In 2014, Germany’s 16 states put an end to tuition fees for undergraduate students at all state-owned German universities. This means that presently, both local and foreign undergraduates at public universities in Germany can study for free, with just a small fee to cover administration and other expenses each semester.
This good fortune may not last, however. In autumn 2017 the south-west state of Baden-Württemberg reinstated tuition fees for non-EU candidates, and it is likely other states will follow suit in years to come. Non-EU students in Baden-Württemberg are now required to pay tuition fees of €1,500 (around US$1,697) each semester, or €3,000 (around US$3,395) each year.
For the time being, the low fees certainly help to make studying in Germany an enticing option for prospective students, and the nation is constantly ranked as one of the most famous destinations for international students in the world.
Cost of living in Germany
While a lot of students can study in Germany for free, living costs are inescapable. The cost of living in Germany is higher in some areas than others – Munich, for instance, is considered the costliest German city to live in. The average monthly living expenses in Germany for a student are approximately €850 (~US$962).
Rent will be your largest monthly expense, though this is cheaper if you live in a shared flat (average rent of €280/~US$340 per month) or a student hall of residence (€234/~US$290 per month).
Based on data gotten from DAAD, other average monthly expenses are given below:
- €168 (~US$205) for food
- €42 (~US$52) for clothes
- €94 (~US$115) for transport
- €31 (~US$38) for telephone, internet and TV license
- €20 (~US$25) for work/study materials
- €61 (~US$75) for leisure activities
To find living costs for specific cities in Germany (and weigh against them to the average expenses in your home city), Numbeo is a useful tool.
You won’t require a visa to study in Germany if you’re an EU citizen or citizen of Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway or Switzerland. Otherwise, you will have to pay €75 (~US$85) for your student visa, but there are also fee discounts or waivers for Schengen visas. So as to fulfill the visa requirements, you will be required to show evidence that you have, or have access to, around € 10,236 (~US$11,582) per year.
You will also require health insurance as a pre-condition of enrolling at a German university. If you’re a resident of a nation within the EU or EEA, there should exist a social security agreement between your nation and Germany. This means that if you possess public health insurance, you should be covered in Germany also. If your health insurance is not valid in Germany, you will have to pay around €80 (~US$97) each month to cover this.
Undergraduate costs to study in Germany
Although you can school for free at state-owned German universities as an undergraduate, there is a charge every semester for registration, confirmation and administration. This is usually no more than €250 (~US$290) each semester but varies per university.
Most universities in Germany are public. Private institutions are generally reliant on tuition fees for their funding (though some also obtain support from foundations), and set their own fees, which can be anything up to and more than €20,000 a year (~US$24,400).
Usually, this aid is for those not up to 30 years old (under 35 if you’re studying for a master’s program), but exceptions can be made based on circumstance. The BAföG is typically split in two, with 50% taking the form of a government grant and the other half being an interest-free loan that has to be paid back in portions when the maximum period of aid expires.
Master’s and postgraduate costs to study in Germany
Master’s programs at German universities are typically free if they are classified as “consecutive” – i.e. following directly on from a related bachelor’s program obtained in Germany. Again, there is a small charge each semester for registration, confirmation, and administration.
Tuition fees for “non-consecutive” master’s programs, for those who have obtained their bachelor’s degree outside Germany, vary between universities and maybe about €20,000 (~US$24,400) each year at public institutions and up to €30,000 (~US$36,600) at privately-owned German universities.
At Doctorate (Ph.D.) level, tuition is once again free at all universities in Germany – for the first six semesters minimum. As at all levels of study, Ph.D. candidates are also expected to make a semester payment of no more than €250 or thereabout for administration and other expenses.
Scholarships to study in Germany
The German Academic Exchange Service, also known as the DAAD (Deutscher Akademischer Austausch Dienst), offers assistance for German and foreign students to gain funding to reside and study in Germany for free or at a cheaper cost.
DAAD scholarship awards to study in Germany are provided to German and international students of all levels, and also academics and researchers. To find related scholarship awards to study in Germany, you can search based on keywords, study level, the nation of origin, and subject.
Another valuable resource is the Federal Ministry of Education and Research or BMBF (Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung), which has a site committed to providing information on scholarship awards to study in Germany.
You can also read through our own listing of Scholarships to Study in Germany, which is regularly updated.
Figures contained in this article are averages. The exact amount you pay will vary depending on the duration of your program, your level of study, the German state (Länder) you reside in, and whether your university is private or state-owned.
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