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Living Costs for a Student in Germany

Expatrio 2024-02-15
Living Costs for a Student in Germany


Wherever you study in Germany, it's important to be aware of the living costs and associated study fees before you apply. The good news is that the cost of living in Germany for students is very reasonable, especially given the quality of education on offer. Also, student living expenses in Germany are far less than in France, the UK or Italy.

Read on to find out more about tuition fees and semester contributions to German universities, housing and health insurance prices for international students, and some handy money-saving tips for your budget.

University tuition fees

In Germany, there are no tuition fees for Bachelor's courses at public universities. This is because the government heavily subsidizes higher education. Degree courses are available in German and, in some cases, English, too. Around 5% of the student population attends a private university, but here, tuition fees will be payable.

How much does it cost to get a degree abroad in Germany?

Because there are no tuition fees in Germany, you can attain a degree for a lot less money than elsewhere. There are still other costs you need to pay for such as rent, semester fees, bills, and food, which usually comes to around €850 - €1,000 a month.

Which universities in Germany are free?

One common misconception is that university is free for nationals but that German tuition fees for international students are payable. However, the German government subsidizes education for international students as well as national ones, which means that provided your application is accepted, you won’t need to pay any tuition fees.

How do I apply to study in Germany for free?

Because there are no tuition fees at public German universities, you can just apply for a course in the normal way, and you do not need to make any special application to study for free. In some cases, you will have to pay to study a Master's course, which brings us to…

How much does an Master's course cost in Germany?

Master courses (e.g. MA, MSc, MEng etc.) are often offered without tuition fees, even for international students, provided they are 'consecutive' courses, which means the subject is the same as your Bachelor's degree. Non-consecutive Master’s degrees can cost upwards of €3,000.


Requirements to study in Germany

Check the entry requirements for each university you are interested and whether your high-school/undergrad certificates that were not acquired in Germany will be eligible for your application. Also make sure what the language requirements are and whether you will need an official qualification to prove your competency in German or the needed languages.


Semester contributions

How much does it cost to study in Germany?

Although there is no study fee in Germany, all students need to pay a semester fee to the university. This is charged each semester (every six months) and is usually in the region of €200 - €500. When you’re budgeting your student costs in Germany, make sure you include this amount which will need to be paid in advance each semester.

What does the Semester Fee cover?

What is included in your semester fee will vary from university to university, but it generally covers administration and enrollment fees and usually a travelcard as well. It will also cover a contribution to campus-based student services run by the student administration or Studentenwerk, plus a fee for membership to the student union.


How much does it cost to study in Germany?

This video from Study in Germany explains the average costs for a student in Germany and also shows insights how the German student life works. 

While watching you can improve your German language skills!

Student Housing

Almost all universities in Germany offer student housing, especially to first-year students. Both local and international students will have the chance to apply for a place in student accommodation, and some second and third year students may have this opportunity too, depending on the amount of accommodation available at a specific university. Generally speaking, second and third-year students will find shared (private) accommodation along with other students.

How much is a room for students in Germany?

Student accommodation in Germany typically costs around €350 a month for university halls, rising to around €500 for a room in a shared house. In the most expensive cities like Frankfurt and Munich, however, students may have to pay in the region of €700 for a room in a shared house or flat and €400 - €500 for student accommodation. Learn how to find cheap student accommodation here.

Living in Student halls

Student halls are not only a low-cost option, but they are almost always very close to the university campuses. Apply for student accommodation as far in advance as possible, as the rooms are in high demand, especially for the winter semester.



Health insurance for international students

Germany has an excellent public health care system which suits for most German residents international students. It's advisable to take out public health insurance - such as Techniker Krankenkasse (TK) - as the cover is more comprehensive and it means you will be covered before you arrive. You can choose between public and private health insurance. Either way, you need to be covered before you will be allowed to begin your studies.

You can find out more about medical costs on our Health Insurance for International Students page.


Money saving tips for students

International students are only permitted to work 120 days or 240 half days per year, which limits earnings and means you need to know how to save money as a student.

Consider these ideas to save money:

Student ID for discounts

Remember to carry your student ID with you at all times and actively seek out businesses that offer a discount. Many retailers, restaurants, museums, cinemas, bars, and nightclubs offer a student discount which is usually around 10-20%.


Save on living expenses

You can lower your living expenses in a number of ways. Always choose student accommodation if you can and opt for a house or flat share rather than studio or one bed accommodation. You can often find cheaper house shares on the outskirts of the city, just make sure that there is a reliable tram, bus, or metro (S/U-Bahn) that you can use to get to both the university campus and the city center.


Food shopping

Avoid expensive grocery stores and food halls and try to stock up on essentials at discount supermarkets such as Aldi and Lidl. Open-air street markets are common in many cities in Germany and can be a great place to buy fresh produce, meat, fish, and other treats at low costs.


Saving money in Berlin

Berlin is a relatively low-cost city, especially in comparison to Munich, Frankfurt, London or Paris, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t ways to save even more money. Eating out can be comparable to cooking at home when you visit one of the city’s many kebab grills or Currywurst stalls, and in the summer, the swathes of green parks are a great place to enjoy picnics or a few drinks before heading out for an evening. If you’d like to spend a few days visiting the major attractions, museums, and landmarks when you arrive (or any time), purchase a Berlin Welcome Card for money off these activities.


Saving money in Munich

The cost of living is considerably higher in Munich than it is in Berlin; those who move to Munich may have to be much more careful with their budget. Apply as far in advance as you can for student accommodation for cheaper rent costs. The Bavarian restaurants in Munich are also much cheaper at lunch than dinner (even for the same food), so if you plan on meeting a friend for a meal, do it then. Munich’s museums and galleries are often heavily discounted or even free on Sundays - hot tip!


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