The price to attend university is rising at an alarming rate. The cost seems to be going higher and higher, and no matter how much political talk follows, the prices will not be going down anytime soon. In any business, once the price is originally set for some product or service, it usually only gets more expensive down the road. Thinking that the cost of university will eventually go down is just wishful thinking.

Those in the U.K are currently scoffing at the cost of university in some places. However, the price is closing in on what the cost has been already in the United States. Tuition fees vary widely in the U.K. and the U.S. depending on the university or the location. Still, both places are under the media’s spotlight for spiraling prices.

One quick thing before discussing all the numbers, remember that most U.K. universities offer shorter programs compared to countries such as the U.S. The U.K. averages three years for an undergraduate degree and one year for a master’s degree. In the U.S. and quite a few other places, you can add an additional year on for both degrees. So in the U.K. the students are paying for three years instead of four, or even four years instead of six. This is quite the money saver in that aspect. U.K. Averages

There are two different levels of tuition fees at the publicly funded universities in the U.K. There are home student fees that include any students in the European Union (EU), and then there are international student fees for students outside the U.K. If you are an international student, expect to pay quite a bit more than the home students.

Home students in England can pay up to a maximum of $11,370 per year for undergraduate degree programs. In Wales, it is just slightly lower, unless you are a student from Wales. A student from Wales can attend anywhere in the U.K. for only about $4,800 a year. In Northern Ireland, the maximum limit is only $4,830. Scotland offers a great deal for students from their country and the rest of the EU (but not England, Wales, or Northern Ireland). Students do not have to pay anything for their three years to receive an undergraduate degree.

U.S. Averages

Just like in the U.K., tuition prices change greatly in the U.S. when the factors of location, and in-state or out-of-state tuition is entered into the equation. The average tuition rate across the U.S. for undergraduate degrees for public universities is $9,410 a year if you are living in the state. If you are living out of the state and have your heart set on attending a certain public university, be prepared to pay a premium. On average, U.S. tuition fees have increased by 500 percent over the past three decades.

The private universities in the U.S. usually ask astronomical fees. You may be lucky enough to be accepted into Harvard or Yale, but is it worth the price tag? Harvard charges about $60,000 a year and Yale is at $48,000 a year. In fact, there are several private universities that ask for more than $60,000 a year in the U.S. And remember, that is for at least four years for an undergraduate degree.

How to Pay?

In the U.S., the tuition fees have to be paid upfront by either the student and their family, or through education loans with sometimes very high

interest rates. In England, fees do not have to be paid upfront at all. Repayment only begins when students are earning above an income of $28,000, and debts from the university are written off automatically after 30 years if it has not already been paid off.

According to the U.S. Department of Education, 8.5 million borrowers of student loans are currently in default. That is more than one in ten student loans that are currently outstanding. People are sometimes still paying off their student loans by the time they reach retirement age.

Choose Carefully

Whether you are a university student in the U.K. or the U.S., if you shop wisely enough, you can find a university that will not cost you your future. Being in debt for such a long time for such a large amount can be quite daunting. Does the name of the university on your degree matter to the extent of crippling your finances for decades to come?