According to the College Board, college costs in the United States are on the rise. From the 1999-2000 academic year to the 2009-2010 academic year, on average the published tuition and fees at public four-year colleges and universities increased by 4.9% each year above and beyond general inflation.

IN PICTURES: 8 Financial Tips For Young Adults

For the 2009-2010 academic year, published in-state tuition and fees at public four-year institutions rose 6.5% from the previous academic year to $7,020. Tuition and fees for out-of-state students displayed a similar trend, rising approximately 6.2% to $18,548.

With stats like these, it may be hard to believe that in some countries you can still be educated for free. Countries offering a free education include Sweden, Cuba, Brazil, Argentina, Norway, Finland, Chile and Denmark.

In order for something as valuable as higher education to be provided for free, the cost has to be recovered from somewhere. Here are some of the potential drawbacks of having a free education.

Don't Forget the Other Costs
Some countries waive tuition, but have fees and other costs including books and materials, food, housing and transportation. For instance, in Ireland, tuition is free for undergraduate courses longer than two years, but average fees (registration, administrative, etc.) can be in the neighborhood of 1,500 euros.

In Argentina, many students have jobs, some full-time, while attending college to cover their other expenses. The jobs provide income and experience, but can also make for a difficult balancing act between education and work.

Sweden, on the other hand, actually provides students with a monthly allowance to cover such costs. (For some helpful tips for college budgeting, check out A Foolproof Budget Plan For Textbooks.)

High Taxes
When comparing tax rates by country (as calculated by total tax revenue as a percentage of GDP) it is no surprise that several of these countries are near the top of the list. In fact, Denmark, Sweden, Cuba, Finland and Norway are five of the top ten countries.

For instance, in Sweden, tax revenue funds studies at the university level. Estimates place the top income tax rate in Sweden at approximately 57%. According to the Swedish National Agency for Higher Education, in 2008, the higher education institutions brought in approximately SEK 50.1 billion in revenue.

Quality of Education
According to the Times Higher Education - QS World University Rankings, Ireland is the only nation on this list with a school that ranks within the top fifty universities. Trinity College of Dublin was the highest ranking university from a country that provides tuition free education; Trinity tied with Osaka University for the #43 spot on the annual list.

The top 16 spots are all held by schools in the United States and the United Kingdom, two of the most expensive countries when it comes to pursuing higher education. (For more, see Pay For College Without Selling A Kidney.)

Cost of Living
Oslo, Norway (home to the University of Oslo) has one of the world's highest costs of living, with an estimated cost of living index of 152.85. New York City is the base of the index, so Norway has a CPI that is 52.85% higher than that of New York City. Copenhagan, Denmark also ranks high with a CPI of 138.91, while Dublin, Ireland and Helsinki, Finland came in with CPIs of 120.79 and 113.91 respectively. (To learn more, see Economic Indicators: Consumer Price Index (CPI).)

The Bottom Line
The benefits of a free education are undeniable, but there is no such thing as a free lunch. Having the burden of tuition removed, is a huge benefit which may be offset by non-educational costs. Remember to consider other costs before heading abroad to further your education.

Catch up on your financial news; read Water Cooler Finance: Goldman Fined, Financial Fixes And Apple's "Apology".

Related Articles
  1. Taxes

    Why People Renounce Their U.S Citizenship

    This year, the highest number of Americans ever took the irrevocable step of giving up their citizenship. Here's why.
  2. Professionals

    Is A Stockbroker Career For You?

    Becoming a stockbroker requires a broad skill set and the willingness to put in long hours. But the rewards can be enormous.
  3. Taxes

    Taxes: H&R Block Vs. TurboTax Vs. Jackson Hewitt

    There are more and more tax services to help ease the pain of filing income taxes. Here's our take on three of the biggest.
  4. Stock Analysis

    6 Risks International Stocks Face in 2016

    Learn about risk factors that can influence your investment in foreign stocks and funds, and what regions are more at-risk than others.
  5. Taxes

    Confused About Estimated Tax Deadlines for 2016?

    If you run a business or have investment income, pay attention to this year's estimated tax deadlines. Here are the details, and what's new for 2016.
  6. Investing

    3 Things About International Investing and Currency

    As world monetary policy continues to diverge rocking bottom on interest rates while the Fed raises them, expect currencies to continue their bumpy ride.
  7. Investing News

    Tufts Economists: TPP Will Reduce U.S. GDP

    According to economists at Tufts University, the TPP agreement will destroy half a million jobs in the U.S. by 2025.
  8. Economics

    Governments Ask Tech Giants to Join War on ISIS

    In the US and Israel, governments have asked their respective nations' tech industries to help in the war against ISIS.
  9. Investing Basics

    How to Become A Self-Taught Financial Expert

    Becoming a self-taught financial expert may not be as daunting of a task as it seems.
  10. Economics

    4 Ways China Influences Global Economics

    Learn the four ways China's economy can influence the global economy. The recent decline in Chinese stock markets should be the least of your worries.
RELATED FAQS
  1. What's the difference between microeconomics and macroeconomics?

    Microeconomics is generally the study of individuals and business decisions, macroeconomics looks at higher up country and ... Read Full Answer >>
  2. How do I file taxes for income from foreign sources?

    If you are a U.S. citizen or resident alien, your income (except for amounts exempt under federal law), including that which ... Read Full Answer >>
  3. How Long Should I Keep My Tax Records?

    The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has some hard and fast rules regarding how long taxpayers should keep their tax records. As ... Read Full Answer >>
  4. What’s the difference between the two federal student loan programs (FFEL and Direct)?

    The short answer is that one loan program still exists (Federal Direct Loans) and one was ended by the Health Care and Education ... Read Full Answer >>
  5. How do mutual funds work in India?

    Mutual funds in India work in much the same way as mutual funds in the United States. Like their American counterparts, Indian ... Read Full Answer >>
  6. Does the IRS charge interest on penalties?

    The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) charges interest on any overdue taxes owed, but it does not charge interest on penalties. ... Read Full Answer >>
Hot Definitions
  1. Socially Responsible Investment - SRI

    An investment that is considered socially responsible because of the nature of the business the company conducts. Common ...
  2. Inverted Yield Curve

    An interest rate environment in which long-term debt instruments have a lower yield than short-term debt instruments of the ...
  3. Presidential Election Cycle (Theory)

    A theory developed by Yale Hirsch that states that U.S. stock markets are weakest in the year following the election of a ...
  4. Super Bowl Indicator

    An indicator based on the belief that a Super Bowl win for a team from the old AFL (AFC division) foretells a decline in ...
  5. Flight To Quality

    The action of investors moving their capital away from riskier investments to the safest possible investment vehicles. This ...
  6. Discouraged Worker

    A person who is eligible for employment and is able to work, but is currently unemployed and has not attempted to find employment ...
Trading Center