Free Tuition Is The Future!

During our visit to the city of Tallinn, we had the opportunity for a tour of Tallinn University of Technology in Estonia. Tallinn University of Technology was founded in 1918 with around 12,000 students of which about 1,400 are international students from more than 90 countries. The campus consists of multiple buildings which are all connected to give safe access to students during harsh weather in Tallinn. On the far side of campus lies the Mektory building which focuses on innovation and business. The purpose of Mektory is to connect students with resources for innovation to new ideas and businesses. Inside the center are many rooms where students can use the equipment provided to start and develop their creative ideas. Over the years, Mektory has helped many students launch their startup businesses by providing the tools and resources students needed. Every year, Mektory would select three of the best startup businesses and offer them a space within the building to focus on bringing their businesses to market. One startup business, PrinterOS, was able to receive extended usage of the startup room because PrinterOS provides the students with the ability to print through the cloud servers.

The most interesting thing about the school is that it is a public university where tuition is free for all students from bachelors to masters with instructions in Estonian regardless of citizenship status. For instructions in English, the programs are very affordable such as the International Business Administration (MBA) costing only 3,300 euro per year and Law costing 3,000 euro per year. For PhD candidates, tuition is free for all students regardless if the study is in English or Estonian.  In comparison to the public university in the United States, tuition is not free and the cost has increased in the last decades. Below is a table that demonstrates the sharp increase in tuition and fees in the United States from 1975 – 2015.

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The high education cost has been a major issue in the United States with many students taking on large student debts to finance their education. According to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, it was estimated that student debt in the United States lies between $1 Trillion and $1.2 Trillion with about $1 Trillion in Federal student loan debt. The amount of student debt in the United States is astonishing to see in comparison to Estonia where all students are offered free tuition. One way Estonia is able to offer free tuition for the public university is through high tax rate. The average tax rate in Estonia is 42% while the United States has 39%.

In addition to the high tuition cost for Tallinn University of Technology in Estonia, the living cost for the city of Tallinn is relatively low as well. For on campus accommodation, rent per person is about 100 and 120 euro per month which includes utilities. For students who prefer private rooms or apartments can expect prices ranging between 200 and 400 euro per month. The cost of living for Estonia and the United States is vastly different. For example, the average prices for an apartment in Orange County can range from $1,300 to $1,600 depending on the city. It is about three times more expensive to live in the United States than in Estonia since the GDP per capital for the United States is $53k while Estonia is only $18k.

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