BUSINESS INSIDER: Brazil has tuition-free college — but it comes with a catch

Career College Central Summary:

  • When American politicians laud free college plans overseas, they tend to identify European countries, such as Germany or Sweden, as noteworthy examples.
  • Not as commonly discussed, Brazil also offers free college to its citizens, and its free colleges are actually more prestigious than the private institutions that charge tuition.
  • Brazil's public colleges, known as federal universities, offer tuition-free education to admitted students. However, the majority of students who are accepted into the free universities are predominantly middle-class or wealthy students, in essence the students who can already afford to pay for college.
  • “I would have preferred a public university, but the entrance exams are very competitive," Claudinei Mota, a Brazilian college student, told The New York Times in 2014. "Most spots go to private school graduates, who are better prepared.”
  • Millions of Brazilian students fight for spots at top-tier federal universities, but they are normally edged out by wealthy students whose families have the money to send them to a private high school.

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