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Friday, October 10, 2014

Do German Universities Charge Tuition to Foreigners?

This past week, I have been seeing articles like this about how Germany has abolished tuition fees be shared all over the Internet. Often, however, these articles are accompanied by comments asking if studying in Germany is also free for foreigners.

A nice example of the memes going around on the Internet right now...

As an American getting my Master's in Germany, I can tell you that the answer is yes. But there is a little bit more to it...

I got my Bachelor's in the U.S. I know it is expensive. I have the crushing student debt to prove it. So, I would be lying if I said that money was a big factor in my choice to study in Germany.

When I moved to Lower Saxony (Niedersachsen) in 2013, however, they actually did still charge a tuition fee. But this "tuition" fee that many states in Germany used to have was only 500 Euros per semester (about $650), which is chump change to anyone that has studied in the U.S. So, all those people shouting "Wow, I should study in Germany!" that Germany has always made it a priority to invest in students.

Lucky for me, Lower Saxony got rid of the tuition fee at the exact time that I started my Masters degree. However, this does not mean that I did not have to pay the university any money. All universities in Germany do still charge a fee each semester that includes administrative fees and the semester ticket (a pass for all public transportation within the state). This is usually around 300 Euro (about $400).

The best part about this is that Germany does not make any exceptions when it comes to tuition fees. All students that are admitted to a public university are entitled to study there for free. This is quite unique to Germany, as many other European countries charge foreigners extra tuition fees.

But does this mean that Americans should start coming to Germany to study? No.

Although Germany does have many English-language programs, I believe that only those that are truly interested in living in Germany, assimilating to the culture, and learning the language should come here to study. For those that just like the idea of living it up abroad, try checking out a study abroad program first.

Now, my question for you is:
Do you think Germany should charge tuition to foreign students?


  1. As much as I love Germany and am enamored with the idea of studying there (not actually going to happen logistically speaking), I actually think they should charge tuition to non-citizens. But I'm not passionate enough in that opinion to lobby for it. It's their country, their decision! And who knows? Maybe one day hubby and I will be living there and I could study there. 😊

  2. I have read that Germany sees it as an investment, as the educated graduates tend to stay in Germany and add to the workforce. In fact, once you graduate from a German university, you are given a residence permit that allows you to look for work within Germany for 18 months.

    I think that many of the English-language programs targeted at foreigners often do charge tuition as well. So, the free, largely German-language programs do not actually have to subsidize the education of that many foreign applicants (except me... haha).

  3. Very cool! I love reading about the differences between the US and Germany on your blog. Thank you for sharing :)


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