Expenses / Finance

Compared to other European countries, it's not expensive to live and study in Germany. We tell you what individual expenses you are likely to incur.

One of the most important things you have to consider when planning to study in Germany are your expenses. Before leaving for Germany, you must ensure that you have sufficient financial resources. The costs you should reckon with include the following:

  • so-called semester contributions, (possible tuition fees)
  • other study-related expenses
  • costs of health insurance
  • general expenses (accommodation, food, clothing, telephone)

Our tutor Max gives you an initial idea of what it costs to study in Germany:

The latest information about all study-related expenses is also included on the website of the Deutsche Studentenwerk

How high are tuition fees in Germany?

The german public institutions of higher education normally waive tuition fees for most bachelor's and many master's degree programmes. However, fees are charged for certain master's degree programmes – sometimes more than 10,000 euros per semester (1/2 year). Some private universities also charge relatively high tuition fees.

The cost of tuition says nothing about the quality of education in Germany. Tuition-free degree programmes offer very high quality.

Important! Independent Master degrees, in other words degrees that do not follow on directly from a Bachelor degree, are subject to a fee almost everywhere. These fees may range from 650 euro to several thousand euro a semester. For international Master degree programmes and courses at private universities, fees may even exceed 20,000 euro a year.

What is the semester contribution?

The semester contribution is payable at all universities and by all students. Depending on university, it can be between 200 and 250 euro a semester. This contribution finances, for example, student residences, the Mensa, administrative expenses and at many universities the semester ticket. This ticket entitles you to travel on public transport in your region. It costs between 25 euro and 150 euro for every 6-month period.

Example of a semester contribution

Summer semester 2012 University of Cologne (in euro)

• Social contributions                                       60.50

• Contribution towards student body                10.51

• Semester ticket                                            147.30

Total amount                                                 218.31

What other expenses should I reckon with?

In addition to fees and contributions, you should also consider other expenses, such as for books, computer equipment or excursions. These, of course, depend on individual requirements. To be able to realistically estimate the costs of studying your subject, inquire at the departmental student advice service or at your Departmental Student Society ("Fachschaft").

Examples of study expenses

Cost-intensive subjects are subjects such as architecture or medicine. In creative and artistic subjects, relatively high costs are incurred for work materials and technical equipment. In other subjects, in may make sense to buy important textbooks because these are often already out on loan from the library, especially before exams.

Tip: You can usually buy standard publications second-hand, for example, via online auctions.

What does health insurance cost?

To study in Germany, you are required to have health insurance. You must be insured with a statutory health insurance organisation at a favourable student rate until you are 30 years of age and up until the 14th semester of study. Insurance premiums for students are around 80 euro a month.

Important: Students from the European Union are also insured in Germany with the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC).

You will find all important details on the subject under "Health insurance".

What is the cost of living in Germany?

The costs of living in Germany are equivalent to the European average. They are lower than in Scandinavian countries, but relatively high compared to many countries in Asia, Africa or Latin America.

Students in Germany have an average of 800 euro a month at their disposal. But many students have to get by on much less money and adapt their lifestyle accordingly.

Students spend around a third of their budget on accommodation. Rent in cities such as Munich, Hamburg, Cologne and Düsseldorf is exceptionally high (around 340 euro for a room); it's much cheaper in smaller towns in the east, such as Leipzig or Chemnitz (around 220 euro). Generally speaking, rent levels in the south are higher than in the north, and in the west they are higher than in the east.

It's cheapest to live in student residences or shared accommodation. We have compiled a list of average national prices for different types of accommodation and other expenses you can expect to pay. 

Costs of rent including additional expenses

depending on type of accommodation             in euro

• for a room in student residences                      222

• for a room in shared accommodation               264

• for a single apartment                                        341

Monthly expenses for students in euro (without rent, tuition fees and semester contribution)

• Food                                                  159

• Clothes                                                51

• Learning aids                                       33

• Car / public transport                          76

• Health insurance                                 80

• Telephone, internet, television            35

• Recreation, culture, sport                   62

Total                                                     496

How can I save money?

Students in Germany enjoy a number of special benefits. They pay reduced rates for theatres, museums, cinemas, public baths and other amenities. On presentation of student IDs, there are also discounts on telephone rates, newspaper subscriptions, flights and railcards. The International Student Identity Card entitles holders to benefits in many countries. It costs 12 euro and can be obtained, for example, from the Studentenwerk.

Now you have an overview of the costs you can reckon with when you study in Germany. You can find out whether and how you can apply for a scholarship in the section on scholarships.