Study Abroad for Free or with Less Money: Tips and Affordable Study Destinations
Doodle Nandi

Doodle Nandi is a content editor for Hotcourses India- an IDP company, and helps write articles that help students with their study abroad journey.


27 Apr 2023 108.4K Book icon 8 mins Share

Study Abroad for Free or with Less Money: Tips and Affordable Study Destinations

Scholarship and grants, saving on living expenses and opting for distance education are some of the ways to study abroad for free or with less money. Find more tips.

27 Apr 2023 108.4K Book icon 8 mins Share
Study Abroad for Free or with Less Money: Tips and Affordable Study Destinations

What’s included in this article?

  • Apply for scholarships to study abroad
  • Study at affordable study destinations
  • Save money on living expenses
  • Apply for distance education courses/online courses
  • Take up part-time jobs
  • Study in countries where education is free or offered at a low cost
  • FAQs

The cost of studying abroad is a major deterrent for students from India. But studying overseas is a life-changing experience that you would not want to miss if you had the option. Not everybody can find a sponsor to support their education and life abroad. They neither want to burden their parents nor do they want to give up their dreams owing to their financial constraints. This article gives some tips to study abroad for free or with less money and lists some countries that offer free education.

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How to study abroad for free or with less money?

What possible steps can you take to make your dreams of studying abroad a reality? Here are our top 5 tips.

1. Apply for scholarships to study abroad

One of the options to considerably reduce the financial load is to apply for a scholarship or grant. Some scholarships cover 100% of the tuition fee, while a majority of the others cover a portion of the tuition fee. There are scholarships that cover expenses other than tuition fees, too. However, a scholarship that covers 100% of your expenses is a myth. You will have to spend some time researching trusted sources and the right scholarships.

Educational institutions, private organisations, businesses and governments also offer scholarships to students. Scholarships can be broadly classified as merit-based scholarships, need-based scholarships and student identity scholarships, depending on the core criteria for selecting candidates. If you are looking for university scholarships to study at specific destinations abroad, we’ve got you covered:

Here are some more websites you can explore for popular scholarships that are available for international students:

It is important that you research and apply for scholarships ahead. Look for the entry requirements to ensure you are not applying for the wrong scholarship.

And finally, don’t worry if you don’t get a scholarship. There are more ways to fund your studies.

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 2. Study at affordable study destinations

As far as the total expenses are concerned, the country, as well as the location within the country, also matters. For example, the cost of living is comparatively lower in Greece. If the UK is your choice of country, you can consider Manchester, Leicester or Durham where the cost of living is comparatively lower. London is far more expensive than other cities in the UK.

You have to make a wise choice by studying at a cheaper location, that also has top-class universities. Some institutions offer courses at a reduced tuition fee. This does mean that the quality of education is poor.

Countries like Germany and Canada are also affordable in terms of the cost of living.

Start planning now! If you have everything it takes to earn an international degree, then having less money should not pull you down. Start with small steps and work towards your goal. Our study abroad experts will guide you in selecting the most suitable countries. Alternatively, you can also try our Course Matcher tool; a free, smart tool that will shortlist universities and courses based on your profile and preferences.

Study Abroad Course Matcher

3. Save on the living expenses

Apart from the tuition fee, there are several expenses that you could incur while living in a foreign country and managing your finances on your own. Here are 7 ways you can be in control and reduce the expenses involved:

  1. Cook your own meals: This might not be a top priority for you, but, learn to cook some basic meals including your favourites. Eating a decent meal at a restaurant can be expensive, depending on your location.
  2. Use public transport: Most of the popular student cities are well connected by public transport. Though it can be more time-consuming, you can save some money by relying on public transportation. Before you head to your study destination, do research the place and opt for student passes or weekly/monthly passes. Check with your university abroad to see if they can provide students passes for your daily commute.
  3. Opt for affordable housing: Connect with alumni and current students from India to understand how they manage their expenses. Homestays and shared apartments are good options. Research the different housing options and go for the one that is affordable. However, never compromise on safety and basic comforts. It is a place you will come back to at the end of the day.
  4. Be mindful of your shopping expenses: Have a checklist when you go to supermarkets. Be disciplined with the budget you set aside for shopping. Pick the right spots to shop and avoid impulse purchases. Familiarise yourself with the budget of the country to which you are heading. Refrain from buying souvenirs, if you are really looking at ‘saving’.
  5. Try spending more time in your college or university libraries so that you can save on the cost of purchasing books that are not must-buys.  
  6. Finding part-time work is one way to handle your living expenses. More on that later.
  7. Special offers: Many countries provide International Student ID cards that will help you save money on just about anything. You can get discounts, and you can use them at places like salons, clothing stores, restaurants, etc.

Related: 7 easy ways to earn money while studying abroad.

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4. Enrol in distance education programmes

If your priority is an international degree, you can look for distance education programmes abroad. You can complete the course from the comfort of your home (or anywhere with a stable internet connection), but you will have an international degree!

Discover some of the best MBA distance education courses abroad.

Some universities also offer online courses with just a couple of weeks of on-campus sessions. This will give you the best of both worlds. Learn more about the ‘online now, on-campus later’ courses that you can apply for, through Hotcourses India.

5. Work part-time

Working part-time is a normal part of international student life. An income will help you offset the cost of living. However, keep the following points in mind when you look for a part-time job:

Check what is allowed under the student visa you carry. There will be limitations regarding the number of hours you can work in a week. Make sure you are aware of those before you apply for jobs.

Take up jobs that you can deliver. Assignments and projects are a part of college life. You should be able to find time for your studies and other academic commitments while also juggling a part-time job.

Don’t miss the opportunity to learn from other students like you, who made the journey abroad and are settling into their lives abroad. Hear how Navneet planned his studies abroad.

Where can you study abroad for free?

Is it really possible to study abroad for free? While fully free education is not really possible for international students, there are countries that offer heavily subsidised for students, irrespective of their nationality. Here are some examples:

5 countries where you can study abroad for free or with less money

  1. Germany
  2. Norway
  3. France
  4. Finland
  5. Greece

Study abroad for free in Germany

  • Most public universities in Germany do not charge tuition fees to their students. The state finances these higher education institutions.
  • The fee exemption applies to international students too.

Are there any other charges involved?

  • Some continuing education master’s programmes might require that candidates pay some tuition fee. But this is not high compared to the fee to be paid at other destinations.
  • Baden-Württemberg, one of the Federal States charges non-EU students a tuition fee of €1500 (Approximately 1,30,000 INR) for master’s, bachelor’s and diploma courses.
  • Though there is no tuition fee, all students are required to pay a semester fee. It is between €100 and €350 (Approx. 8600 – 30,000 INR). It contributes towards student services and the student government.
  • Living expenses in Germany come up to €870 (Approx. INR 75,000) per month.
  • Students coming to Germany on a student visa starting 1 January 2023 should also show proof of funds amounting to €11208 (approx. INR 9,71,000).

*Source: DAAD

Study abroad for free or at a low cost in Norway

  • Public universities offer free education to all students irrespective of their country of origin.
  • Exchange students are exempt from the semester registration fee too.
  • The University of Oslo, the University of Bergen, the Norwegian University of Science and Technology and the University of Stavanger are some of the top-ranking universities in Norway.

Are there any other charges involved?

Some universities, like the University of Bergen, require that students pay a nominal fee every semester. It is around €60 or approximately INR 5100 per semester.

Living expenses should be borne by the students. It will come to NOK 12717 or approx. INR 1,05,000.

Important: Please note that Norway is considering introducing tuition fees for non-EU students from the fall of 2023. However, a decision is yet to be made.

*Source: UiB

Study abroad with less money in France

  • The French government subsidises higher education. Hence, the tuition fee at public universities in France is comparatively lower.
  • International students can also make use of scholarships offered by the French government. The scholarship amount tripled from €7000 to €21,000 (Approx. INR 6,08,000 – 18.2 lakhs).

Since most courses in France are taught in French, finding a course administered in English could be difficult.

What are the charges involved in studying in France?

  • Students will have to bear the cost of living. However, it is comparatively affordable. Around €870 per month (Approx. INR 75,000). *Source:
  • Non-EU students like Indians are required to pay a differentiated registration fee. This is around €2,770 (approx. INR 2,40,000) for bachelor’s courses and €3,770 (approx. INR 3,27,000) for master’s courses.
  • The cost of studying at private universities will be much higher.


Study abroad for free in Finland

Studying in Finland is free for EU international students only, for bachelor’s and master’s programmes. However, at the doctoral level, education is free of cost, irrespective of the student’s nationality.

If you are a fee-paying student, you are also eligible to apply for scholarships.

What are the other charges involved in studying in Finland?

  • When you apply for a Student Residence Permit, you have to submit proof of finances as well as insurance.
  • You should have a minimum of €560 (approx. INR 48,600) per month to cover living expenses.
  • You should show proof of €6,720 (approx. INR 5,83,000) in your bank account at the time of applying.


Study abroad with less money in Greece

  • Greece is one of the EU countries where the cost of living is comparatively lower. While most of the courses are taught in Greek, you will be able to find English courses at both the undergraduate and postgraduate levels.
  • Non-EU students should pay a nominal fee to study in Greece – approximately €1,500 (approx. INR 1,30,000) per year.
  • Students will be able to live comfortably with a monthly expense of €600 - €700 (approx. INR 52,000 – 60,000)

FAQs on studying abroad with less money

Study abroad for free or with less money

Is there a way to study abroad for free?

Studying abroad without spending any money is not a possibility. However, there are options to considerably reduce the expenses involved. Though very rare, some universities occasionally offer scholarships that cover 100% of the tuition fee. Some also offer a percentage of tuition fee waivers.

In which countries can I study abroad for free?

Depending on the level of study, there are a few countries where you can study without paying any tuition fees. For example, higher education is free in Germany. While, in Finland, only doctoral courses are offered free of charge to international students.

Can I study abroad if I am poor?

Yes, your financial status will not be a strong limiting factor if you have an excellent academic record and meet all other entry requirements for the course. Explore all the ways to fund your studies, especially scholarships.

Editor's note: This article was originally published in April 2017. Our content writer Roshna Mohan has edited it to include up-to-date information and made it comprehensive.

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