Study Costs in Germany
You should expect to pay the following expenses during your stay in Germany:
- living expenses (rent, food, clothing, books, telephone, etc)
- education program fees
- health insurance
- possible tuition fees
Cost of living in Germany
While many students can study in Germany for free, living expenses are unavoidable. The cost of living in Germany is more expensive in some areas than others – Munich, for example, is considered the most expensive German city to live in, with living costs averaging about €12,000 (~US$13,900) per year. By comparison, the average annual living costs in Germany are around €10,200 (~US$11,800).
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 from DAAD, other average monthly costs are as follows:
- €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
Students are eligible for numerous price concessions. By presenting your student ID at the ticket counter, you can receive concessions on entrance fees to theatres, museums, opera houses, cinemas, public swimming pools and other cultural venues.
Undergraduate costs to study in Germany
Although you can study for free at public German universities as an undergraduate, there is a charge per semester for enrolment, confirmation and administration. This is typically no more than €250 (~US$290) per semester, but varies depending on the university.
There may be an additional charge to purchase a “Semesterticket”, which covers public transport expenses for six months – the price varies depending upon which Semester ticket option you choose. If you exceed the standard period of study by more than four semesters, you may also face a long-term fee charge, which could be as much as €500 (~US$540) per semester.
Most universities in Germany are public. Private institutions are usually dependent on tuition fees for their funding (though some also receive support from foundations), and set their own fees, which can be anything up to and beyond €20,000 a year (~US$24,400).
The Federal Student Financial Aid Program can be used by both German nationals and EU students, as well as some foreigners under select conditions. Generally, this aid is for those under 30 years old (under 35 if you’re studying for a master’s degree), but exceptions can be made depending on circumstance. The BAföG is usually split in two, with 50% taking the form of a state grant and the other half is an interest-free loan that must be paid back in instalments when the maximum period of assistance expires.
Master’s and postgraduate costs to study in Germany
Master’s degrees at German universities are usually free if they are classed as “consecutive” – i.e. following directly on from a related bachelor’s degree gained in Germany. Again, there is a small charge per semester for enrolment, confirmation and administration, plus a Semesterticket. Tuition fees for “non-consecutive” master’s degrees, for those who have gained their bachelor’s degree elsewhere in the world, vary between universities and maybe around €20,000 (~US$24,400) per year at public institutions and up to €30,000 (~US$36,600) at private German universities.
At PhD level, tuition is once again free at all universities in Germany – for the first six semesters at least. As at all levels of study, PhD students are also required to make a semester contribution of no more than €250 or so for administration and other costs. You can find out more about studying a PhD in Germany here.
If your health insurance cover at home is not recognised in Germany, you will have to take out an insurance policy here. Public health insurance providers offer policies to students for around 80 euros a month – that is, as long as you are still under 30 and haven’t studied longer than 14 semesters. After that, your premium automatically increases to 160 euros per month or more.
Scholarships to study in Germany