Belgium is a fantastically charming country, that simply conquers your heart. Whether you’re just a visitor or an international student, Belgium, with its nice landscapes, breathtaking architecture, and highly multicultural environment, makes you feel truly at home.
Still, as a student here, you can benefit from excellent higher education, but what are the exact prices and costs you should expect in this wonderful country of waffles and chocolate?
1. University tuition fees in Belgium
Before we continue, you should know that Belgium is divided into three regions: the Brussels – Capital Region, the Flemish Region, and the Walloon Region.
We held this small geography lesson, because it is vital in understanding the way Belgian universities charge their tuition fees.
In the universities from Walloon, non-EU students have to pay specific tuition fees, set by ARES (Academy of Research and Higher Education). Still, these tuitions can’t be more than five times the amount the EU students have to pay.
For the Flemish Region, students from the EU and non-EU have to pay different tuition fees, as well, but they all start from 906 EUR/year. Although this sum is set for EU students, the tuition fees for non-EU students can only grow, depending on what the organisations decide.
But, rest assured that Belgian universities are fair when they calculate the tuition. If it’s higher, it may be because of the student’s income, the study programme they chose, or whether they are eligible for a grant or scholarship.
Some examples of tuition fees in Belgium are:
- KU Leuven – the tuition fee can range from 906 EUR/year to 4.000 EUR/year;
- Vlerick Business School – the tuition fee on some courses is around 15.200 EUR/year;
- Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB) – average tuition fees are between 906 and 1,450 EUR/year;
- University of Liége - the tuition fee for EU students is of 906 EUR/year, and for non-EU students it can range from 2,400 EUR to 4,175 EUR/year.
2. Living costs in Belgium
Living costs in Belgium vary slightly, depending on the city you live in.
The highest amounts of your budget would be spent on accommodation, and, if you decide to eat mostly at restaurants, you should be aware that some of them can be pretty expensive. So, go live like a student and survive only on noodles and coffee!
Still, in the spirit of fairness, you should know that the average living costs in some Belgian student cities are:
- Antwerp: between 780 and 1,230 EUR;
- Brussels: between 890 and 1,300 EUR;
- Gent: between 750 and 1,200 EUR/year;
- Leuven: around 800 and 1,300 EUR/year;
- Liege: around 700 and 1,100 EUR/year.
Accommodation in Belgium
Prices for accommodation are in line with the international average when it comes to student halls of residence, but, when it comes to the private sector, the discussion (and sums) changes a bit.
You have three options when it comes to finding an accommodation in Belgium:
- University halls of residence – a room in a student campus can be around 200-400 EUR/month;
- In the private sector, on average, a room for a student can be around 500 EUR/month;
- And, if you’re a shy person, you should know that renting an apartment or studio can take you at around 600-700 EUR/month.
Also, don’t forget the utility bills! Electricity, water, internet, etc. would be another 150 EUR/month.
Food costs in Belgium
Buying from the supermarket and cooking at home is the cheapest option when it comes to food costs. On average, you would spend around 300 EUR/month for your groceries, if you remember that some of the cheapest supermarkets in Belgium: Lidl, Aldi, and Colruyt.
However, eating out once in a while is a nice experience, and, in Belgium is really worth it. A meal in a reasonable restaurant is between 8 and 15 EUR, and even less in Antwerp, for example.
With prices between 4 and 16 EUR, you can eat soups, salads, platters of cheese and cold meats, and patisserie at Le Pain Quotidien restaurant chain.
And, if you like seafood, you should be thrilled to hear about La Mer du Nord / De Nordsee, serving croquettes aux crevettes, escargots de mer (whelks), fish soup, pickled herring, smoked mackerel and salmon, hot dishes of crab and scallops, all at about 8-10 EUR.
Transportation in Belgium
The easiest, and also cheapest, ways to travel while living in Belgium are trains and buses. That’s why you should know that you can buy:
- A monthly public transportation pass for students younger than 25 years old, that costs 50 EUR/year;
- A forty-minute trip from Ghent to Brussels that costs 7.50 EUR, because the train network in Belgium is one of the best in Europe!
Also, heads up! Taxi rides can be around 25 EUR for inner-city trips.
Here are a few examples of other expenses while living in Belgium:
- Books: 35 - 50 EUR/month
- Entertainment: 50 EUR/month
- Insurance/ health care: 20-30 EUR/month
Fun fact: if you want to buy second-hand books, you can look for announcement boards on your campus, as some students sell their books for good prices. You can also check Stubooks.be, an online platform where students buy and sell their books second hand (available in Dutch only).
3. Scholarships in Belgium
Scholarships for international students in Belgium are offered by some universities, the government, Academy of Research and Higher Education, and other Belgian agencies or organisations.
Some examples of scholarships are:
- Master Mind Scholarships provided by the government of Flanders
- ARES Scholarships in Belgium – for students coming from developing countries
- Erasmus Mundus Scholarships for International Students.
See detailed list of scholarship opportunities in Belgium.