MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Talk of which university to attend is a common conversation in the Mulholland household.

“I have UNI, River Falls and Eau Claire,” Hannah Mulholland said.

Her brother and sister both left school roughly $30,000 in debt. That weighs on her mind, and her mom’s.

“We were able to help them a little bit, but you can’t do everything,” Nancy Mulholland said. “It’s affecting them in terms of what they’re able to do now.”

The soon-to-be high school senior was surprised to learn of a debt-free university in Germany, where she will be an exchange student this year.

The country offers all students free college tuition. Hannah attended the Twin Cities German Immersion School through seventh grade. Ann Jurewicz is the director.

“[Germany is] very interested in attracting intellectual capital, so as long as you have a certain GPA and have completed your high school diploma, you can apply to a German university and get in there,” Jurewicz said.

She says nearly 5,000 Americans are taking advantage of taking classes in Germany.

“This is an opportunity for them to have an experience abroad and get a university degree and leave without any debt,” Jurewicz said.

The classes are taught in English, but not every major will translate in the United States — and that’s something Hannah feels will ultimately make the decision for her.

“It’s definitely a really good option to leave debt-free, but it’s hard because the degrees would not necessarily transfer over here,” Hannah said.

Jurewicz says some majors that do translate are business, politics and entrepreneurship. Ones that do not are medicine, law and teaching.

And it is not totally free; students pay an administrative fee which is generally a few hundred dollars a semester, along with health insurance.

They also take care of their own housing and travel costs.

Jennifer Mayerle