20 unusual ways to save money: Send your kids overseas for school

It's not news that the annual tuition increase at American colleges and universities always outpaces the rate of inflation. And more bad news comes via Zac Bissonette's blog about a recent report that those hefty hikes threaten to make college unaffordable for most Americans. Unfortunately, that's not a shocker to you, right? I blogged last month that more students should consider community college and trade school. Here's another alternative: college abroad. And not just a semester -- think the entire four years.

Don't laugh. For an article I wrote last year, I interviewed a 22-year-old college grad who just passed the New York Bar Exam and is now a practicing attorney. That's because he chose to get his law degree at Oxford, where his undergrad program included law school and took just three years to finish. He also saved a substantial amount of money. Because Oxford costs $20,000 a year, he paid $60,000 total for college and his law degree. If he had gotten it here, he would have paid $100,000 for four years of undergrad -- and then a ton more for three years of law school.

And that's the norm. Tuition for international students at top universities in the U.K. and Canada are 25 percent to 50 percent less than at U.S. private universities. Students also save time too, shaving at least a year off of undergrad. Travel and living expenses add to the amount, of course, but the total cost is about the same as an out-of-state resident attending state school. The Institute of International Education says a student at Scotland's Unversity of St. Andrews (Prince William's alma mater) pays the same per year -- $13,000 -- as a non-state resident at the University of Virginia. With the dollar climbing against other currencies, it's not as much of a hit to the wallet as compared to a year ago. College is even more affordable in Australia ($11,000) and New Zealand ($9,500). Nearly all U.S. federal loans can be used to pay for school overseas. A good resource for all the information is CollegeAbroad.com.

Going to school overseas is best for students who know what major they want to study on their first day of college. That's because many universities don't offer a core curriculum of arts and sciences, and they require prospective students to declare their major when they apply. That's not so great for students who want to take liberal arts courses before deciding on their major. An overseas degree may not be great if you're applying to graduate school or an entry-level job in the U.S. and they're totally unfamiliar with where you went for undergrad. However, thay're the dumb ones if they haven't heard about Oxford. And if you're a grad with her heart set on working for a multinational company or the State Department, overseas experience is totally in your favor.


So if your kids tell you about their dreams to study at Cambridge or the Sorbonne, don't knock 'em. It may be financially easier to send them there than to school here in the good ol' U.S.A


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