Ranked as the most affordable place to live in the world, India is strategically positioned as one of the ideal countries for international students to get a degree. Students have so much more to experience when studying in India owing to its rich history and distinct qualities, from its vibrant culture to the extensive cuisine and just their general way of life. In this article, we will be looking at the different options to study in India for free.

Each year, over 5,000 international students have packed up their bags and moved to India to study, and experience first-hand what the country has to offer. Aside from the wonderful vistas, you will also have the chance to enjoy their various festivals, great dining experiences, and myriad tourist spots.

India has demonstrated a rapid rise in the quality of its overall education, as well as in the number of good universities and corresponding facilities available in recent years. International students who study in India can pay anywhere from $300 to $4,000 per semester depending on the university of their choice. For the quality of education, this is a pretty good bargain, especially when considering that the average cost of living in the country is way low compared to other countries. On average, an international student can expect to spend around $250 per semester on their rent and utility bills.

English is widely spoken in India. It is considered one of the country’s official languages alongside Hindi. Thus, international students won’t have to bother learning another language if they plan to study in the country. Learning some common Hindi phrases won’t hurt, however, especially as you will have to mingle with the locals throughout your everyday life in India.

One sure-fire way to drastically decrease your expenses is by applying for a scholarship. Some scholarship packages even make it possible for you to study totally for free in India, depending on the type of scholarship that you may be qualified to avail in the country.

Can International Students Study in India for Free?

Yes, international students can study in India for free due to several reasons. First, the tuition fees that are charged by institutions in India offer low tuition for international students, and the living fees (accommodation and food) are pretty cheap when you compare to the living costs of the United States.

Not only that, but several institutions in India offer scholarship programs that international students can apply for, and you can always apply for work virtually since the pay rate through virtual platforms such as Upwork and Fiverr can cover your living expenses in India.

Do Universities in India Charge Free Tuition?

Institutions in India do not practice a free tuition policy for international students, but the tuition fees are cheap, which makes it pretty close to being a free tuition university. Since Indian Rupees (currency in India) are exchanged at a higher rate than most currencies, you can study in India even with your small monthly income.

Check Also: Available Programs for International Students

Study in India for Free

1. Apply for Scholarships

The best way to study in India for free is to get scholarships. Here’s the list of scholarships that you might be qualified for.

  • General Cultural Scholarship Scheme (GCSS)

This scholarship grant aims to provide citizens from certain countries with a chance to study in India. Qualified applicants may avail of undergraduate or postgraduate degrees in any Indian university, however, certain medical studies such as MBBS, BDS, or Ph.D. are not included.

Applicants must be able to speak and understand English since this will be the primary medium of instruction throughout the country. Benefits include a free tuition fee, along with other benefits such as a monthly expense allowance, accommodation allowance, medical benefits, and thesis and dissertation allowance for certain applicants.

  • Cultural Exchange Programme

Offered by the Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR), the Cultural Exchange Programme was developed in order to strengthen and promote the cultural ties between India and other countries. This allows the country to promote diversity and unity within its universities.

  • Indira Gandhi Institute of Development Research (IGIDR) Scholarship

The Indira Gandhi Institute of Development Research Scholarship is offered by the Reserve Bank of India in hopes of developing valuable research to help with certain development issues. This research institute is perfect for qualified students who wish to study in India for free, however, it is only open for graduate, postgraduate, and MPhil studies.

Again, all applicants are required to be able to understand and converse in fluent English. This is only open to applicants from select Asian countries such as Afghanistan, Bhutan, Cambodia, Indonesia, Maldives, Myanmar, Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam.

Benefits include free tuition fees and accommodation, as well as the student’s allowance, books, medical benefits, and airfare to and from India.

2. Apply to Universities in India

With over 17,500 universities to choose from, India is certainly one of the leading Asian countries capable of offering quality education. There’s a myriad of top universities located all over the country, each one of which boasts of top-notch amenities and excellent educational programs.

Thousands of international students have already made the leap and personally experienced the advantages of studying in India. Below are some of the best universities vying for your consideration to become your future Alma mater:

  • Indian Institute of Science, Bengaluru
  • Jamia Islamia University
  • Indian Institute of Technology Delhi
  • Jadavpur University
  • University of Hyderabad
  • Indian Institute of Space Science and Technology

It is worth noting, however, that international students are strictly not allowed to work part-time while studying in the country. You can only apply for internships as part of your studies, or pieces of training during the duration of your stay in India.

Studying in India for free continues to rank among the top of every international student’s list. The low tuition fees, low cost of living, and affordable food make it very enticing for many students to come; not to mention the wonderful diversity and natural beauty that the country has to offer. It really isn’t a wonder why the country is first on every student and tourist’s list. Go and see for yourself how beautiful India can be.

3. Get a Part-Time Job Online

Although India doesn’t allow students to work part-time, you can work online. Because of the cheap tuition fee, if you don’t get scholarships, you can just work online using platforms such as Upwork and Fiverr. This should be more than enough to help you afford your studies in India.


I hope that this article on how to study in India for free was helpful. Make sure to also check out the Available Programs for International Students!