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What is the cost of attendance at university?

It’s important to consider the cost of attendance when studying at university. From tuition fees to living costs, here’s everything you need to know.

5 min read

Thinking about going to university is an exciting time—you’re exploring locations, picking out courses that interest you and choosing institutions where you know you’ll feel at home. But, when picking which university to go to, it’s also very important to remember to factor in the cost of attendance. Thankfully, this guide is here to help in answering your most pressing questions when it comes to financing your education.

What is the average cost of attendance in the EU?

When you go to university, the cost of attendance is made up of two overarching types of expenditure: your tuition fees and your living costs. But, what is the difference between the two? While tuition fees are determined by the university or country of choice, the city you choose to live in affects your living costs.

Learn more about both costs and get an overview of tuition fees across the EU below:

  • The UK: (England, Northern Ireland) £9,250 per year for UK and EU students
  • Wales: £9,000 per year for Welsh, UK and EU students
  • Scotland: around £1,800 per year for Scottish and EU students, and £9,250 for students from the rest of the UK
  • Germany: No tuition fees at public universities. A small contribution to administrative costs has to be paid (no more than €300/semester)
  • Spain: Tuition fees are set by the government for public institutions Fees range from €750 to €1,200 per academic year
  • Italy: Just as with Spain, public institution tuition fees are set by the government Public undergraduate courses cost around €850 to €1,000 per academic year
  • France: Fees are completely waived for EU students at public institutions Students just have to pay a government-set charge, currently €170/year.

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How does student accommodation in the EU and US add to attendance costs?

Your second biggest expenditure at university that contributes to your cost of attendance is your rent. Looking at the average student accommodation in the EU, here’s what you’re likely to pay:

  • The UK: £535 per month on accommodation, with this figure rising to £640 in London.
  • Germany: €300-€500/month.
  • France: €150/month for a room in student halls, or €500/month for a shared apartment.
  • Italy: €200 to €300 a month for student accommodation
  • Spain: just like in Italy, costs vary from €200 to €300 a month

In comparison, the cost of average college housing in the US will set you back at least $10,000 for a room and board (including all of your food for the year.)

What other (essential) students costs contribute to the cost of attendance?

Once you’ve paid your rent, there’s still a number of other, smaller costs to be covered—and these can quickly add up! From study supplies through to the basics of daily life, here’s what you can be expected to pay:

  • Books and supplies: it’s inevitable that you’ll have to pay for study materials such as books, notepads and other essential stationery items when you study at university. For example, the average price for a standard A4 notepad from a major retailer could cost the following across these countries:
  1. The UK: £1.99
  2. Germany: €2.78
  3. France: €5.78
  • Textbooks: the cost depends on your subject, country, and the resources available at your university. For example, students have to pay between £450 and £750 for textbooks over an entire degree in the UK. But remember—you can always head to the library or make use of your university’s extensive online resources to save a few pennies!
  • Travel: although travel discounts are often available for students, you might still have to pay the following depending on where you choose to study. For reference:
  1. Berlin: A semester ticket costs €180
  2. London: a monthly student travelcard is £160
  3. Paris: this figure is just shy of €70
  4. Rome: A monthly student travelcard costs €35
  5. Madrid: One month’s travel is €20 for people under 26
  • Meals: a shopping basket containing 12 eggs, 1 kg of tomatoes and 500g of local cheese would set you back the following amounts:
  1. Germany (on average): €10.86
  2. UK: £9.10
  3. Italy: €12.55
  4. France: €14.21
  5. Spain: €10.07
  • Personal expenses: to illustrate the range of prices that can apply, here are the costs of a few essentials items:
  1. A tube of toothpaste
    • €2.17 in France
    • £1.61 in the UK
  2. A men’s haircut
    • €17 in Italy
    • €13 in Spain
  3. course of antibiotics
    • €7 in France
    • €10 in Germany

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What is the cost of attendance for studying abroad?

During your degree, there will likely be opportunities to participate in a studying abroad program, which will have a considerable impact your cost of attendance. If you’re interested in studying abroad, whether to learn a new language, enjoy a new cultural experience or simply broaden your horizons, there are lots of options available to you:

The Erasmus study abroad program offers students within Europe the chance to spend a semester (or an entire year) at a college in a different European country. You’ll pay exactly the same fees as you would be charged at your original university, regardless of the fees levied by the university you’re visiting. You’ll also receive an Erasmus+ grant to help fund your cost of attendance.

  • The amount you receive depends on the country you are studying in:
    • Germany: up to €270 a month
    • Spain: up to €210 a month.
  • Outside of Europe, the average cost of tuition fees at college is as follows:
    • The US: fees are between $25,000 and $35,000 per year
    • China: the figure is around €3,000 per year
    • Australia: fees are about $22,000 on average

Regardless of what and where you choose to study, you’ll want to make sure that the cost of attendance doesn’t push you into the red. Yet, with a bit of organization and forethought, you’ll be able to effectively plan your expenses so you don’t get any nasty surprises.

To help you along the way, an N26 bank account offers you a straightforward way to manage your money. And with Spaces—sub-accounts alongside your main account that let you set aside funds for future expenses and personal projects—organizing your finances while studying at university couldn’t be easier.

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