Although it’s not common for students from first world countries to study here in Bolivia, we have seen this happen in some student exchange programs across different colleges and careers that exist here. If this is your case, the cost you’re going to face for studying in Bolivia will certainly be one of the cheapest, but the education services you’ll get will be also quite poor in many cases.
In Bolivia tuition costs for public colleges are $0 for Bolivians and ~$8,000 for foreigners. In private colleges, tuition costs go from $3,500 to $18,000. Total costs, including living expenses, for a bachelor’s degree normally range from $10,000 to $40,000. Scholarship discounts go from 50% to 80%.
We are Bolivian people who have studied in our country and also have seen how much money foreign students end up paying for studying here for one semester or for a full career. So, we’ll give you all the details about these costs in Bolivian colleges, and also how to save as much as possible while you’re studying here.
General cost for a bachelor’s degree in Bolivia
Here in Bolivia, you’ll find 2 types of colleges:
- Public colleges
- Private colleges
Public universities are financially supported by the Bolivian government, but this support is only meant for Bolivian students. When you are studying in public colleges in Bolivia, as a Bolivian you don’t pay any kind of tuition, but as a foreigner you’ll pay between 50% to 100% of the tuition costs.
On the other hand, private colleges fully depend on the tuition that both native and foreign students pay. When studying in private colleges, you as a foreigner will usually pay the complete tuition, but sometimes, and thanks to available exchange programs, you’ll pay only between 20% to 80% of this cost.
The total college studying costs
The costs for getting a bachelor’s degree in Bolivia can be divided in 4 components:
- Tuition costs
- Extra fees
- Room and board
- Other living expenses
In general, tuition costs will represent only ⅙ of the total bachelor’s degree cost. Room and board will be the largest costs involved in getting your degree in Bolivia, and will represent about ½ of the total cost.
Extra fees and other expenses will represent the last 2/6, including clothing, transportation, entertainment, etcetera. This component will also involve the medical insurance and transportation services if available.
Remember that no University in Bolivia has a campus in which you can live as a student. So, you’ll always need to rent an apartment, get your food and other related stuff outside the college. Also remember that in Bolivia students can’t get student loans, no matter if they are either Bolivian or from overseas.
|Cost (1 Bolivian student – around 4.5 years)||Cost (1 foreigner student – around 4.5 years)|
|Room and board||$2,700||$24,300|
|Other living expenses||$5,400||$16,200|
|Total degree’s cost||$8,600||$49,000|
|Room and board||$5,400||$24,300|
|Other living expenses||$16,200||$16,200|
|Total degree’s cost||$31,100||$50,000|
|Master’s degree tuition||$7,000||$7,000|
|Doctorate’s degree tuition||$12,000||$12,000|
|Student loans||Don’t exist in Bolivia||Don’t exist in Bolivia|
*Foreigners will pay between 50% to 100% of the full tuition in Bolivian public colleges.
As you can see in the table above, for Bolivian students, getting a degree in public colleges will cost about 30,% of what it costs in private colleges, averaging $31,100 for private colleges and $8,600 for public ones.
For students from overseas, the cost for both private and public colleges will be almost the same, and around $50,000 for 4.5 years of studying to get a bachelor’s degree in Bolivia. Notice that this total cost is 2x to 7x higher than for native college students, and this fact is not just a coincidence.
What happens in Bolivia is that native college students are used to still live with their families while they are studying, this results in them saving a lot of money in both room and board expenses, and paying almost nothing for both of them.
This is also the case for upper-middle college students and almost all the students in Bolivia. We estimate that around 95% of college students in Bolivia stay living with their families while they are getting their bachelor’s degree.
This is something that foreigners can’t do, because they don’t have a family to support them in the country. So, they need to pay a lot more in room and board expenses, which increases, at the end of the day, to nearly $50,000 the cost of studying here. Anyways, you can emulate this by living with a Bolivian family in a student exchange program.
Cost of a master’s degree
You can also get a master’s degree in Bolivia. In this case, you’ll need to pay the full tuition, no matter whether the college is public or private.
The tuition cost for a master’s degree normally averages $7,000, and you need to study for at least 1 year to 2 years to get this degree, getting a total cost of around $15,000 to $20,000 when taking into account all the other living expenses.
Cost of a doctorate’s degree
You can also get many doctorate’s degrees in our country. Also in this case, you’ll need to pay the full tuition for the degree, no matter whether the college is public or private.
The tuition cost for a doctorate’s degree will be about $12,000 and you’ll need to study for around 2 years to get it, resulting in a total cost of around $30,000 if you include your total other living expenses.
Detailed costs for a bachelor’s degree in Bolivia
Here we’ll show you the grained details about how much it will cost you to get a bachelor’s degree in Bolivia, according to the 4 components we mentioned before.
As you can see below, tuition costs can be divided in:
- Access fees
- Tuition fees
- Graduation fees
Even public universities will charge some kind of access fee to all the students, whether they’re natives or from overseas. Also, in some cases, some private colleges will have a significant graduation fee that you’ll need to pay before getting your bachelor’s degree, but most public colleges, and other private colleges, won’t ask for these graduation fees.
|Tuition cost type||Cost (1 Bolivian student – around 4.5 years)||Cost (1 foreigner student – around 4.5 years)|
|Access fee (public college)||$100||$100|
|Access fee (private college)||$300||$300|
|Tuition fees (public colleges)||$0||$8,000|
|Tuition fees (best private colleges)||$18,000||$18,000|
|Tuition fees (avg. private colleges)||$9,000||$9,000|
|Tuition fees (bad private colleges)||$3,500||$3,500|
|Graduation fees (public colleges)||$400||$400|
|Graduation fees (private colleges)||$1,200||$1,200|
As you can see in the table above, in regards to private colleges, you can compare the tuition cost with the quality of the college to which it belongs, and as you may expect:
- The best private colleges in Bolivia are also the most expensive.
Even more, there will also be some bad and poor quality private colleges that will charge you almost nothing, but if you study on them, you’ll get one of the worst educational experiences across all of South America.
And of course, the most important cost here is the tuition degree itself, which will be $0 for students from Bolivia in public colleges, but from 50% to 100% of the full cost for foreign students. But when studying in private colleges, no matter whether you are native or from overseas, you’ll need to pay the full tuition.
2) Extra fees
Beyond tuition costs, other extra fees that you’ll have to pay in most universities in Bolivia are a) the medical insurance and b) the college’s transportation service.
Of course, in all cases you can choose not to pay these extra fees and hire your own services and insurance, also some colleges won’t have these options. Generally speaking almost all universities will have a medical insurance program, but just a few of them will offer transportation services.
|Extra fee type||Fee’s amount (per year)|
|Colleges’ transportation service||$170|
Anyway, these costs will be very little in general, as you can see in the table above. Medical insurance will cost you generally just $60 for the whole year. The transportation service to the college is available for some private colleges, but not for others, and will cost you around $170 for the whole year.
3) Room and board
As you may know, in Bolivia there is no University that can offer you a campus where you can rent a student unit. No university has this service here and you’ll need to find somewhere else to live. But of course, there are a lot of departments and studio units near to colleges that can be rented and are most of the time rented by students.
Generally speaking, if you want a small apartment in a great place near to colleges, you shouldn’t be spending more than $250 a month, in some cases $350 but no more. Ideally you should be spending around $200 for a studio unit or a 1-bedroom apartment.
|Room and board costs||Cost per month|
|1 or 2 bedroom high quality apartment||$350|
|Room provided by an exchange program||$0|
|Average board services||$120|
|High quality board services||$200|
|College’s campus rental||Non existent in Bolivia|
As we say before, almost all college students in Bolivia still live with their parents or their family while they are studying and getting their bachelor’s degree. This reduces their room and board expenses almost to $0.
Nevertheless, you can achieve something similar with student exchange programs that will allow you to use the home of your tutors, so you don’t need to spend anything in room, and less in board costs, while studying in our country.
You can see our complete guide about how to rent a house or real estate unit in Bolivia, with all the details for different incomes, styles of living and goals you may have: How to rent a house in Bolivia? All the details and steps.
4) Other living expenses
When studying here in Bolivia, you’ll also need to cover your monthly living expenses other than room and board. These will include additional food, health and transportation services, apparel, room utilities, entertainment, etcetera.
Living like an upper-middle class Bolivian student shouldn’t cost you more than $300 a month on other living expenses.
|Other expenses (avg. student / upper-middle class student)||Cost / month|
|Monthly living costs (extra food, apparel, transportation, entertainment, etcetera – room and board not included)||$100|
|Monthly living costs (extra food, apparel, transportation, entertainment, etcetera – room and board not included)||$300|
But of course, you may come from a very rich family that is able to spend 5x or more than what most even upper-middle class students spend here, or you may be on a budget and want to save as much money as possible. In this case, with just $100/month in other living expenses you can be just fine, like any other low to middle income Bolivian student.
Visit our dedicated guide with all the details about the full living costs in Bolivia, for different incomes and including students on a budget, in the following direction: The cost of living in Bolivia, all the details and numbers.
Putting together all the elements of the total cost of getting a bachelor’s degree in Bolivia, you’ll have in general the following results.
Bachelor’s degree in a public college
The average cost for 4.5 years of studying to get this degree will be around $8,600 for a Bolivian student in a public college.
For students from overseas, the total cost will be around $50,000 for most cases. This increase is due to the fact that you’ll need to pay part or the full tuition, despite the college being public, and also because you’ll need to spend much more on room and board costs.
Bachelor’s degree in a private college
The average cost for 4.5 years of studying to get a bachelor’s degree will be about $31,100 for a Bolivian student in a private college.
For students from overseas, the total cost of getting a bachelor’s degree in a private college of Bolivia will be around $50,000. But it’ll range from $45,000 for the worst colleges available here to $60,000 for the best ones.
Remember that you can get important discounts with student exchange programs, working for the University itself, getting an excellence or sports scholarship, and similar strategies here in Bolivia. These discounts will range from 20% to 80% of the full tuition.
Variables with a big impact on university costs in Bolivia
Here we’ll discuss the variables that will affect the most the final cost you’ll have to pay for a bachelor’s degree in Bolivia.
The university you choose
The college you choose as a foreign student is very important in relation to tuition costs. With public colleges, the cost will be about $8,000, no matter whether they offer high quality or poor educational services.
On the other hand, you have a wide range of costs depending on the quality of the private university you’ll choose to study in. As we say before, in Bolivia in general, the more quality of education a private college has, the higher tuition fees it charges.
So you can see in the table below that almost all public colleges will charge you a full tuition cost between $5,000 to $10,000 depending on the discounts you may have. In contrast, private colleges will go from $9,000 for the cheaper ones to 22,000 for the most costly ones.
|University||Tuition fee (bachelor’s degree – Bolivian)||Tuition fee (bachelor’s degree – Foreigner)|
|UMSA (public)||$0||$5000 to $10,000|
|UMSS (public)||$0||$5000 to $10,000|
|UAGRM (public)||$0||$5000 to $10,000|
|USFX (public)||$0||$5000 to $10,000|
Here we are including only the best and most well-known universities available in Bolivia. The colleges listed in the table are the best ones you can find in our country. Of course, there are hundreds of other colleges, but they have such bad quality educational services that it’s not even worth mentioning them here.
We have a complete review of the best universities that exist in Bolivia, with all the details about why they are the best and the worst respectively, in the following direction: link.
Your style of life as a student
The way you live as a student in Bolivia will also impact a lot in the final cost of your bachelor’s degree. Here you can have different styles of living, for example if you live like a normal Bolivian student, or a foreign student from the first world, a wealthy student, a student on a budget, etcetera. As you can see in the table below.
|Student type||Monthly expenses (without tuition)|
|Student on a budget||$300|
|Student from a 1st tier country||$1,000|
|No money limited student||$1,500|
|As a middle-class Bolivian student||$500|
|As an upper-middle class Bolivian student||$750|
|Within an exchange program (foreigner)||$400|
If you live as a lower-class Bolivian student, then you’ll spend just around $300 in all your living expenses other than room and board. But we don’t recommend you to do this, lower-class Bolivian students have lots of limitations in how they live, to the point that these restrictions impact a lot on the quality of their learning.
On the other hand, if you want to live as a student from a first tier country who doesn’t want to lose the standard of living that he can get in his source country, then you’ll need to spend from $1,000 to $1,500/month in living expenses.
We think that if you live like an upper-middle class student in Bolivia, you’ll have almost everything you need to get the best of your studying time in a college here. Going by this way, with spending around $750/month, you’ll be able to live in a very decent apartment, and get all your daily expenses well covered.
The programs and discounts that are on your degree’s plan
You can also get important discounts if you are part of a student exchange or scholarship program. Here is how the following college programs in Bolivia can bring you discounts on your tuition:
- Student exchange programs (from 20% to 50% discount in tuition costs and important discounts in living expenses).
- General Scholarship programs (from 50% to 80% discount in tuition costs).
- Working for the University (discounts up to 80% in tuition costs and an additional salary in some cases).
- Excellence scholarships (about 80% discount in tuition costs).
- Sports scholarships (about 80% discount in tuition costs).
|Additional college program or discount||Tuition final fee (private colleges)||Degree’s total & final cost|
|No additional program||$8,000||$50,000|
|With 50% scholarship||$4,000||$46,000|
|With 80% scholarship||$1,600||$43,400|
|Student exchange program||$8,000||$41,000|
|Working for the university||$1,600||$46,000|
|Exchange + excellence scholarship*||$1,600||$34,400|
|Exchange + working for the college*||$1,600||<$34,400|
|80% sports’ scholarship||$1,600||$26,100|
|80% excellence’s scholarship||$1,600||$26,100|
*We recommend you to 1) use an exchange program to lower your living expenses and additionally 2) get the best grades to apply for an excellence scholarship. You’ll get huge discounts with this strategy, around 80% of the tuition per semester and more than 50% less in living expenses. You can also get an extra salary if you work for the University.
How to save money when studying in Bolivia?
As we just said, you have several strategies to save as much as possible when studying Bolivia, you can use exchange programs, scholarships of different types, but also you can combine these discounts. For example:
- Using a student exchange program and after that getting an excellence scholarship in your college in Bolivia to get discounts in both tuition and living costs.
- Using an exchange program and after that working for the college in which you are studying, getting discounts in tuition and also get an extra salary in some cases to support your living expenses.
- Apply to the universities that have the best scholarship programs, these ones will let you save around 80% and in some cases 100% of the tuition.
- Living with some relatives here in Bolivia to lower your housing expenses and also getting an excellence scholarship in college to lower your tuition costs.
They’re many strategies you can use to lower the total cost for your bachelor’s degree here. Remember that in Bolivia exist scholarship programs, student exchange programs, University job’s programs, etcetera as in almost any other country.
Warning: Bolivian colleges are well-known to have a bad quality education
You may not be aware of this but Bolivia is well-known for having one of the worst academic experiences in all over the world. In the international rankings, our best colleges have really poor ratings. UMSA, UMSS and other similar public colleges here are in the 2,000 to 5,000 position of the best universities in the world.
It’s the same story for private colleges. The best ones available in Bolivia are around the 2,500 position of the best colleges’ worldwide rankings. This without mentioning that many other Bolivian private colleges don’t even appear in these rankings.
Also you should know that the bachelor’s degree that you’ll get here in Bolivia, almost never will be a valid degree for the first world.
Beyond student exchange programs, it’s very unlikely to see students from first world countries, like the US or European countries, studying here in Bolivia. This is mostly due to the poor educational services our universities normally have to offer.
What we instead see here is almost only students from other countries of South America, like Brazil, Argentina, Peru, etcetera, coming to study here for some careers like:
- Some engineering careers
- Managing and Laws
We also have seen some students coming from Asia and Africa, because compared to their source countries, colleges here have a better quality and also are relatively cheaper.
In this note you have known every detail about how much it costs to study in Bolivia, as either a Bolivian or a foreign student. You have seen that the total cost of getting a bachelor’s degree of 4.5 years here as a Bolivian will be from $10,000 to $40,000 in the majority of cases. As a foreign student, it will cost about $50,000 without discounts, but with discounts it can go down to $35,000.
You also have realized that students from overseas will always need to pay tuition costs, no matter whether the college is public or private, but you also have the possibility of getting huge discounts with different types of scholarships, student exchange programs, working for the university, etcetera. You’ll get in these cases from 50% to 80% less costs on your tuition and living expenses.
Even more, you’ve seen that the total cost of getting a degree here in Bolivia can be divided into 4 components: the tuition costs; the room and board costs; the extra fees and other living expenses. And that tuition cost will represent only about 16% of the total cost of getting a degree here. Additionally, you have seen that tuition costs vary a lot depending on the quality of the university.
You also have learned that Bolivia has one of the cheapest bachelor’s degree programs, but also the education you’ll get here is going to be one of the worst around the world, and mostly only South American and some Asian and African students come here in order to study medicine, some engineering careers and some social careers.
We hope this information has helped you, and if you want to know how much it really costs to live in Bolivia, including food, apparel, housing, entertainment expenses, etcetera, with all the numbers and details, visit our dedicated guide on this topic: The cost of living in Bolivia, all the details you need to know.
BolivianExperts.com, information about how to live, work, invest and travel in Bolivia.