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Tuition fees in Germany

Tuition fees in Germany

In Germany, tuition fees are a matter for the individual federal states. However, the tuition fees must be “socially acceptable”. After you have passed the Abitur , you will often stumble across the terms ” study financing”, “scholarship” and “tuition fees” when you are looking for the right course of study and the right university!

Tuition fees in Germany: Tuition fees do not have to be paid at state or church universities in Germany. It’s important to note that tuition fees usually apply at private universities. However, this does not mean that studying in Germany is free of charge

General Tuition Fees

There are currently no general tuition fees in any German federal state! In this way, you can start your first degree anywhere in Germany without additional costs. Only a few federal states are an exception for long-term students, for  foreigners or  senior studies. However, what you still have to pay are the semester fees. Depending on the university, these amount to between €100 and €300. If you do without the semester ticket, a large part of this amount will be lost. The semester fees are independent of the tuition fees.

Overview of tuition fees

(Status: December 2016, Source: Wikipedia)

from non-EU countries
Baden-Wuerttemberg1.500 €no70 €
Berlinnono50 €
Brandenburgnono51 €
Bremenno500 €
(from 15. Semester)
50 €
Hamburgnono50 €
Hessenono50 €
Mecklenburg-Vorpommernnonoup to €50 to
be determined by HS
Lower Saxonyno500 €
(from the 6th semester beyond the standard period of
75 €
North Rhine-Westphalianonono
Saarlandnonoup to €50 to be determined by HS
(from the 5th semester beyond the standard period of
can be determined by HS
Saxonycan be determined by HS€500
(from the 5th semester beyond the standard period of
25–150 €
Thuringiano500 €
(from the 4th semester beyond the standard period of
up to €50 to
be determined by HS

In Baden-Württemberg, since the 2017/18 winter semester, tuition fees of EUR 1,500 per semester have been charged for some international students pursuing their first degree. Students with citizenship within the EU or the EEA do not have to pay tuition fees for their first degree. Also excluded from this are certain foreign students (e.g. non-EU citizens with a German Abitur) and students doing a doctorate. At the same time, tuition fees for the second degree of 650 euros per semester were introduced for all students.

You can use the website of the Baden-Württemberg Ministry of Science (MWK) to find out about the reasons that led to this decision.

You still have to think about the cost of living while studying in Germany

The costs are roughly as follows (you have to reckon with around 850 euros per month for your living expenses):

  • Books, copies and study material: 25 – 50 euros per month
  • Rent: approx. 175 – 350 euros per month
  • Food: The Studentenwerk canteens offer inexpensive menus ( approx. 4 euros per day).
    Additional 75 euros – 130 euros per month to prepare more meals at home.
  • Health insurance: approx. 110 euros per month
  • Semester fee: EUR 367.40 for the winter semester 2021/22 (reduced fee for exchange students and DAAD scholarship holders: EUR 292.40)
  • Deposit: A deposit usually has to be paid for apartments, which is returned when you move out of the apartment. On the open housing market, it is usually three months’ rent. The deposit for a room in the dormitory is 400 euros.
  • Public broadcasting fee: EUR 18.36 per month (further information on the broadcasting fee is also available on the website from ARD ZDF contribution service).

Long-term tuition fees

If you exceed a certain number of semesters, you may have to pay long-term tuition. However, these do not apply in all federal states! But this is not only different from federal state to federal state – there is no uniform regulation within them either. There are sometimes deviations from university to university! However, there are ways to circumvent these fees. For example, you can move to another federal state for a second degree. Or you can submit a so-called “ hardship application ”. However, this must be plausible!

Since the word “long-term study fees” has a rather negative connotation, the word ” educational credit ” is usually used instead. This credit describes the number of semesters that you can study without paying fees.

Study accounts

A study account is a special form of education voucher. When you enroll, you will receive a study account including study credit. You can use this during your studies. Thus, it enables a free first degree. If you use up your study credit before you have completed your studies, you will be asked to pay in the following semesters.

Second degree

If you have already obtained a university degree and are aiming for further studies, this is referred to as a  second degree . If you just want to change your course of study or drop out of your studies without a degree, this designation does not apply. With a few exceptions, no tuition fees are charged for the second degree.

Even in federal states in which  fees for a second degree  are actually charged, you can avoid them under certain circumstances. The following criteria must be met:

  • If the chosen profession can only be practiced with 2 successful degrees.
  • If the first degree was completed abroad.
  • If a semester of leave has been approved.
  • If the desired profession is no longer possible after the first degree due to a health impairment.

Studying a a senior citizen

There is  no uniform model  for senior citizen studies in Germany. Tuition fees range from €40 to €240 per semester. The amount varies from university to university and depends on the number of hours per week. The Senior Studies program does not provide for any exams or degrees.

Tax deductibility of study costs

With this jungle of fees, you must not forget one thing – you get money back from the state for studying! You can deduct tuition fees from your taxes.