How to Study in Portugal for Free (9 Steps)

Portugal is located in the south of Europe. The small country bordering Spain has been on the radar of international students as a top-notch higher education destination for some decades. The student who wants to become a graduate of one of Portugal’s universities has an opportunity not only to spend years studying in prestigious institutions but also embrace the bright and vibrant culture around. No matter what the goal is, there is a high chance that you will enjoy your time in this European country greatly. In this article, we will be looking at ways to study for free in Portugal.

Helpful Posts

Related Scholarships

Steps to Study in Portugal for Free

1. Come Up with an Eye-Catching Application

One of the main issues prospective students collide with is the lack of a decent application. Quite often the process of preparing the documentation begins too late, and in the haste of last-minute preparation, the applicant fails to craft an application that showcases all of their talents.

Keep in mind that the staff of the Portuguese universities you have chosen does not know you; therefore, their judgment of your abilities will be made exclusively based on the paperwork you will have provided. Pay extreme attention to every single detail: improve your GPA scores, attend any additional classes and competitions, take a language proficiency examination. Having a great application is the right start on studying in Portugal for free. Every little detail matters.

2. Do Not Wait to Get Started

To avoid confusion, it is recommended that you begin to prepare for the submission process as early as you can. Utilize the last year of school to make sure you have all the necessary elements of a successful application prepared and ready. The earlier you start preparing, the more time you will have to organize everything. Moreover, in case you will not be happy with the results of any of the significant examinations, you may have time to take them another time before you will have to submit the paperwork.

3. Get Familiar with the Scholarships the Universities in Portugal Can Offer

Most Portuguese universities provide financial aid to their students. It is worth checking out the available information and enquiring from the staff directly. Some of the universities provide specialized scholarships such as the Doctoral Degree Scholarship Program of the University of Lisbon (more information available here). Other higher education institutions work together with third-party organisations to provide high-quality monetary support. For example, NOVA University offers several third-party scholarships to its students. Getting these scholarships from Portuguese universities is one way to study in Portugal for free.

4. Enquire About a Local Scholarship

While not every country has such a program, it is a good idea to check if your local government provides support to its citizens who seek higher education elsewhere. Getting scholarships from your local government can be a way that you can study for free in Portugal. In the modern world, it is quite a common occasion to see administrations offering aid to the people in need, – Denmark, Norway, Canada have been doing this for years! – so your government may run its scholarships – and you may have a chance to receive one!

5. Make Sure to Apply for Financial Aid from External Sources

International scholarship programs such as Rotary International or CIEE Study Abroad programs have been helping the freshmen wannabes to overcome financial hurdles and attend the desired universities in Portugal for many years.

Each annum we see more and more graduates proudly departing from their universities with a degree obtaining of which has only been possible thanks to one of such organisations and its contribution towards the well-educated world of the future.

6. Look for Affordable Universities in Portugal

With an average tuition fee of $1,200 per annum, Portugal cannot be called an expensive country when it comes to the price of education. Local universities try to provide all the means necessary for the students of all backgrounds to be able to acquire their degree. The University of Lisbon provides a highly detailed list of fees and expenses that one may expect to pay.

However, the average tuition fees of one of the main universities shall not be viewed as the de facto cost. Attending affordable universities in Portugal can help you to study in Portugal for free combined with other ways in this article. If you find the fees to be too expensive, you can always take a look for other universities, which may be located a little bit further away from the major cities, and most of the institutions may provide better value. If you are interested, learn about the 8 Affordable Universities in Portugal.

7. Once Ready, Apply for Studies

Once you have picked a perfect school to apply to, submit your application. Keep in mind that it may take some time for the academic staff to receive and review your submission, so it is better to deal with it early. The procedure may differ depending on your country of origin, as additional visa checks and language examinations can take up extra time and effort. Also, keep checking your email, as you may receive additional information from the school after your request will have been already processed.

8. Lower Your Living Expenses

When it comes to the average living expenses in Portugal, the numbers range widely, depending on the region in question. The adventurer willing to come here to study can expect to spend anywhere from $1,000 to $2,000 per month. However, there are certain ways to decrease expenses.

You may choose to stay in university housing. While the quality of hostels and dormitories is not typically as impressive as that of a rented apartment, the decision to go with it may help you to shave a few hundred dollars off your monthly bill. Besides, you may find free Wi-Fi to be available in the dorm; something you might have to pay for in an apartment.

Living close to the educational institution is also a fantastic money-saver, as it allows you to avoid spending additional cash on public transport.

9. Get a Job for the Duration of Your Studies

According to the Official Website of Portuguese Immigration, nationals coming to the country to study in one of the local universities have a complete right to engage in financial activities and to work throughout the duration of their studies.

It is a fantastic opportunity for students to make some money and support their lifestyle while they are in a foreign country. It can also supplement things such as scholarships and attending affordable universities so that you can study in Portugal for free. Consider the opportunity to save some money, be able to rent a better-quality apartment, engage in a more varied number of activities.


I hope that this article was helpful. If you are interested, visit the Europe Scholarships Page.