How to Study in China for Free (12 Steps)

It was Mandela that said, “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world,” and that is one of the strategies the most populated country in the world, China, used to rapidly improve their country. Prior to 1978, the country was regarded as “the sleeping giant,” but due to its massive investment in the educational sector, and other areas, it has woken the sleeping giant.

This massive disruption has drawn the attention of lots of people, including students that want to learn in some of their best colleges. But, the cost of studying is still preventing some people from furthering their education in this country.

That’s why lots of countries including China offer scholarships, and other financial aid to assist their citizens and international students with their fees. So in this guide, you will be learning how to study in China for free, but first let’s see why you should study in this country.

Related Article: How to Get Free MBBS in China

Why Should I Study in China?

There are dozens of reasons why lots of students are trooping to China, and why you too should add this country as one of your top countries to study abroad. Here are some reasons to study in China;

Low Tuition 

The average tuition in China is between $2,500 to $10,000 according to, when you compare it with other countries like the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, or other western countries, you will see a lot of differences.

Rapid-growing Technology

You and I are seeing how China is disrupting the world through technology, and if you’re into tech, China should be one of your top choices, because you’ll be learning so many easy technological hacks to a lot of things.

Low Cost of Living

Yes, the Chinese have a very low cost of living, especially when compared to some other western countries, unlike some other countries, as a student, you don’t have to pay for the cost of electricity, water, gas, etc. Even if you do pay, it will be lower than $5 per month.

Chinese Cuisine

You’ll agree with me that the best place to get what you want is from the host, that is, if you want the best French Soupe à l’oignon it’s best prepared in France, and if you want the best Chinese Cuisine, it’s best prepared in China.

Learn New Language

If you’re an international student, this is an opportunity to add a new language to your skill. It won’t be easy, but it will be worth it.

Quick Employment

The Chinese have one of the lowest unemployment rates in the world, with a 3.7% unemployment rate, and it’s seen to reduce as time goes on.

Now we have seen why you should study in this country, let’s now go ahead to show you how to study in China for free.

How to Study in China for Free
How to Study in China for Free

Ways to Study in China for Free

1. Study Hard

One of the best ways to study for free in China or any other country is through scholarships, the best way to get any scholarship, especially merit-based scholarship is by consistent studying. You need to do the work for you to get the result.

There is a popular saying, “no work, no pay,” and it applies to your studies, if you don’t do the work, you won’t be paid, and the payment you’ll receive here are scholarships.

That doesn’t mean if you don’t have good grades, you can’t still get financial aid, but you probably won’t get the financial aid that will cover all your tuition and other expenses like accommodation, living expenses, books, and insurance.

2. Apply Early

There are lots and lots of benefits to applying early to any school in China, first, it helps you to get your decision letter on time, which lets you know if you were admitted on time. Also, it helps the admission board to feel you have a serious interest in their school, so they will even consider you more than someone that applies a few weeks before the deadline.

Most importantly, it increases your chances of receiving scholarships which will help you to study in China for free. You should know that these scholarships have deadlines and because you applied early enables you to easily enroll in them.

3. Receive Scholarships

Merit-based scholarships are one of the best ways – perhaps the best way – to study in China for free because you don’t need to apply for them in most colleges for you to be awarded this scholarship. These scholarships mostly arrive together with your admission letter, because the school will enroll you in all scholarships you’re eligible for.

As I mentioned earlier, studying hard is one of the ways to get this kind of scholarship, also when you are involved in some extracurricular activities like sports, volunteering, leadership positions, or even artwork, you have a higher chance of being awarded scholarships.

4. Apply for CSC Scholarship

The Chinese Government offers lots of scholarships to their citizens and international students around the world. Their CSC scholarship is categorized into 4 sections, which include;

  • Bilateral Program
  • University Program
  • Designated Scholarship Programs
  • Student Exchange Program

The CSC scholarship goes a very long way to cover part or all of your tuition fees, provides free accommodation, and also monthly stipends.

5. Apply for ASEAN-China Young Leaders Scholarship

The ASEAN-China Young Leaders Scholarship is another means to study in China for free because the entire tuition fee of the eligible candidates will be taken care of. Also, their accommodation and medical insurance are all covered.

6. Apply for College Scholarships

With the help of CGS (Chinese Government Scholarship), 289 colleges in China offer different kinds of scholarships to their students who focus on fields like;

  • Science
  • Engineering
  • Agriculture
  • Medicine
  • Economics
  • Legal Studies
  • Management
  • Education
  • History
  • Literature
  • Philosophy
  • Fine Arts

7. Apply for External Scholarships

External scholarships are provided by organizations, NGOs, and businesses, but not by the federal government or the school. There are many places you can find external scholarships, it could be from your religious organizations, foundations your parents are involved in, the workplace they are working at, etc.

You can also check out these resources for external scholarships; 

  • AAU Chinese Scholarship for graduating undergraduate seniors
  • Phi Sigma Iota – International Foreign Language Honor Society
  • Academy for International and Area Studies Scholars Program
  • Charlotte W. Newcombe Doctoral Dissertation Fellowship

And many others.

8. Apply for Scholarships from your Country

Some countries, especially developed countries, help their citizens to study in China for free. They provide financial aid in the form of scholarships. 

But, you should know that if you’re applying for financial aid from your government, they also have the requirements you have to meet, and their T&C, which might include returning to the country to work.

9. Apply for Affordable Colleges in Canada

Even if you don’t get to study completely for free in China, you can still apply to colleges that are easy to afford. You can get colleges whose tuitions are moderately low. For instance, the tuition fee for Bohai University, and Chengdu University are USD 2,000 and USD 2,200 respectively.

Also, these fees differ based on your program.

10. Work as a Student

China allows their students with valid residence permits to work-study no more than 8 hours per week, and these students will be paid according to local wage standards. So, you can decide to work an on-campus job or a part-time job as customer care, personal tutor, freelancer, dog walker, babysitter, etc.

11. Live on Budget

I know this might sound out of the topic, but this is one of the ways to manage your finances whether they are coming from scholarships, family, or work.

12. Take a Loan

This is not one of the best ways to study for free in China, I should warn you to only use this strategy as your last resort. Borrowing money comes with a lot of pressure, so make sure you have exalted all scholarships, family funding, or working options before concluding with this.

China offers loans up to the total fee, minus other financial aid received by their citizens, permanent residents, and international students. You can also take advantage of loan options from private organizations, like businesses.

Now we have shown you how to study in China for free, let’s talk a little bit about ways you can cut your expenses in China.

How to stay on Budget in China as a Student

According to, 74% of students told them they wished they had a better financial education before entering college, and that’s one of the things we want to help you with, in this section.

Cook Your Food

Cooking your meal goes a long way to save you lots of money when you compare it with eating outside always, and it’s even healthier to cook your meal too.

Reduce the Use of Credit Card

There are lots of debts you will get yourself into when you continue to use credit cards in school, instead, only use them when there is an emergency.

Shop at Second-hand Stores

You are a student, you don’t need to be going for expensive luxuries yet, there are lots of quality products you can find in these second-hand stores that you can pay very low for. 

Commute on Foot or Go Carpool

This is one of the ways to cut expenses as a student in China. If the grocery store is not far from you, you can trek to it, or you can join your neighbor in their car and go to school. This is even fun and helps you build relationships with others.


As you can see in this how to study in China for free, there are several ways you can study without paying a dime or paying a small fee. You just need to put in the work, and the result will follow.

How to Study in China for Free – FAQs

Who is Eligible for Free Education in China?

Anyone can study for free in China, whether you are a citizen, a permanent resident, or an international student.

Can International Students Study Free in China?

Yes, an international student can study for free in China, especially through fully-funded scholarships.

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