Students studying a full-time course load (30 units per semester) pay no fees in Estonia. If a student falls below 100% study, fees are charged per unit of study. Charges per unit are normally 50 €, but in arts, medicine, dentistry and veterinary the charge is 100 € per unit. Private institutions, part-time students and students studying in languages other than Estonian, are subject to an unregulated fee structure. Tuition fees for programmes in English range from 1,000 to 7,500 €, or 11,000 € for medical studies. EU students pay the same fees as Estonian students, but non-EU foreign students can expect to generally pay a higher fee-rate than Estonian or EU students.
Total living costs for a student range from 300 to 550 € a month, depending on the type of accommodation chosen. Some universities have student accommodation costing 80 to 190 € a month. Private flats cost 100 to 550 € a month depending on whether they are shared, and their size. Internet and cable television costs are about 13 € a month. Public transport is free in some cities, and student passes in others cost around 9 € a month. Movie tickets are around 5 €, theatre tickets 12-18 € and fitness clubs at universities around 30 € a month. An inexpensive restaurant meal costs around 5 €. A cappuccino is 2 € and a beer 2.3 €. A loaf of bread is 0.7 € and a litre of milk 0.65 €. Meat is 5-6 € a kilo and a kilo of cheese is 7 €. A dozen eggs are 1.5 €. Total monthly food costs are estimated at 200-250 €.
The state has a new grant system based on need which began in 2014. The grant is worth 75 to 220 € per month for ten months of the year, based primarily on the student’s and/or family income. There are also merit grants of 56 to 84 € a month received by 17% of all students. However these merit grants are being phased-out under the new needs-based system but they may ultimately be replaced with a system based on academic results in priority areas of study. There are tax benefits for parents based on the age and marital status of the student. There are no family allowances in Estonia.
The Estonian government issues a number of scholarships under various bilateral agreements and reciprocal arrangements with other countries. These countries include most EU nations, plus Azerbaijan, China, Switzerland and Turkey. These are for a maximum of one academic year, so cannot be used to obtain a degree. Fees are not included in the scholarship. Similar scholarships are available for summer programmes in Estonian HEIs. Most private and university scholarships available to international students studying abroad can be used to study at the appropriate levels in Estonian HEIs.
The European Social Fund provides scholarships for Master’s degrees taught in languages other than Estonian. These scholarships provide a stipend of 288 € a month. Fees and travel expenses are not covered by the scholarship. Students must remain substantially in Estonia for the duration of the programme and achieve a sufficient grade level in the first year to be allowed to continue. The universities control the allocation of these scholarships. There is a Compatriot’s programmes for young Estonians who have lived outside Estonia for 10 years or more to return to Estonia to study. Estonia participates in the European Erasmus Mundus programme for advanced study at Master’s and Doctoral levels.
Full-time students can apply for state supported loans. Students must be studying for more than nine months. Loans are a for a maximum of 1,920 € a year.
All types of international students require no additional permits to work in Estonia. EU citizens may work freely under the freedom of movement provisions of the European Union and may stay an additional six months after completion of their studies to look for work. Minimum pay rates are 355 € a month and the average income is 930 € a month for full-time work. Fluency in Estonian is required for most jobs but there are also some opportunities to work in English or other European languages.