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

December 5 2017
The price of studying 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. 

Tuition fees

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, from 2017 non-EU students will pay for study in the Baden-Wurttemberg area, which includes the universities of Freiburg, Heidelberg, Hohenheim, Karlsruhe, Konstanz, Mannhein, Stuttgart, Tübingen and Ulm. It will cost €1,500 (£1,324) per semester for a first degree at these universities and €650 (£574) 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.

There is a charge at all universities for enrolment, confirmation and administration, which is typically no more than €300 (£265) per semester, although each university is different.

The majority of universities are public, however, the few private ones can charge up to €20,000 (£17,656) per year.

Accommodation costs

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 by far 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 €210 (£185) and €360 (£317) per month for accommodation in Germany. Living alone will cost an average of €363 (£320) a month, sharing with a partner is €351 (£309) and living on campus is about €237 (£209) a month.

Naturally, large cities present the highest rental costs: a student flat in Munich, one of the most expensive German cities, costs €665 (£587) per month, while in Berlin it is €430 (£380) and in Leipzig, a smaller university town, monthly student rent is approximately €327 (£289).

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Other essential student costs

Students in Germany are advised to budget €850 (£750) per month for living expenses, which is in line with the EU average. Rent is the most expensive of these costs. The average annual living cost in Germany is €9,600 (£8,475) (including rent, food, cultural events and utilities), although in Munich the average annual living cost could be up to €10,800 (£9,534).

An undergraduate degree in Germany lasts three to four years, therefore students should expect to spend €28,800 (£25,425) on living costs during an entire three-year degree.

German students should factor in €20-30 (£17-26) 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 €80 (£71) 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 €160 (£141) per month.

Internet access for an entire flat should be about €25 (£22) per month (split between tenants) and utilities are about €200 (£177) per month. A monthly phone bill ranges from €10-30 (£8-27) per month. A litre of petrol costs €1.32 (£1.17).

If you’re from outside the EU, you will need a student visa to study in Germany, which costs about €60 (£53). To fulfil visa requirements, you will need to show proof that you have access to about €853 (£778) per month or €10,236 (£9,344) 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 €25 (£22) a week or €100 (£88) per month.

A Big Mac costs €4.47 (£3.95) and a meal in a restaurant costs about €10 (£9). A cinema ticket costs about €10 (£9), while a pint of beer is €3.50 (£3) and a glass of wine is €3 (£2.65). Monthly gym memberships cost about €28.59 (£25) and gig, concert and event tickets typically do not exceed €10.

The average cost of a night out in the capital city of Berlin is €21.59 or £19 (including six pints, a McDonald’s meal and taxis to and from a bar).

What financial support is available?

The German government offers students up to €670 (£591) 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.

There is also the Deutschlandstipendium or the Germany Scholarship, which provides financial support to high-achieving students from around the world. It is formed as a public-private partnership, meaning businesses, foundations or private individuals sponsor young talent with €150 (£132) a month, which is then matched by another €150 by the Federal Government.

Scholarships are also a possibility in Germany and about 6,000 are offered to native and foreign students. They are not necessarily based on skills assessments, but students’ financial need. Amounts range from €100-500 (£88-132) per month and are provided by the state.

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. Find the full list of discounts in each student city here.

Read more in this series

The cost of studying at a university in the United States
The cost of studying at a university in the UK
The cost of studying at a university in Canada
The cost of studying at a university in France
The cost of studying at a university in Australia
The cost of studying at a university in the Netherlands
The cost of studying at a university in New Zealand
The cost of studying at a university in China

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