By Alanna Petroff
NEW YORK (CNN) — Is New York taking a page from Europe’s education playbook?
Starting this fall, undergraduate students who attend a two or four-year public college will be eligible for free tuition if their families earn no more than $100,000 a year. Tens of thousands of students are set to benefit.
No other U.S. state offers the same deal. But in Europe, some countries have been offering similar benefits for years.
Here’s a rundown of some countries where residents have their higher education financed by the state:
Germany: Regional governments across Germany have all abolished tuition over the past few years.
International students are also able to enroll without paying tuition.
Czech Republic: Czech students get a free pass at universities, but they have to study in the local language. And students have to start paying if they stay too long, which is generally a year beyond the standard length of their degree.
Sweden: The Nordic country offers tuition-free public education to citizens pursuing higher education, and the offer is also extended to students from the European Union. Other international students aren’t eligible.
Nordic countries, known for their low tuition costs, also have high tax rates.
“Higher education is seen as one of these [services] that should be free,” said Thomas Estermann, director of governance, funding and public policy development at the European University Association.
Denmark, Norway and Finland also offer free tuition.
Iceland: The vast majority of university students in this small island nation are enrolled in public institutions, which charge no tuition fees. The few who attend private schools have to pay, but the Icelandic Student Loan Fund provides loans with interest rates that are capped at 1%.
However, Icelandic universities charge students registration fees that are sometimes higher than tuition in other European countries, notes Estermann. The registration fees generally cost about $700.
France: France technically charges tuition to undergraduate students, but the fees are so small that they can be lower than the registration fees in other nations, explained Estermann.
Students studying for their Bachelor’s degree pay about ¬200 ($212) annually.
“No one considers them tuition, but still, in name, they are tuition fees … but they could be classified as registration fees,” he said.
Estonia: The small country overhauled its rules in 2014 so that all degree programs taught in the local language are free of charge for full-time students. Students who fall behind in their studies have to pay tuition.
Only about 11% of students have student debt and the average annual amount of loan per student is just below $3,500, according to The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development.
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