How Much Does College Cost Around the World?

Wading through the morass of negativity in the education world lately, there is a bit of uplifting news where you’d least expect it — in the American higher education world.

The average tuition discount rate, or the amount of aid dispersed through grants and scholarships, from U.S. colleges hit an all-time high for incoming students. That’s good to hear, considering the steep and fairly steady price tag of an American college degree.

According to the US Department of Education, for the 2010-11 academic year, average undergraduate tuition, room, and board at public institutions was $13,600, while at private universities the cost hovered above $36,000. That’s a 42% and 31% increase in the last 10 years for public and private schools, respectively.

It’s no wonder American universities are being forced to reach deeper into their endowment coffers to lure students through the ivy gates.

While this tipping point is a sad reflection of the economics of the American university, the shift in the burden of costs certainly favors the debt-destined student.

The U.S. isn’t alone with this confusing financial predicament. In Sweden, for example, universities are free. But the average debt carried by Swedish college students at the beginning of the year was nearly $19,000.

Before you order your books for fall semester, for comparative education’s sake, here is a quick snapshot of the cost of college in six other countries.  

This data is from the Global Higher Education Rankings 2010 report. The yearly tuition cost is derived by averaging the costs of enrollment fees at public and private universities in each country. The total yearly cost refers to the cost of tuition, plus learning expenses and living costs. All costs are converted from local currency into U.S. dollars using the Big Mac Index as a method of Purchasing Power Parity. Discrepancies may exist if tuition has changed.

1. Norway

Tuition cost: $596

Median income: $22,623

Percentage of income: 2.2%

Total cost: $8,096

2. Australia

Tuition cost: $7,962

Median income: $23,017

Percentage of income: 33.4%

Total cost: $19,352

3. Germany

Tuition cost: $933

Median income: $22,020

Percentage of income: 33.4%

Total cost: $6,250

4. Canada

Tuition cost: $5,974             

Median income: $26,623      

Percentage of income: 22.44%        

Total cost: $13,007

5. Japan

Tuition cost: $11,865           

Median income: $22,790      

Percentage of income: 52.06%        

Total cost: $24,802

6. Denmark

Tuition cost: $530

Median income: $22,929

Percentage of income: 2.31%

Total cost: $9,943