I lived in the States, where I graduated high school, and moved to Ecuador (my parents’ country) to go to college. The private universities here range from $1000 to $2000 per semester, only tuition. NO ONE BUYS BOOKS- there are cyber cafes/copy centers everywhere, and the prices go for 2 to 10 dollars, depending on the number of pages of the book. For example, a calculus book in the States costs $90; here in Ecuador, the same book (copy) is $3.99 or something. There’s none of that copyright infringement crap. Students don’t live on campus; most live with their parents or rent an apartment ($100-200 a month) or house ($200-400). There are some “states universities”, meaning government funded, meaning free (well, in theory, because there is $6 matriculation fee.. but that’s pretty close to free!) Those are the best universities since the government mandates all these entrance tests (think of it like taking a really hard SAT), and then, based on your score, they decide whether or not to let you apply for a certain career. For example, test A is worth 1000 points. Test A is general: language, math, etc. You HAVE to get at least 800 points to be able to apply for a career in medicine or education, and at least 750 for the economy fields, and 700 for law, etc. If you get less than 550, you don’t apply for any career. Those people usually end up going to paid universities. Now let’s say there are 501 people (including you) who want to apply for medicine, but the university only has space for 500 people, you could STILL not get in, since the other 500 people could have a score of 900 and you have a score of 899. Now lets say you DO get in, so you have a spot. Now you have to take ANOTHER exam showing that you know something about medicine. This new test is very specific, unlike test A. Again, same process as above, the higher scoring people get to directly enroll in first year, and the rest go to “leveling”.. meaning you go to college, but not to first year. You go basically to “catch up” for a year and learn the basics of medicine. If you pass the “leveling”, THEN you go to first year. If not, you have to take test A again— redo everything. In order to graduate, besides credits, you have to complete 320 hours of community service, and after graduation, the government requires you to work IN THE COUNTRY for at least 2 years (private or public sector, doesn’t matter.) This is how the students pay their debt to the state. It’s very competitive ‘cause the government only wants people who will value their education and actually work. It’s not like the US, where you dick around for 2-3 years before you choose a major. Here, most kids graduate high school knowing what they want to be in life. I was lucky enough to be accepted, and I’m currently studying accounting. I live with my parents, so I don’t pay rent or food. My only expenses (in two months)have been the book copies, bus fare, snacks, and the matriculation fee, so about $100. Yes, it’s a long, tedious process. A major pain in the ass, really. But at least once I (hopefully) graduate, I won’t be thousands of dollars in debt. So, high schoolers, start learning Spanish! OH, and BTW, the city I live in, Cuenca, is now full of American retirees. I’ve met some lovely elderly people from Tennessee to Ohio to Nevada (people I would’ve never met while living in NYC.) They absolutely love it here. If you’re 30-55, Ecuador is a great place to travel. If you’re under 30 and over 55, then it’s a great place to live -you dollar will really stretch. Why shouldn’t you live in Ecuador if you’re 30-55? SALARIES. Minimum wage is $320 a month. So what you do is, come to Ecuador, study for free, graduate, go back to the States, validate your degree, work hard earning well, retire rich in Ecuador. You’re welcome.