College costs are a big barrier for many Americans who want to pursue higher education. For the 2015-16 school year, average tuition and fees alone are $9,410 a year for four-year, in-state public schools. For out-of-state schools, those costs are nearly 2.5 times higher, according to estimates by The College Board.
To avoid falling into student loan debt, graduating high school seniors — and their parents — might want to look further abroad than just out of state. With the average cost of out-of-state tuition at $23,893, plenty of international colleges offer a better deal: high-quality education at an affordable price.
GOBankingRates surveyed international colleges listed in the QS World University Rankings 2015/16 to find colleges with annual tuition costs that fall below the nearly $24,000 average for out-of-state tuition in the U.S. The study found 23 colleges overseas that offer a premier educational experience at a great value.
Click through to see the cheapest colleges around the world that cost less than U.S. schools — and how they can help you save on college costs.
1. The University of Auckland
- Annual tuition: $21,753
Located in New Zealand, the University of Auckland has more than 6,000 international students from 110 countries and is a leading school for studies in archaeology and arts and humanities, according to QS.
For a typical Bachelor of Science or Arts, however, international students will pay approximately $21,753 a year in tuition and fees.
2. The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology
- Annual tuition: $18,052
Ranked as a top Asian university and No. 28 in the QS World University Rankings, the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology is ideal for international students. However, it’s still one of the pricier schools on this list.
Besides the $18,052 price tag, international students should also plan on living costs of roughly $1,500 to $2,500 a year. To develop better money management skills to handle these costs, prospective students might want to consider signing up for one of the best credit cards for college students.
3. City University of Hong Kong
- Annual tuition: $15,474
The City University of Hong Kong is another high-ranking Asian college. English is this overseas college’s language of instruction, which makes it an accessible option for U.S. students looking to go international.
This school requires just over $15,000 a year in tuition fees from international students, and housing starts at around $700 a semester.
4. The Chinese University of Hong Kong
- Annual tuition: $15,474
A third university in Hong Kong, the Chinese University of Hong Kong is ranked No. 6 among Asian universities by QS, with high-ranking electrical engineering and social sciences programs. This school carries the same tuition costs for non-local students at the City University of Hong Kong. Lodging is paid as a hostel fee that’s around $1,500 for a year.
5. Lund University
- Annual tuition: $14,767
With strong research and geography programs, Lund University in Sweden is a larger university of about 30,000 students where more than 20 percent are international. According to the QS rankings, this university has great geography, life sciences and medicine programs.
6. Utrecht University
- Annual tuition: $13,669
Utrecht University in the Netherlands is a leader in veterinary science, life sciences and medicine. Instead of following a set course of study, each student creates his own study program, which takes three years to complete, and has his own personal tutor. U.S. students will have an advantage here, as the language of instruction is English.
7. National University of Singapore
- Annual tuition: $12,654
Ranked No. 12 in the world university rankings by QS, the National University of Singapore offers a premier educational experience to international students.
This university is a particularly strong choice for students interested in pursuing degrees in engineering. It also has many international students, just under 10,000, which is close to a third of its total student body.
8. Nanyang Technological University, Singapore
- Annual tuition: $12,649
Nanyang Technological University, Singapore, is right behind the National University of Singapore, ranked No. 13 among world universities — just behind Princeton (No. 11) and ahead of Yale (No. 15).
With highly rated materials sciences, engineering and technology programs, Nanyang Technological University has drawn in over 8,000 international students.
9. McGill University
- Annual tuition: $12,007
While Canada isn’t technically overseas, McGill University in Montreal, Quebec is still a strong option for U.S. students looking to branch out in their college search. It offers plenty of familiarity, and tuition starts low at just over $12,000 a year — though McGill housing and a meal plan will add approximately $8,500 or so in costs for the year.
10. Leiden University
- Annual tuition: $11,958
Those searching for a college with plenty of history behind it should consider Leiden University, which was founded in 1575 and is the oldest university in the Netherlands, according to QS.
Leiden University has strong arts, humanities and archaeology programs. U.S. students should be prepared to learn Dutch, however, as this is the language of instruction at this school.
11. The University of Hong Kong
- Annual tuition: $11,500
The University of Hong Kong is ranked No. 2 among Asian universities and No. 1 overall in the subject of dentistry, according to QS, making it one of the best colleges for those subjects. Its strong academic standing makes it a smart choice for U.S. students.
Tuition starts at $11,500 annually for non-local students. Other living costs include lodging, which starts at $1,900 a year, with other living expenses and miscellaneous costs adding $8,300 to overall costs.
12. Delft University of Technology
- Annual Tuition: $9,888
Another university in the Netherlands, Delft University of Technology’s language of instruction is Dutch, though aerospace engineering and earth sciences are taught in English.
This school is ranked highly at No. 4 in the subject of architecture. A bachelor’s program costs about $9,900 a year for non-EU students, and students should also budget about $1,700 to get settled in and approximately an additional $970 to $1,250 a month for living expenses.
13. University of Groningen
- Annual tuition: $9,114
The University of Groningen is also located in the Netherlands and boasts 9,000 international students, which is about a third of its student population. Although tuition for international students starts as low as approximately $9,000, that cost increases depending on your area of study. For example, students interested in the medicine degree program should expect to pay about $36,000.
14. Kyoto University
- Annual tuition: $4,935
Kyoto University in Kyoto, Japan is a larger university that ranks high for chemical engineering and natural sciences in the QS rankings. It carries the same annual tuition costs of other Japanese universities on this list of around $4,900 a year, as well as a $2,600 matriculation fee to enroll.
15. Tokyo Institute of Technology
- Annual tuition: $4,935
As a tech school, it’s no surprise that Tokyo Institute of Technology scores high in subjects like engineering, electronics and technology by QS. This school is small, however, with just under 10,000 students, of which about 1,000 are international students.
16. The University of Tokyo
- Annual tuition: $4,935
Located in Tokyo, Japan, The University of Tokyo’s tuition for an undergraduate program is around $4,900 annually, but students will face additional admission and examination fees. The University of Tokyo ranks well for modern languages and natural science, however, which could make it a smart choice for students interested in those subjects.
17. Peking University
- Annual tuition: $4,754
Peking University in Beijing, China carries a nearly $125 application fee, and tuition is about $4,000 a year for humanities students and $4,600 a year for science subjects. This college is highly ranked for the subject of modern languages and natural sciences by QS.
18. Shanghai Jiao Tong University
- Annual tuition: $3,946
According to Shanghai Jiao Tong University, international students should plan on paying around $3,900 on tuition and have an additional $400 or so a month to cover living expenses. This is a larger school with close to 40,000 students, of which just 7 percent are international students.
19. National Taiwan University
- Annual tuition: $3,900
National Taiwan University is a solid choice among Asian universities, offering strong engineering and science programs. It’s a larger program with around 31,000 students, according to QS.
Tuition and fees for the 2015-16 year ranged from $1,680 to $2,638 a semester, depending on the department of study. And living costs are estimated to add another $2,800-$3,770 a semester, according to estimates from National Taiwan University.
20. Tsinghua University
- Annual tuition: $3,712
Beijing’s Tsinghua University is ranked at No. 25 overall for world universities by QS, and has strong programs in engineering, civil engineering and technology. Yearly tuition starts at around $3,700 for cheaper programs and ranges up to $6,200 for the university’s pricier fine arts program.
21. University of Zurich
- Annual tuition: $2,547
Located in Switzerland, the University of Zurich is a larger school with a higher number of international students — around 20 percent of its 26,000 students, according to QS data. No. 85 in the overall world rankings, this university ranked No. 25 for dentistry and No. 50 for life sciences and medicine.
22. ETH Zurich – Swiss Federal Institute of Technology
- Annual tuition: $1,210
ETH Zurich offers programs for international students, as well as those interested in student exchanges. It has a high number of international students that accounts for more than a third of the total enrollment, according to QS data.
Most impressively, ETH Zurich is the highest-ranked college on this list, coming in at No. 9 among world universities, according to QS — ahead of Princeton, Johns Hopkins and Yale — and is ranked first in the subject of earth and marine sciences. And as a public university in Switzerland, tuition is cheap at just around $600 a semester.
23. University of Geneva
- Annual tuition: $1,179
Located in Geneva, Switzerland, the University of Geneva has strong international ties to organizations like the United Nations and World Health Organization, which means that it could be an ideal pick for prospective students hoping to continue to live and work on a global level. This university is an even better choice due to its low fees and tuition.
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Methodology: U.S. tuition and fees averaged $23,893 a year to attend a 4-year, out-of-state school on-campus, according to CollegeBoard estimates for 2015/16. GOBankingRates surveyed world universities listed in the QS World University Rankings 2015/16 to identify universities with cheaper tuition than the U.S. Tuition costs were located on the university’s site and converted into USD; tuition prices given by semester were doubled to assume a two-semester school year. All currency conversions reflect exchange rates from April 1, 2016, to April 12, 2016.
About the Author
As a finance journalist and editor with GOBankingRates, Elyssa Kirkham covers finance news, consumer savings and deals, and banking. Kirkham’s work has appeared on major sites like Huffington Post, MSN, Investopedia, CU and CB Insight, The Motley Fool and a range of major local newspapers.