risky aspects of attending college abroad and will mainly look at attending a university in Europe – by far the most popular option for American students.

The Rise of International Education:

It is undeniable that international education is more viable than ever, with multiple countries following the German model in offering free tuition to international students. Increasingly, international universities, mostly in European countries, are catering towards American students. As of 2016, over 300 universities offer more than 1,500 wholly english-instructed bachelors degrees according to a New York Times report.

Tuition in European countries runs from completely free in Germany, Finland, Norway, and Sweden to around $247 in France to up to $21,365 in England. China, a popular non-euro destination for American students, is another highly feasible option, charging around $3,000 per year for international students.

Not only are the options to gain a degree abroad expanding at a rapid pace, but the benefits of international education are becoming more widely publicized. In addition to the lower tuition fees and rich cultural experiences, those who attend college abroad have been shown to get hired at a higher rate and earn higher salaries directly out of school than their domestic counterparts. Additionally, with communication methods and transportation technology more advanced than ever, now might be the time to pursue a degree abroad for those who are interested in exploring the world.

The Small Print:

Although the benefits are seemingly numerous, there are some important factors that should be taken into account before rushing off to begin your international education. Firstly, it is noteworthy to look into the quality of education you would be receiving from

an international institution versus one in America. In Germany for instance, the recent influx of students seeking free tuition has caused the quality of education to be called into question. Quartz reports that German public colleges have seen a 10% decline in the amount spent per student, with the average school spending $16,895 per student compared to $27,924 in The United States. This has ultimately resulted in few German universities appearing in top portion of international rankings, something that’s essential to gaining a worthwhile degree abroad.

Another factor worth considering is the fact that many international universities are not on the list for FAFSA loan eligibility. This means that most of your expenses -including housing, food, and textbooks – would be coming from out-of-pocket. Despite the lower cost of tuition, this could prove to be an important component as the cost of living in european countries is, on average, much higher than that of The United States.

Of course, all of these facts and statistics are pointless if the student considering options abroad lacks the proper personality to complete an education abroad. Many universities across Europe and Asia follow an educational model that is very different from that of American systems, placing more responsibility on the students and requiring a high amount of work outside of the classroom. Those students that are self-starters, and those who don’t mind learning independently, would have the best chance to properly adjust to international education.

Final Thoughts:

In addition to international education, there are a variety of options for students considering a non-traditional approach to college, including getting your degree online. With online education options becoming more popular than ever, maybe this is the true trend American students with wanderlust should be watching – remote education means you could complete a degree from anywhere in the world. For those highly interested in gaining a degree abroad, however, doing your research is of the utmost importance in deciding whether it is a smart and viable move. Consider all the factors discussed in this article, as well as the many others that should weigh into your decision, before jumping on a plane!

Sam Frenzel is a writer for Teach.com based in Upstate New York. He covers topics including education policy, teacher welfare, and technology in the classroom.