The monetary cost of attending a modern college, university, or other institute of higher learning can often be prohibitively high. Tuition fees in the United States, for example, averaged $10,000-$38,000 per year (US$) in 2021-22, with many private universities exceeding $50,000. Housing and living expenses add to that total. Grants and scholarships can help offset tuition costs, but typically fall short. As a result, many students—particularly minorities, who earn a disproportionately low income in many countries—cannot afford to attend college. Those students who do attend must often take out massive student loans, saddling themselves with significant debt that can take decades to repay.
To address these concerns, a number of countries have made college/university tuition free for their citizens. In these systems, higher education is available to most students at little to no cost (often requiring only a small administrative fee) regardless of limiting factors such as income level or social status. Most of these countries are developed nations and many are democratic socialist states in which the government also provides other essential services such as universal or single payer health care.
A number of countries further extend the offer of free (or minimal cost) tuition to international students as well. This enables students from the United States and other countries with high college tuition costs to study abroad while also obtaining their education with minimal cost. However, it should be noted that classes in many countries are taught in that country's native language—universities in Greece, for instance, teach most classes in Greek rather than English—which could introduce a language barrier. Also, most of these countries are European, and may require extra fees from students from outside the European Union (EU) and/or European Economic Area (EEA). A full list of countries that offer free tuition to nationals and/or internationals can be seen below.
Countries that offer free college without nominal fees include Germany, Kenya, Panama, Norway, Iceland, and Iran. Many EU nations also provide free college to those from other EU countries.