Your best bet when looking for a bassoon is to have an experienced professional bassoonist (that has nothing to gain by the sale) help you pick out a bassoon that is right for you.
Your quality control statement is a bit naive. The most popular and sought after brand is usually considered Heckel, a German manufacturer. Basically it has nothing to do with where the instrument comes from as much as who specifically the maker is. One can't speak broadly about Eurpoean makers or even German makers because there are quite a few, some are typically better than others.
If you're looking to not spend all that much but get a quality instrument that you can take all the way through college and possibly into the professional world, look at the following models, not in any particular order:
Fox 240 or 220
Moosmann 100 or 150
Puchner 2000 (not sure how the price compares)
In general expect to spend at least $4000 (if you're lucky!) for something of really long term value. You can find other solutions that can get you by, of course, but they're generally not as popular. A competent bassoonist should be able to fill in more details. There are good student level bassoons that are less expensive than this, but I don't want to detail those. In general I think the three manufacturers listed above are the only ones I'd suggest getting a less expensive instrument from as well.
You'll find most others to be less popular with professional or semi-professional players although you will occasionally run across others. In what I expect is your price range other brands don't offer the same quality as the three that I mentioned although you'll probably hear differing opinions on that. Above your price range (above the $12,000 mark) you can find great bassoons by other makers such as Yamaha, Leitzinger, Bell, Wolf, Mollenhauer, Heckel, the ones listed above and probably others I've forgotten.
As far as how you pay for it, most places, especially if you buy used, want you to pay for the whole thing up front, so you (meaning, your parents) will likely need to take out a loan depending on how much money they have laying around. That's just something to take up with your bank or financial consultant if your family has such a thing. Some of the bigger resellers may have a finance plan, but I'd think you'd get a better deal with a line of credit or something through your bank. Talk to your parents about these things.
M.M.A., D.M.A. University of Illinois at Urbana/Champaign: B.Mus. Lawrence University
Bassoon professor at University of Wisconsin Eau-Claire
Maker of the Little-Jake electric bassoon pickup and Weasel bassoon reeds