Italy is not just a tourist paradise. With highly-ranked universities, a growing list of programmes taught in English, and affordable tuition fees, this fantastic country should be on the radar of any international student.
Read on to find out more about tuition fees in Italy for international students:
Studying in Italy is considerably cheaper than in other countries. On average, tuition fees at public Italian universities range from €500 to €4,000 per year. They can vary depending on the course you enrol in and, most importantly, based on your family income. You will need to submit an application to have your household income assessed in order for the university to determine your fee level. This means your fees could end up being considerably cheaper.
Fees can be higher at private universities or at business schools. For example, at the Università Bocconi in Milan, fees are around €13,000; and at Università Cattolica Sacro Cuore (also Milan), prices run as high as €16,000 per year.
Here is a little tour of some of Italy’s most popular universities – and the range of fees they charge international students:
|University||Typical tuition fees per year|
|Ca’ Foscari University of Venice||€700 to €1,900|
|IULM Milan||€3,500 to €9,800|
|Politecnico di Milano||max. €3,700|
|Sapienza University of Rome||€500 to €1,000|
|Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore||EU students: €7,000 to €16,000 depending on income;
non-EU students: €15,800
|University of Bologna||depend on income|
|University of Genova||max. €3,000|
|University of Milan||€3,900|
|University of Padua||max. €3,000|
|University of Pavia||€0 to €4,800|
It is worth noting that some of the best universities in Italy, which are also highly ranked worldwide, have really cheap fees compared to universities in other countries.
For example, at the University of Bologna, one of Italy’s top-ranked universities, fees for most Bachelors and Masters top out at around €3,000 per year. Studying at Ca’ Foscari University of Venice will set you back only up to around €2,000 per year. And at Sapienza University of Rome - also a top 200 university worldwide -, fees are even lower: Courses usually cost less than €1,000 per year.
Tuition fees at public universities in Italy are variable based on family income, meaning that students will pay according to their economic situation.
Each university can set their own tuition fees, and decide the level of fees at specific income levels. You will usually find a range of the minimum and maximum cost. The highest tuition fees at large public universities are often between €2,000 and €3,000 euros and therefore still lower than in most other countries.
Students paying according to their capabilities sounds like a good idea, doesn’t it? Remember that when you’ll have to deal with the inevitable world-famous Italian bureaucracy.
What determines how much you have to pay in tuition fees is the “Equivalent Economic Situation Indicator” - or ISEE, short for the Italian term, L’indicatore della Situazione Economica Equivalente.
For international students whose assets are outside of Italy, universities have a different ISEE, the ISEE parificato. This is an option always available for EU students. Some universities offer it also to non-EU students.
To assess your economic situation, you will have to submit a range of documents about yourself and your parents’/family assets (bank account balance, tax returns, and of course your passport) usually to tax support offices (CAF – centro di assistenza fiscale) affiliated with the university. The details of what documents need to be sent where can vary from institution to institution.
It can be a complicated process, but universities offer assistance through their website and their offices. Ask the admissions officers or look out for the segreteria studenti and ufficio tasse.
Ensure that you
Note: Applying for the ISEE assessment is optional - you don’t have to do it. If you don’t apply, you will pay the maximum tuition fees that the university generally charges. If you already know that you would not qualify for a lower fee, this can save you the bureaucratic hassle.
Some universities don’t have the option for non-EU students to submit an ISEE and have a ‘flat tax’ instead. It is usually cheaper for students coming from developing or low-income countries.
There are usually no application fees at Italian universities. However, if your chosen programme is highly selective, you might have to participate in an admission test - and that can cost some money. For example, admission tests for a medical degree typically range from around €25 up to €100.
Students in Italy usually pay their university fees in three instalments spread out over the academic year. The exact timings vary from university to university.
Generally, when starting your degree programme in autumn, you can expect to pay
For example, at Ca’ Foscari University of Venice, the tuition fee instalments are usually spread out to late September, mid-December and mid-May. And at Università di Roma La Sapienza, fees are typically due in early November, late December and late March.
The exact amount of fees that you pay in each instalment can vary. The first instalment generally also includes a regional tax - often between €120 and €180 - and a stamp duty - usually less than €20.
Make sure you check with your university when the deadlines are, and mark them in your calendar: There could be late fees if you miss a tuition payment date.
There are some opportunities to study for free in Italy, or for very low fees. Tuition fees at public universities are variable based on your household income. Depending on your personal situation, you could end up studying completely tuition-free, or paying next to nothing for your course.
Each university decides for itself what the income threshold should be - the level of earnings below which there are no tuition fees. To qualify, you will have to submit a range of documents in order to have your household income assessed (the “ISEE” assessment). Unfortunately, at some universities, this option is not available for non-EU students.
And if you don’t find an option to study for free, don’t despair. Even the highest programme fees are more affordable than in other popular European destinations. And it will certainly be worth it when you think about the great time you’ll have studying in Italy! Also, there are scholarships available for international students.
There are some scholarship opportunities for international students that want to study at one of the universities in Italy.
Some are offered by the government, especially the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Ministero degli Affari Esteri). Also, each individual university will have its own scholarship programmes, sometimes in partnership with the government or the region.
Usually, international students can apply to the same scholarship programmes available for Italian students, unless otherwise specified.
It’s worth inquiring early at your university what schemes are available, and what you need to do to qualify - look out for student services called Ufficio Borse di Studio or Diritto allo Studio. Scholarship applications can get complicated, and by giving yourself plenty of time to prepare the needed documents you will have a buffer if any unforeseen challenges arise.
The monthly cost of living in Italy as an international student can vary depending on many factors, for example the city, how you want to live, how much you want to eat out and so on. As a principle, you’ll need somewhere between €900 and €1,300 a month to cover rent, food, transportation, entertainment etc.
Rents in some cities are considerably higher than in others. Rome, Milan and Venice are known to be expensive, while accommodation is cheaper in cities like Naples, Pisa or Genoa. Here are some examples:
What you spend on groceries depends a lot on your personal preferences and where you shop. Discount supermarkets in a residential area are going to be cheaper than small convenience stores in the city center. Expect around €200 to €300 per month with a comfortable student lifestyle.
Going out to eat does not have to be expensive: A meal at a pizzeria can cost you around €10-€15, while a breakfast at a café can be had for around €3.
Public transport is relatively affordable, especially with student discounts: Expect monthly tickets to be priced around €25 or annual tickets with a small discount at around €200 to €250.
Medical appointments are free in Italy on the national health service, the servizio sanitario nazionale. Italy has a high-quality national health system which provides many services, such as doctor’s appointments and some hospital appointments and procedures, including emergency, for free.
EU students can join the national health service free of charge, or alternatively rely on their European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) from their home country. Non-EU students, however, will have to pay an annual fee. But as far as health insurance goes, it is quite cheap at around €150 per year.
Student life is always about saving money. Here are some tips on how to enjoy la dolce vita while on a tight budget:
As an international student in Italy, you are allowed to work - and it’s a great way to finance your studies.
In an ideal world, we’d like to tell you that you can just study and spend the rest of your time roaming around on a Vespa. But we all know that a part-time job can be necessary to support yourself during your study. Also, it might help you practise your Italian and meet some new friends.
The rules that apply depend on your citizenship:
A popular option for students looking for part-time jobs are the so-called 150 ore. These are 150 hours that selected students spend working for the university (usually in the administrative departments) at a decent wage. Every university has its own application process.
A note for EU students: While you don’t need a visa or a work permit, if you plan to stay in Italy for more than three months you are required to register as a temporary resident at your local council.
424 Programmes in Italy