College is expensive. Whether you are a student trying to plan your future, or a parent trying to save for that college fund, cost is a serious consideration. When looking to get an education for less (without sacrificing quality), many families chose a college very close to home, to save on living costs. However, for some students, there is an even less expensive alternative further away than most of them even thought of. Finland is a northern European country with lovely cities, flawless natural beauty, and free tuition even for overseas students. If moving halfway across the world in exchange for a (tuition) free bachelors degree sounds intriguing, read on.
What can I study?
Finland offers over 500 programs in English, in anything from Nursing to Restaurant Entrepreneurship at several universities. Many of the programs you might have been considering in the United States are offered here. A searchable list of programs can be found on this website, including a filter to get English only results. Universities that offer these programs range from the capital city of Helsinki to towns around the Arctic Circle. Bachelors degrees in Finland generally only take three years to complete, as they do not include the liberal arts (humanities, sciences, etc.) credits required at American universities-you jump right into the study of your field.
How much does it cost?
As tuition is free, you are only responsible for living costs. Part of obtaining a Finnish student residence permits includes access to $9,172 per year for your own living expenses. While this is the requirement, they recommend at least $200 more a month to live more comfortably. The minimum figure is in line with room and board at public in-state colleges in the United States (around $9,500 per year). In fact, completing your degree a year early will save money. Just be sure to factor in the cost of getting to/from Finland, as well as the fact that it is difficult to get a side job without speaking Finnish. There is also much more limited opportunities for financial aid, and possibly student loans, which could complication things for students relying on these for living expenses.
How do I apply?
Applications for Bachelors level studies begin in January for the next fall term. Once you have found a program you like, follow the application instructions. One of the admissions considerations is an entrance examinations which, unless it is waived, will take place in Finland for most American students.
The Finnish university system is a bit different than American institutions, but the experience of living in another culture, and saving money on your education might just be worth it.