Forget Bernie Sanders: Here’s How You Can Go to a Top College for Free
Life + Money

Forget Bernie Sanders: Here’s How You Can Go to a Top College for Free

REUTERS/Steve Dipaola

Bernie Sanders’ plan to offer free public college to all is not as far-fetched as some might think. The only caveat — you have to go to school in Germany and have good grades. More than 4,600 U.S. students are savings tens of thousands of dollars by attending some of Germany’s top universities, according to a BBC report.

College educations are free in many European countries and are open to international students. The BBC report described one South Carolina student who sought a degree in Physics. His single mom could not afford the more than $10,000 a year – even with financial help, scholarships and student loans – her son’s education would have cost at USC, let alone at a top school like M.I.T., Stanford or CalTech.

Related: College Students Are Missing Out on Billions in Free Financial Aid

Instead, he pays $250 a year for his university fees, and his mom sends him between $6,000 and $7,000 a year for housing, health insurance and other expenses. Wunderbar!

The Germany university solution is especially important for students seeking graduate degrees; a Master’s degree in the U.S. costs between $30,000 and $120,000. That’s how Penn State graduate Katherine Burlingame solved her financial dilemma, and she didn’t even speak German.

But she learned — fast. Still, there are challenges -- especially compared with what some say is the coddling that takes place on American campuses. As one American student said, “If I fail, no one’s picking me up.” Another said, “You need to be a specific kind of student who’s able to take the initiative in your education.”

For more information, contact the Institute of International Education.