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Thursday, January 28, 2016

The Total Cost of My Master's Degree Program in Germany

Yesterday, I made the final payment for my Master's degree program! And since I never had to take out any loans for this degree, that means that the whole program is paid off over 8 months before I will graduate!

Now that the last payment has been made, let's take a look at how much getting my Master's degree in Germany cost in total.

First, let me answer some questions you may have regarding tuition in Germany.

Didn't you once write that Germany doesn't charge tuition?
Yes, I did. Public universities in Germany do not charge tuition (to foreigner students or anybody else). However, there are "semester fees," which students have to pay each semester. These vary from university to university, but are generally between 100 and 350 Euro. When you consider the prices of American public universities (I actually went to a private university for my Bachelor's degree because it was cheaper than the in-state public universities), this is a bargain.

But wait, if a semester fee isn't considered tuition, then what is it? 
Tuition is payment for teaching or instruction. Semester fees do not go towards those things. Instead, (at least at my university) they go to the student union (~30%), administration (~20%), and a transportation ticket for the entire state of Niedersachsen (~50%).

Didn't German universities use to charge tuition?
German states did enforce a tuition at public universities for a time, but this resulted in protests throughout the country. Lucky for me, the tuition fee (which was 500€ per semester) for was abolished in the state of Niedersachsen exactly when I began studying. That's 2,000 Euro saved!

Well, how much did you pay for your Master's degree program?
Take a look at the chart below to see how much I paid in fees for each of my four semesters.

Semester Fee
Winter 2014/15
Summer 2015
Winter 2015/16
Summer 2016

That's right, the total amount I paid for my Master's program is 1,326.39 Euro. Not too shabby, if you ask me (and my university actually has one of the highest semester fees in the country). Now I just have to hope I find a job after graduation in order to pay off my Bachelor's degree.

Do you agree with Germany's higher education system? Should public universities should be subsidized by taxpayers so students can graduate without debt?

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