How to Get a Great College Education by Leaving the Country

Are you open to thinking outside the box in order to potentially save tens of thousands of dollars on your child’s college education?

If so, I have an idea for you.

How to Get a Great College Education for Tens of Thousands Less by Leaving the Country

Consider these two excerpts from Forbes magazine:

During 2010–11 tuition and fees at U.S. private four-year colleges and universities averaged $27,293, with room and board running another $9,700, for a total of $36,993, according to the College Board. Dozens of top private schools posted tuition and fees exceeding $40,000 and total costs of $50,000-plus. Even the University of Michigan, a state school, will charge out-of-state juniors and seniors tuition and fees above $40,000 for 2011–12.”

“But St. Andrews, the oldest university in Scotland and the alma mater of Britain’s Prince William and wife Kate, will charge tuition of just 13,500 pounds ($21,650) to U.S. students for 2011–12, while the University of Oxford will charge 12,700 to 14,550 pounds, depending on the course of study. Tuition and fees at Canada’s McGill University will total $16,689 Canadian ($17,400 U.S.) for U.S. students studying for a B.A. and $25,722 Canadian for those working toward an engineering degree.”

Studying abroad for a semester or two is a pretty well-known path American college students take.  In 2008-09, more than 229,000 U.S. undergraduates received credit for studying abroad, according to the Institute for International Education.

The idea I’m suggesting is to just take things a step further. Instead of studying abroad for just a semester or two – go to college out of the U.S. and spend the entire four years abroad. The reward: a great college education at a fraction of the pricey private school costs here in the U.S.

How do you go about researching international colleges?

Step #1 is to narrow down the list of majors you want to study.  The Discover program is an great tool to help with this process.  And in a lot of cases working with a qualified Career Counselor can be very valuable.

Step #2: Pick a country.  This is potentially the trickiest part. The easy answer is to simply look at just English-speaking countries such as Canada, England, Scotland, or Australia.  But some colleges with a different main language offer programs in English. As Forbes pointed out…

“Most notably, Finland has 102 such programs, so a native of Kansas could study business or information technology in Helsinki. Moreover, Finland’s undergraduate programs are free, even for Americans. (Details are at”

Will You Get a Fair Financial Aid Offer?

Step #3: Search for colleges with your major (or a major that will get you into your chosen profession).  The website is a great place to start with this step. They have search options for both country and major, including the UK, Japan, the Caribbean, and New Zealand, just to name a few.

Step #4: Compare the true costs.  This is the step that could ultimately make or break the deal.  A large number of overseas colleges will not charge U.S. residents the listed sticker price – even if you wouldn’t typically qualify for financial aid here in the U.S.

But there are a couple things you need to keep in mind.

Tuition prices overseas are not immune to future increases. (The same could be said for U.S. schools as well). Plus you need to factor the potential impact of a falling dollar, since a weaker dollar could make studying abroad less of a bargain.

A perfect example is Canada. The Canadian dollar was once valued at 40% less than the U.S. Dollar. But as I write, they are nearly identical in value. That means Canadian colleges got 40% more expensive in the past decade just from currency fluctuations.

Of course, studying abroad is not for everyone.  In fact, maturity is very important. A large percentage of undergraduate degrees outside the U.S. require just three years of study instead of four.  Students start right into their major from day one (versus American colleges giving kids a year of random classes to try and figure out what they want to do).

So for kids who haven’t decided which career field to pursue, this probably won’t work.

But for those college-bound students who are certain of their career path, studying abroad and saving money is an excellent option to consider.

And you just might save tens of thousands of dollars in the process.

To your college funding and admissions success,

Scott Weingold

Co-Founder, College Planning Network LLC

Publisher, – The free educational resource of College Planning Network

Related Articles:

Top College Planning Questions from Parents: Part 1

Top College Planning Questions from Parents: Part 2


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ElsieJanuary 21st, 2012 at 2:50 pm

You mention the Discover program. Could you indicate what that is and where I can find it? Thanks.

Cathy EbenJanuary 23rd, 2012 at 12:42 pm

Hello Elsie,
As a client you are given a Discover ID that will help to identify the student’s abilities, interests and values. The results are used to aid the student in defining possible areas of major and in creating a college list. You can find the Discover link on your College Planning Network account.

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Editor's Note: Scott Weingold has been ranked the #1 “College Financial Aid Expert Worth Knowing About” in the entire country by  He has co-authored the book, “The Real Secret To Paying For College. The Insider’s Guide To Sending Your Child To College – Without Spending Your Life’s Savings.” Scott also publishes a popular free online newsletter, “College Funding Made Simple" which reveals insider’s tips, methods, and strategies for beating the high cost of college.

Scott is the co-founder and a principal of the widely renown College Planning Network, LLC – the nation’s largest and most reputable college admissions and financial aid planning firm. CPN is a proud member of the Better Business Bureau, the National Association of College Funding Advisors, the National Association for College Admission Counseling, the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators and the Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education.

Scott, along with his college funding advisory team, helps thousands of families throughout the country with their college planning needs and offers a series of free educational webinars and workshops on “How To Pay For College Without Going Broke In The Process!” He's been featured or mentioned in The Philadelphia Inquirer, Yahoo News,, Voice America with Ron Adams, Crains Cleveland Business, and on Cleveland Connection with James McIntyre.  Scott has published numerous articles and is a professional speaker who has addressed thousands of audiences online and offline throughout the United States.  His actionable insights and candid, open approach have earned him & his team numerous media interviews, citations, and speaking opportunities, and his free online video workshop is one of the Internet’s most widely viewed pieces in the college funding space.