What Options Are There for Paying for Tuition in Japan? | Guidable - Your Guide to a Sustainable, Wellbeing-centred Life in Japan
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What Options Are There for Paying for Tuition in Japan?

By Brie Schmidt Apr 9, 2021

What options are available for paying tuition in Japan for students from abroad? This week, we answer this question! For more questions on moving to Japan, surviving daily life in Japan, and more, Guidable is here to help. Submit your own questions at the bottom of this post!

Question: What Options Are There for Paying for Tuition in Japan as a Foreign Student?

When it comes to studying in Japan, what options are available to help pay for tuition? I’ve heard of MEXT, but is that the only student scholarship available?


Japan is a popular destination for students looking to study abroad, with the number of international students reaching record numbers in recent years. But with annual tuition averaging anywhere between ¥800,000 and ¥1,500,000 (depending on the type of institution), universities in Japan can be tough to afford for many students.

Thankfully, there are several options to consider to help pay for tuition. Here are 3 strategies to use to lower the cost of studying in Japan:

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1. Explore a Variety of Scholarships

If you’ve already heard of MEXT, this is a great start. This is the scholarship offered to international students by the Japanese government. However, there are other options aside from MEXT. For example, the school you are looking to study at might offer its own scholarships and financial aid to students from abroad. For some short-term study students, JASSO may also offer a scholarship to fit your needs and background. And scholarships can also vary based on your nationality, what prefecture you’ll study in, and several other factors. You can find lists of current scholarships online such as here. When you’re ready to apply for your scholarships, be sure to read our tips here to make the most of your application.

One point to keep in mind while applying is that many scholarships and financial assistance programs require that you already reside in Japan. If you’re looking to relocate to Japan to study and feeling unsure of how to pay for tuition, remember that more options will open up to you after you’ve arrived in Japan.

2. Earn Money With a Part-Time Job

It’s very common for students in Japan to work at a baito, or part-time job, while enrolled in school. This can not only be a great way to help pay for tuition costs, but also allows for more networking and Japanese language practice. Some common baitos are jobs in convenience stores, izakayas, teaching, and more. Find a part-time job to help you budget studying in Japan here.

3. Choose Your School Wisely

If your goal is to simply study and experience life in Japan, you may want to consider choosing schools with lower tuition. National schools typically offer the lowest tuition, while public schools may be slightly higher. Private schools are often the most expensive, and tuition at private schools can vary widely depending on the type of school and programs they offer.

For many international students, the thought of studying in a big city like Tokyo or Osaka may be the ultimate dream, but universities in smaller cities and less populated prefectures often have lower tuition. A school’s location can also greatly impact the cost of living in general, such as the cost of housing and even food. To save the most on studying in Japan, then, consider cheaper schools in the countryside.

Looking for more information on applying to schools in Japan? Read this article next:

How to Apply to Japanese Universities