Study in Japan for Free via Scholarships and Other Alternatives

Many dream to study in Japan but many are also hindered by the financial burdens that this choice might bring. But fear not! There are various scholarships available as the country values education highly. There are also other ways to reduce your costs other than scholarships.

Why Japan?

Educational opportunities in the country of Japan are abounding. Known for its leading universities in Asian rankings as well as global rankings, Japan leads groundbreaking innovations in various fields. The country efficiently utilizes such developments and materializes them for economic purposes. This could be one of the reasons why their economy remains robust. Inevitably, with the onset of globalization, foreign students are drawn to seek benefits from the excellent educational system. From the conduciveness of studying and the gains after graduation, it is certain that studying in the country has a lot to offer. However, there are some aspects that might be considered before pursuing the track, especially the cost.

Save on tuition costs via Scholarship grants

Nowadays, nothing is free. Everything has a price depending upon its value. It would be misleading to speak about studying in Japan for free because definitely, it is not. From tuition fees to other expenses including accommodation, food, school supplies, and other academic-related matters, it is undeniable that education, despite being a right, can be sometimes for the privileged. Not to mention the relatively higher cost of living in Japan, so one may find that studying in the country would be financially problematic.

However, the full picture would not be provided without discussing scholarships and other alternatives that would alleviate the expenses - almost to none if you take on the challenge.

There are different scholarship grants offered not only by the Japanese government but also by various non-government organizations for foreign students. Furthermore, how you strategize your lifestyle in Japan will contribute to alleviating the expenses. Factors such as accommodation, food, transport, and extra expenses can be modified through alternatives, creating huge room for savings.           

To save on tuition costs, apply for scholarship programs offered by the Japanese government and other organizations. One of the notable programs is the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science, and Technology, or MEXT scholarship that provides financial assistance to various levels of students. Japan Student Services Organization or JASSO offers wide-ranging programs as well from financing international students for short-term study to stipends for full-term students. You can find previous in-depth articles about scholarships here:

Requirements to get a Scholarship to Study in Japan

Scholarship Programs Tailored to Help International Students in Japan

Also, pursuing studies in Japan isn’t limited to university or postgraduate education. Students can benefit as well from Japanese language schools and other short-term studies. For instance, a typical language school in Japan can offer a lower tuition fee than attending a university but guarantees an efficient and valuable asset in the long run. Short-term studies during university break are cheaper as compared to other studying plans in Japan. Students under these short-term studies are given a comprehensive education in 1 to 2 months.

Homestay and other alternatives

Accommodation in Japan is one of the major parts of the high cost of living in the country. In addition to its relative status with other Asian countries in terms of cost of living, it is also among the highest around the world. Obviously, no one is exempt from it. Students often find themselves paying a large amount for an average unit. However, there are other alternatives to consider regarding accommodation.          

Have you ever heard about homestay? A homestay is a form of accommodation in other countries spent in the home of a local family. Relative to different forms of accommodation, homestay is cheaper than renting an apartment, staying in a hotel or living in a student dorm.  The costs provided for homestay cover not only the rental but also the expenses on utilities and meals.

Also, this kind of accommodation offers other benefits aside from its cheaper rates. Homestays can be short-term or long-term, weekends or even just for the days that you need an accommodation to take university exams. It can also help you develop your Japanese skills. Since the set up would be living with a local Japanese family, you can learn about the way of life in Japan and educate yourself with the culture.

You can also save on rent by not living in a major city. While you may have dreamed about living in Tokyo, note that it’s also one of the most expensive cities in the world. Since you’re going to be in Japan, take the extra step and experience the real local life and culture in a midsize or small city!

For transportation, Japan has everything to offer. Multitudes of buses, trains, and taxis run throughout cities in the country, giving transportation services to the public. Generally, Japanese people ride on either buses or trains during the day-time. During the night, taxis now offer services for higher fares, since the services of the former two are done for the day.

On average, using the train multiple times a day costs ¥1,000, of course depending on where you are going. While the bus and taxi fare, in Kyoto for example, costs ¥200 and ¥600 (base fare) per ride respectively. For a student with limited allowance, this could be costly. But besides taking care not to miss the last train, using other modes of transportation would definitely be more sustainable and environmentally friendly such as biking or walking. Using bikes in Japan is widely accepted as an alternative to transportation. You can rent bicycles daily, weekly, or monthly, or just buy one for the time you will be in Japan (make sure to register it correctly). This is an economical cost as compared to spending much on other modes for a long time.

※ Kyoto Station, "Taxis in Kyoto" 

Since meals can be covered in most homestays, food expenses may not cover huge amounts on your daily, weekly, or monthly allowance. Yet, you might want to eat other food aside from what’s on the table, or opt out of homestays altogether. Less than ¥1000 food expenses per day can be found in supermarkets, convenience stores, and fast-food chains. Ready-served meals such as bento boxes are offered in convenience stores and supermarkets starting around as low as ¥200. Also, there are other options to be explored such as noodles, sandwiches, and rice balls which may cost similar ranges as well. Fast food dining, on the other hand, may depend upon the chain. It is typical to have a meal in fast food restaurants for ¥500- ¥800.  

Another tip for living a student life in Japan would be part-time jobs. Although there are some restrictions provided within the student visa such as 28-hour per week work time, this could still provide a generous salary. Part-time jobs can give you good hourly rates depending upon the schedule and the type of the job. Working students in this kind of setup could enjoy an advantageous position especially if they are the Japanese language proficient.



See? Despite having expensive costs, studying in Japan is possible after all. Keeping in mind these reminders and tips could give you the upper hand in dealing with expenses. In addition, these alternatives may give you gains on other aspects of your life in the country. From learning the fundamental essence of living in Japan to mastering the must-finds of affordable food and experiences, it is certain that as you finish your studies in the country, you won’t be a newbie or broke.

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