American Institutions of higher learning have always been able to charge a premium price for tuition because a good education meant a good job.

In today’s American economy however, not so much. So why wouldn’t students look for a better deal elsewhere? Behold the power of the free market.

Renee Schoof of The Seattle Times reports.

U.S. college students lured by lower costs to Canada, U.K.

WASHINGTON — More American teenagers are thinking about picking up a passport and heading abroad for their college years as a way of attending a top-rated school at a lower cost, Canadian and British college recruiters say.

More than 10,000 Americans are earning graduate and undergraduate degrees in Canada, and 15,000 are pursuing degrees in the United Kingdom. Even with extra fees for international students, colleges and universities outside the United States, in many cases, cost less than the tuition at private colleges or the out-of-state charges at public universities.

In some places, American student interest has gone up as tuition rates rise here nationwide and state spending for higher education declines. The University of British Columbia, for example, reports a 33 percent growth in U.S. applications since 2008.

Because of California’s “sagging economy” and cutbacks in public aid to higher education, “I am encouraging my students to look beyond our state’s borders, and that includes other countries, such as Canada,” said Jill Montbriand, a counselor at Rio Americano High School in Sacramento.

Annual tuition costs for international students in Canada ranged from about $14,000 to $26,000 last year, according to the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada.

The average tuition last year at an American public university was nearly $21,000 for out-of-state students and almost $28,000 at a private four-year school, according to the College Board.