Want free college? Go to Germany
That’s right — if you can book a flight and understand German enough to scrape by, you can earn your degree without paying a dollar (or Euro) in tuition or fees.
That’s how it used to be, but German universities began to charge students around $630 per semester for nearly a decade before returning to tuition-less courses. In the U.S., students attending their state’s public university (which is generally the more affordable option) pay an average of more than $4,000 per semester. Even when Germany charged its students tuition, the cost of a four-year program was cheaper than half a year at a cheap public university in America.
Hamburg Senator for Science Dorothee Stapelfeldt said that charging anything for higher education could, “discourage young people who do not have a traditional academic family background from taking up study.” The move is controversial in Germany and abroad, even though much of Europe has publicly-funded higher education. German critics point that the small amount of money students were previously charged did not discourage enrollment or increase debt. American critics argue that Germany can afford to waive tuition fees because universities spend half what the U.S. spends per student and as a result, have large class sizes and a less rigorous education.
But free tuition is also undergoing consideration in the states. This year, three states — Tennessee, Oregon and Mississippi — have proposed tuition-free, two-year programs at community colleges as the nation’s combined student loan debt surpassed $1.2 trillion, triple the combined debt that students and families faced two decades ago.