Study in Costa Rica on Low Tuition: Application Process and Cost of Living

Beaches, tropical rainforests, a well developed society and an amazing quality of life: studying on low tuition in Costa Rica might sound too good to be true. Using the QS Latin America University Rankings 2018, Costa Rica has six universities among the region’s top 400. While this is quite few when compared to countries such as Brazil and Mexico, Costa Rica’s top-ranking institution, Universidad de Costa Rica (UCR), sits at a very respectable position of 19th, and has been improving its global standing in recent times.

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How to Study in Costa Rica

Costa Rica has no armed forces and does not spend money on it, as such it has more opportunities to invest in other state priorities, such as tertiary education. This,in addition to cheaper living costs,  studying in Costa Rica is quite affordable when compared to other destinations in Western Europe or North America.

Tuition fees equally vary widely between different universities in Costa Rica, while living expenses range between US$500 and US$700 per month, based on your lifestyle. For accommodation you should expect to pay between US$380 to US$470 per month for a normal apartment, although university residences and flat shares may be slightly cheaper.

Over the last few years, the World Bank has strengthened its commitment to tertiary education in Costa Rica, seeking to improve access for talented international students as well as improve quality facilities, teaching methods, research and the system as a whole. At present, US$250 million in total has been spent on this project, with funds continuing until the end of 2017.

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Applications & student visas

Admission requirements vary based on the university, but generally you will be expected to provide details of your secondary-level education, identification and proof of proficiency in Spanish. Other required documents may include a police record, immunization records plus birth certificate.

Once you gain acceptance to a Costa Rican university, you’ll be required to find out which type of visa applies to you. In a few cases you’ll find out you do not require a visa at all; this is the case for citizens of the US, Canada and the EU, plus those with an existing visa for the US, Canada, Japan or across the EU.

Universidad de Costa Rica

In addition to being Costa Rica’s highest-ranking institution, the Universidad de Costa Rica (UCR) is equally the country’s oldest university and its largest per student enrollment. UCR’s primary campus is based in the city of San Pedro, close to the capital San José. Overall, across all its campuses, the school records an attendance of around 39,600 students.

Universidad Nacional Costa Rica

This university houses more than 12,000 students, the Universidad Nacional Costa Rica is one of the country’s prestigious public universities, and awards a broad spectrum of degrees. The school’s primary campus is the Omar Dengo Campus located in the city of Heredia, 11 kilometers from San José. Heredia is known for its Spanish colonial architecture, excellent coffee and young, bohemian atmosphere.

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