Concerns about the rising cost of college in the United States—and the $1.4 trillion in student loan debt nationwide—are alive and well. And they’ve prompted a lot of discussion about the different ways our educational peers nearby, across the pond, and beyond handle student loan repayment programs. When it comes to tuition costs and paying off student loans, the American system is unique—and not for all the reasons you might think.
It turns out that cheap or even free tuition doesn’t mean the end of student loans. Student loans are common even in countries with free tuition, because no matter where you go to college, you have to live somewhere and, of course, eat. Sweden gets a lot of attention because tuition there is free. Still, Swedish students borrow money for college just as frequently as Americans do—and about 70% of students in both countries have student loans. But Swedish students graduate with about $20,000 in debt, compared to about $30,000 for American graduates.
To explore how the rest of the world pays for learning, we looked at the most recent QS World University Rankings. Thirty-two of the top 100 schools are in the U.S. Another 32 are found in just four countries: the United Kingdom, Germany, Australia, and Canada. Below, we compare the way higher education is financed in all five nations, in descending rank order.Read more