Financing your Education

Money, money, money – it’s a rich man’s world! But that isn’t exactly the case in Germany, where education is considerably more affordable than in other countries. Nevertheless, there are ways in which you can help to relieve the financial burden of your parents through the various methods available with respect to financing your education in Germany! On this page, you will also find some information on compulsory fees which you will need to pay for your studies in several German states.

Cost of Living
Living expenses tend to hover around €700-€1000 per month and includes rent, mandatory health insurance (around €80 monthly), food, as well as other basic necessities. If you intend to travel around and eat out a lot, do prepare more. Rents also differ from city to city, from as low as €195 in Jena to €600 in Munich.

For a breakdown on what students in Germany typically spend on, click on the following link! For a more comprehensive guide to the cheapest as well as most expensive cities for students in Germany, please click here (available only in German)!

School Fees
School fees in Germany usually are made up of 2 components: General Tuition Fees and the Semester Contribution.

Tuition Fees
Education in state-run universities was completely free for much of recent history, but since 2006, certain states have started to charge tuition fees after a change in Federal law was made. However, in comparison to countries such as the UK, USA and even Singapore, fees are generally still affordable by comparison with fees currently capped at a maximum of €500 per semester. Because of this, it is entirely possible to complete your undergraduate studies in Germany at the same cost as studying for a year in the US or UK!

For more information on which German states (Länder) still charges school fees, you may refer to this link for the English version or this for the more comprehensive version in German.

Semester Contribution
Other than the tuition fees (payable every semester upon re-matriculation at the end of the previous semester), you would also need to pay a nominal fee which covers the administrative costs, Studentenwerk (student services) contributions and, in the case of some university towns and cities, also for the semester transport ticket for travelling to and from school, within the city or even within the region. This can range from between €50 to €200 depending on which university you are studying in.

Scholarships
Need help and funding to pay for your education or research? Don’t worry – there are many scholarships, offered by both Singapore and Germany, for students to further their education in Germany. Some are bond free, some come with a bond (and a secure job!) for at least 3-4 years. Some give you the opportunity to work in a private firm, while some give you the chance to experience work in the government sector. The opportunities available are endless – just click on the following links for more information to find out more!

Working Part-time
The Residence permit allows students to work for up to 90 full days (or 180 half days) in a year. Typing keywords like Ferienbeschäftigung or Ferienarbeit would lead to many links to companies and factories looking for holiday workers. Always provide your Lohnsteuerkarte (income tax card) on the first day of work; it is a document usually obtained after registering at the city hall (Rathaus) or the residents’ office (Bürgerbüro). This is especially interesting for students intending to do an exchange for 2 semesters, as it offers them the possibility to earn a bit of income during the semester holidays between the 2 semesters. Firms like Daimler Chrysler, Pilz and Roto often have places for holiday workers. Do take note that a certain level of German is required as the work often involves production and machinery, and it is for safety reasons that workers fully understand the instructions passed on to them.

Apart from internships at reputable firms, students can also consider working as student assistants (HiWis) alongside their studies at various university departments such as the faculty office, the library, the deans’ office, or the international office, just to name a few. Employment rules and duration in these instances tend to be more relaxed and flexible in comparison to working outside your university. Do keep your eyes peeled on the Schwarzes Brett (Notice Board) of your universities for the latest job offers!