Germany is still one of the countries with the most affordable and accessible higher education for international students. But you might worry that this whole ‘free tuition’ reputation is too good to be true, that there must be a catch behind it. Now, before you start imagining an academic conspiracy, here are the FAQs all future students ask about the cost of studies in Germany. Answered.
1. Are there tuition fees for studying in Germany?
The short answer is “Depends”. Most German public universities are tuition free — for everyone. But, as always, there’s an exception: starting from 2017, the public institutions in the region of Baden-Würrtemberg have introduced tuition fees. Some examples of free-tuition universities with great reputation are:
That being said, tuition fees still apply to private universities, regardless of where you come from. The good news is that you can find many affordable options even among private universities. Some examples are:
2. Why are there (almost) no tuition fees in Germany?
The federal government in Germany decided to remove tuition fees from public universities to make higher education widely accessible and affordable for as many people as possible.
Therefore, public universities get money from the state, which has decided to invest indirectly in higher education. The idea is that a better-educated population means economic growth and a highly-skilled workforce. Very common-sensical of Germany, we say!
3. Who still pays tuition in Germany?
Free tuition isn’t available for anyone who decides to come to Germany. The measure applies to all EU citizens and to outside foreigners who have an official residence permit in Germany.
So, heads-up! If you are an international student interested in coming to Germany to study, you will still have to pay tuition fees if you cannot obtain a residence permit in advance. Even more important, if you don’t finish your study programmes you’ll have to pay tuition fees for the semesters you completed already.
4. Is Germany reintroducing tuition fees?
The decision of the regional parliament in Baden-Würrtemberg to reintroduce tuition fees in 2017 is not yet final and it is a measure meant to address a local budget problem. So far, none of the other regional leaderships has had any complaints regarding the success of the “free tuition” policy or its competitiveness. Thus, the situation is far from signalling the end of this practice.
5. How much does a Bachelor's programme cost in Germany?
Well, if you choose one of the Bachelor's programmes from the private universities, you will need to pay tuition and administrative fees that reflect competitiveness of the university and their requirements.
There are various study programmes that require tuition fees starting from 2.000 EUR / year, and up to 22.000 EUR / year. The average, however, is around 5.500 EUR / year.
For the Bachelor's degrees offered by the public universities in Baden-Würrtemberg, the new tuition fees are estimated to be between 800 and 2.000 EUR / year. One top university in this region is:
6. Is living in Germany still expensive without tuition fees?
Germany is quite affordable and has plenty budget options for international students to handle the living costs. In other words, the no university tuition policy is not meant to compensate a high cost of living in Germany.
On average, you will need about 800 EUR / month to spend on: rent, utilities, transport, and food. Some of the daily expenses have student discounts, especially for transport, health insurance, and medical costs.
7. What other fees do I still have to pay to study in Germany?
Even if a Bachelor's programme doesn’t have tuition, the enrolling process comes with some costs. These are called administrative fees, which reach about 100 to 200 EUR / year, as well as enrolment fees, which amount to 50 - 100 EUR / semester. This fee is payable every semester on re-enrolment.
8. How can I pay for a Bachelor’s programme in Germany?
Whether you apply to a public university with free tuition or to a private institution, you are allowed to apply for scholarships and grants in order to finance your studies. While most grants are designed to cover the implicit cost of tuition and administrative fees, some also include specific amounts for food, rent, transport and health insurance.
Also, most Bachelor's programmes allow, and even facilitate, part-time jobs or paid internships for students as a means to gather work experience and make their stay in Germany more affordable and inclusive.
9. Can I still apply for scholarships if I don’t pay for tuition?
Yes, you are encouraged to apply, as early as possible, for any of the widely accessible scholarship programmes. While some scholarships are awarded only to international students, most of them require knowledge and proof of German language skills, such as the DAAD programme.
10. Does free tuition mean the education is not very good?
The international competitiveness of German universities is widely recognised by university rankings and awards. So, rest assured German education is still top-of-the class. The trade-off for affordable degrees in Germany is that you will be required to learn German for most courses and exams.