Tuition-free universities offer degrees or courses that don’t charge students a dime for enrolment, books, and course materials. Source: Paul Ellis / AFP

Studying abroad is a huge commitment and investment, but it’s not without its benefits. You’ll not only grow personally and professionally, but it’s also a chance for you to learn a new language, see the world and immerse yourself in a new culture. If you’re looking for a more cost-effective study abroad option, you might want to consider tuition-free universities.

Tuition-free universities offer degrees or courses that don’t charge students a dime for enrolment, books, and course materials. However, administrative charges may apply based on the universities’ terms and conditions. With tuition fees only increasing each year, several universities have considered making education more affordable for those who don’t have the financial capabilities to further their education.

How exactly do they work?

A tuition-free university is not too far off from a normal institution with the exception that it is done entirely online. Studying, consultations, group discussions, attending lectures, writing tests and exams will be done online through video calls. Some courses may offer on-campus options or a hybrid approach.

Why should I attend a tuition-free university?

There are plenty of benefits why a tuition-free university is the best place for you. As the name implies, it is free except for any additional administration charges. Even then, it’s considerably cheaper than paying for a normal university programme.

A tuition-free university would also mean skipping on taking out a student loan, which means you can graduate debt-free upon successfully completing your programme.

The education that you acquire from these tuition-free universities are still programmes made by prestigious or recognised institutions. Just because they may be free, doesn’t mean they are worth anything less.

Established in 1891, Stanford University has educated countless high-profile figures that have made impacts across the globe. Source: Stanford University / Facebook

5 of the best tuition-free universities

1 – University of the People

The University of the People (UoPeople) is a free authorised online university that is also known as the world’s first tuition-free, online academic institution which boasts national accreditation by the Distance Education Accrediting Commission. UoPeople offers a variety of programmes, including associate, bachelor’s and master’s degrees, including an MBA.

2- Stanford University

Stanford University is one of the biggest elite and most prestigious institutions in the US. Established in 1891, Stanford has educated countless high-profile figures that have made impacts across the globe. With Stanford’s tuition-free programmes and courses, you too can experience world-class education from the comfort of your own home. You can find a number of free courses on their website.

3 – Columbia University

Located in New York City, New York, Columbia University is a prestigious research-intensive institute that offers tuition-free online programmes for international students.

Done through edX, Columbia has a plethora of online courses and micromasters that students can choose from, from Artificial Intelligence, Animation, Corporate Finance to Robotics. Their programmes can be taken for free or students can choose to receive a verified certificate for a small fee.

4 – The Berea College

The Berea College’s website notes: “Berea is the only one of America’s top colleges that makes a no-tuition promise to every enrolled student. No student pays for tuition.” The only thing you will need to pay is the 50 US dollar entrance fee and US$2,000 deposit to confirm your enrolment.

Situated in Kentucky, students have a choice to do their studies on-campus or online. They can earn Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Science degrees in 33 majors. There are also select professional programmes, independent, student-designed majors and a dual-degree engineering programme.

5 – Alice Lloyd College

Alice Lloyd College offers students a wide array of degrees and programmes to fit the individual interests of students. Classes are also taught by professors who studied at highly acclaimed institutes, notes its website. Only a limited number of international students are admitted.