The cost of studying at a university in Germany
This guide outlines the cost of fees, accommodation, lifestyle and financial assistance options if you are planning to study in Germany
How much does it cost to study in Germany? If you are interested in studying in Germany, one of the most important things to consider is how much everything is going to cost. This essential guide breaks down the cost of every aspect of university life to ensure that you have everything covered.
Note that prices and exchange rates are correct at the time of publication and may vary from those shown here.
Germany is one of just a handful of nations that offers free university education, along with Denmark, Norway, Finland and Sweden. Germany’s 16 states abolished tuition fees for undergraduate students at all public universities in 2014. Therefore, domestic and international students can study for free, paying just a small administration fee per semester.
However, since 2017 non-EU students have had to pay to study in the Baden-Wurttemberg area, which includes the universities of Freiburg, Heidelberg, Hohenheim, Karlsruhe, Konstanz, Mannhein, Stuttgart, Tübingen and Ulm. It costs €1,500 per semester for a first degree at these universities and €650 per semester for a second degree. There are exemptions for non-EU students who have gained a higher education entrance qualification in Germany, international students from Erasmus member states, students with permanent residency in Europe and refugees who have a right to stay in Germany. These fees are also not applicable to doctoral students.
There is a charge at all universities for enrolment, confirmation and administration, which is typically no more than €300 per semester, although each university is different.
The majority of universities are public. However, the few private ones can charge up to €30,000 per year for tuition fees for an undergraduate course and €40,000 per year for a master's degree.
Renting somewhere to live represents the largest portion of a students’ budget in Germany, but the costs vary depending on the type and region. Student residences (in short supply in Germany) and shared flats are the most economical options. Often, shared flats and residences have communal areas such as cafés, laundry facilities and cellars for bicycles.
Expect to pay between €200 and €360 per month for accommodation in Germany. Living alone will cost an average of €390 a month, sharing with a partner is €365 (£309) and living on campus is about €250 a month.
Naturally, large cities present the highest rental costs: larger cities such as Berlin, Munich, or Frankfurt are going to have much higher rents than smaller cities like Leipizig or Hannover. In Berlin, the cost of living is higher, and you can expect private accommodation to range from €400 - 800 including bills. However, these do often come furnished.
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Students in Germany are advised to budget €930 per month for living expenses. Rent is the most expensive of these costs. The average annual living cost in Germany is €11,208 (including rent, food, cultural events and utilities), although in bigger cities this cost could be higher.
An undergraduate degree in Germany lasts three to four years, therefore students should expect to spend €33,624 on living costs during an entire three-year degree.
German students should factor in €20-30 per month for study costs and learning materials.
One of the benefits of choosing to study in Germany is the “Semesterticket”, a pass that covers the cost of travel on buses, trams, subways and local trains (except inter-city trains) for six months in the specified university city. The cost is typically included in any admin fees payable to the university, although you may have to pay for it if your period of study is extended.
If your home country’s health insurance policy is not recognised in Germany, it is recommended that you take out an insurance policy during your period of study. Public health insurance policies are about €110 per month, as long as you are under 30 and have not been studying in Germany for more than 14 semesters. If you do not fit these criteria, the policy will jump to at least €166 per month.
Internet access for an entire flat is about €20-€30 a month (split between tenants) and utilities are about €200 per month. A monthly phone bill ranges from €10-30 per month. A litre of petrol costs €1.54 (£1.17).
If you’re from outside the EU, you will need a student visa to study in Germany, which costs about €75. To fulfil visa requirements, you will need to show proof that you have access to about €861 per month or €10,332 per year to cover living costs.
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Grocery shopping in Germany is good-value and students are expected to spend an average of €42 a week or €170 per month.
A Big Mac costs €4.60 and a meal in a restaurant costs about €10. A cinema ticket costs about €12, while a pint of beer is €3.50 and a glass of wine is €3. Monthly gym memberships cost about €30 and gig, concert and event tickets are about €10.
What financial support is available?
The German government offers students up to €670 per month to cover living costs while studying, under the BAföG programme. It is for students who are unable to finance the cost of the study they wish to undertake. German nationals and students from EU/EEA Member States may be eligible for this support if they meet the criteria. Generally, applicants for BAföG must live in Germany.
Another popular place to look for scholarships are the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) scholarships. The DAAD is a national government organisation which provides a range of scholarships for students at all levels.
Universities will also have their own scholarships so it's always worth getting in touch with your prospective universities and asking what kind of financial support they ahve in place.
Plenty of student discounts are available in Germany. On the presentation of a student card, you can get reductions on entrance fees to swimming pools, museums, theatres, cinemas and other cultural venues.
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