By Terry Miller
As we celebrate those who graduate this year, we are flummoxed by the out of control—the ridiculous—cost of higher education, or any education for that matter.
Last week beaming graduates at Moorhouse college were shocked when Robert
Smith, a billionaire investor and philanthropist, announced his family was setting up a grant to wipe out the class of 2019’s student debt.
Apparently Smith’s philanthropic endeavor went viral, as they say, and others caught the bug: donating millions to students in the U.S. to help ease their ever-growing burden of student debt. What a terrific idea.
The staggering cost of higher education in the United States has many prospective college students wondering whether going to college is worth the expense. While conventional wisdom still points to the benefits of having a college degree, more students and their families are seeking alternatives to lower their college tuition bills. Some Americans are even looking abroad, as some countries offer free tuition to international students and programs of study entirely in English.
With an average annual cost for a private four-year college at around $32,410 – $46,000, putting a whopping six-figure debt for the student and parents, just how do graduates pay off such a staggering debt? The lottery? Or, just go to community college which is far more affordable.
A young man who just graduated from the State University of New York at New Paltz, known as SUNY New Paltz, Tyler Laderer, 22, cannot afford to continue on to medical school as had been his desire since he was 3. His parents are still paying off his student loan for a state school. He is now living at home with his parents as so many do post-college. Pondering his future as a doctor seems less likely, sadly, with each passing week unless, of course, he continues his studies abroad.
It’s 2019, and Americans are more burdened by student loan debt than ever, according to Forbes. According to Forbes, “There are more than 44 million borrowers who collectively owe $1.5 trillion in student loan debt in the U.S. alone. Student loan debt is now the second highest consumer debt category – behind only mortgage debt – and higher than both credit cards and auto loans. Borrowers in the Class of 2017, on average, owe $28,650, according to the Institute for College Access and Success.”
In Denmark, the government pays its students to attend college. According to a report in the Washington Post, under the Statens Uddannelsesstøtte program, all Danes over the age of 18 are entitled to funding from the state for up to six years for post-secondary education. Every student who doesn’t live with their parents receives about 5,839 Danish krones (about $900) per month, and they do not need to pay the state back — even if they drop out of college — according to the Post. High-performing students have even more funding opportunities.
Norway, Germany, Finland, Sweden, France and Slovenia offer free or minimal fee university. Over the past few years, France has modified its free tuition model, and some EU students pay tuition based on family income. Such changes may eventually impact how much international students pay to attend French universities.
Europe remains a well-known, highly sought-after destination for students seeking refuge from high-priced U.S. colleges and universities, but public universities in countries such as Mexico and Brazil also have virtually free tuition; students pay registration fees, which amount to very little when considering the exchange rates.
Some universities offer top-quality programs of study in English. Earning a degree south of the border also makes it possible for students to learn highly sought-after languages of commerce, such as Spanish and Portuguese.
Americans can also apparently attend university in China and pay around $3,000 per year, which is very affordable when compared to U.S. tuition fees. The best tuition deals in China, however, are usually reserved for students able to pursue their studies in Chinese.