According to this article (and many more like it), there are many countries around the world that will allow US citizens to study for free. If you are anything like me, you immediately began dreaming of all the amazing times you would have studying abroad, only to have those dreams come to a screeching halt when you thought about how to pay for your living expenses. After all, living anywhere ain’t cheap. It is one thing to consider paying for school and living expenses using student loans, but the fact of the matter is that most loans won’t pay for your living and studying expenses in a different country. And besides that, student loans are stupid. If you plan to get your degree using student loans, you are likely to be locked into paying for that shit for years to come–thus limiting your ability to travel, live abroad, take risks like quitting a job where you are unhappy, or dedicating time to volunteering.
So is it possible to live and study in another country and do things a little bit differently? Let’s see.
According to the Washington Post:
Some Brazilian courses are taught in English, and state universities charge only minor registration fees. Times Higher Education ranks two Brazilian universities among the world’s top 400: the University of Sao Paulo and the State University of Campinas. However, Brazil might be better suited for exchange students seeking a cultural experience rather than a degree.
Brazil’s foreign student program is far less developed than those in Europe, and as a result, information is less widely available and varies depending on its source. Although the original article states that programs are provided in English, multiple sources indicate that proficiency in Portuguese is a requirement for admittance.
In order to qualify for a study visa, students must show that they have enough money to finance their studies (315 Brazilian Real/$105 a month). Cost of living is much less expensive in Brazil than in the other European cities we have discussed, but a one-bedroom apartment in Sao Paulo will still run about 1,900 real ($634) and inflation is a serious problem. Additionally, it’s crime rate is ridiculous, placing it 18th in the world for murders (although, incidentally, my future home South Africa is 11th, so that shouldn’t be a sole deterrent).
International students are not allowed to work in Brazil to finance their studies whatsoever. Individual universities might offer scholarships to attend their school, but such options are limited and generally reserved for poor students looking to attend private universities.
Because of these circumstances, it doesn’t seem like studying in Brazil would be an option for me personally. Perhaps it truly is a better option for studying abroad–your home university would be able to help clarify school-specific entrance and study requirements, but unfortunately, that option isn’t free.