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Study in Germany Without Tuition Fees


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Studying in Germany without tuition fees is possible, as a number of German universities do not charge their international students who come from outside the European Union. The government provides over 500 grants and scholarship programs each year specifically to support undergraduate and postgraduate students on all levels. The programs are funded by the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) and the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), as well as private supporters and foundations.

Why study in Germany?

Germany is always at or near the top of the rankings of the world’s best countries in which to live and work. It is also an excellent place to study. University tuition is free, and Germany offers some of the best employment opportunities in Europe. Traveling around Europe is easy, so it’s not surprising that there are so many ways to spend your year abroad in Germany!

Germany is a very popular destination for students from all over the world – especially from East Asia and North America – mainly because of its academic excellence, low cost of living, and high quality of life. Today, we’ll be talking about why you should study in Germany the second-largest economy in the European Union (EU), and home to some of the most prestigious universities in the world.

What are the tuition fees?

Tuition fees can be found in every European country and there are no tuition fees in Germany too. The difference is that German universities are free for international students only if they have adequate knowledge of the German language, which is required for admission purposes.

$1,000 per semester for living expenses (such as accommodation, food, entertainment, travel) is a reasonable amount. In most cases, you won’t have to pay anything until your second year at university. If you live with a family you can reduce your expenses by $500-$600 per month.

The living expenses in Germany for an international student will be higher than for a local student because the cost of living in Germany is quite high when compared to other European countries.

In Germany, you can study on undergraduate, graduate, and postgraduate levels at public universities without paying any tuition fees. But there are some rules that international students must follow in order to get their degree without paying tuition fees. These rules depend on the course and level at which the student wants to study:

What is the cost of living in Germany?

Germany is a country where the living cost is really low. For example, you can get a good meal in a restaurant for only 8 Euros and can easily survive with 100 Euros per month if you are a student of Bachelor level. You will not have to pay a tuition fee in Germany, moreover, you will be given a monthly allowance of 300 euros as well as help with your travel arrangements. At the end of the course, you will get a degree certificate which will be recognized all over the world.

If you want to study in Germany but are planning to work part-time or full-time (without being paid) during your course, you need to check that your chosen university accepts students who want to study and work at the same time. Also, many private universities don’t accept international students who want to study and work at the same time. Make sure that this is permitted by your university before applying for a Visa for Germany.

Examples of costs

Studying in Germany is a very attractive option for international students. However, many people might not know that most undergraduate programs in Germany are taught in German and are free of tuition fees.

Here are some examples of what you might pay for an academic year (26-27 courses) at a German higher education institution:

  • Tuition fees: 0€
  • Health insurance (mandatory): 300€-600€
  • Books and study materials: 100€
  • Accommodation (on-campus dormitory): 0€
  • Personal expenses (food, transportation): 800€-1000€
  • Miscellaneous (phone, laundry, etc.): 100€
  • Total: 1,600€-2,000€/year or ~350-500$/month
  • In comparison: Tuition fees at top US universities can easily run over 40,000$/year.

What is a German Student Exchange Service (SAE) scholarship?

A German Student Exchange Service (SAE) scholarship is a scholarship for non-EU students. It does not cover tuition fees. It covers the cost of living and travel expenses for your studies in Germany.

This scholarship is only available to foreign students who have never been enrolled at a university as full-time students in Germany or any other country within the European Union.

To be eligible, you must be above 18 years of age and must fulfill certain study requirements depending on the discipline you choose to pursue in Germany. You can apply for the SAE scholarship online and it should be processed within 4 months. If you are selected, you will receive confirmation via email and will then need to sign a contract with the Goethe-Institut in your country before you board your flight to Germany.

How to apply for a scholarship in Germany?

The Consortium for International Education (CIE) offers financial support for international students who study in Germany. The CIE provides funding to cover tuition fees, living expenses, and travel costs. For example, some recipients of the CIE scholarship will receive a monthly stipend of €500 per month for living expenses. International exchange students receive even more funding, up to €60 per day for travel costs.

This scholarship requires no application form or letter of recommendation, just a copy of your passport and proof of admission from the university where you plan to study in Germany. The application process is very easy and can be completed online within minutes. The CIE grants scholarships to approximately 800 students each year from all around the world.

To be eligible, you must:

  • Be enrolled at an accredited college or university outside of Germany;
  • Have been admitted by a German institution of higher learning;
  • Demonstrate financial need through official evidence (e.g., tax return);
  • Not be receiving any other type of assistance from other sources such as your home country

What to bring to Germany and what you must do before leaving for Germany

Studying in Germany has become a very popular choice for international students seeking a degree in Europe. Many universities in Germany offer English-taught degrees, and they are affordable when compared to other European countries.

The cost of study in Germany is the lowest among all European countries and the tuition fees are usually waived for international students.

Here we will try to answer some questions that you might have about studying in Germany:

What do I need to bring when I travel to Germany?

You are not allowed to move into your dormitory before you have your German residence permit. Your University will provide an accommodation list once you have been accepted for your studies. You must choose one from this list as soon as possible. Once you have chosen your accommodation, it is time to decide on what to bring with you!
You should have everything ready well ahead of time since it can take up to six weeks to get your German visa. Also, remember that you won’t be able to leave the country if you don’t have a valid visa.

What should I do before leaving for Germany?

Before leaving for Germany, you must apply for a visa at the German embassy or consulate in your home country. The application must be accompanied by documents such as an original university acceptance letter.

University admission requirements for non-EU students?

Do you want to study in Germany? Yes? Then you might have noticed that studying in Germany can be expensive! But don’t worry, there are still some good options to study in Germany without tuition fees. The German state will pay for your studies if you get a scholarship and qualify as a “student with the limited income”.

Taking a German course is the first step to getting into a German university. If you’re just looking to improve your German language skills and get some more information about the country, then this is probably all you need.

If you’re planning on becoming a student in Germany, then there are a couple of things you should know: There are no tuition fees for EU citizens. That means European Union countries, plus Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Iceland, Norway, and Croatia (which joined the EU in 2013). If that’s not you, then you’ll need to apply for a place on one of Germany’s scholarship schemes for non-EU students.

And as with so many things related to the country’s universities and professional courses, that involves two different processes:

  • getting an admission certificate for university or higher education courses (Hochschulzugangsberechtigung or HZB) from your prospective university;
  • and receiving confirmation of admission from.

Visa and residence permit requirements for non-EU students

For non-EU students, it is also possible to study in Germany without tuition fees. However, you will need a scholarship instead of paying tuition fees. There are two basic options:

The German Academic Exchange Service (Deutscher Akademischer Austausch Dienst) offers grants and scholarships for international students interested in studying in Germany. For example, the DAAD offers two types of scholarships that do not require you to pay any tuition fees:

The DAAD grants scholarship is given to students who have already been accepted by a German university. The scholarship covers all expenses except living costs. Living costs are covered by a BAföG grant which is financed by the federal government and which does not have to be paid back.

The DAAD Excellence Scholarship is given to excellent students from outside of the EU/EEA who wish to pursue a degree taught in German at a German university. You do not need to pay any tuition fees or apply for BAföG but still receive a monthly scholarship covering living expenses up to 1470 Euros per month.

Language requirements for non-EU students

The German government supports the Erasmus+ program, which is a 2-year study and traineeship abroad initiative. However, non-EU students who want to study in Germany are subject to specific language requirements.

Language requirements for non-EU students

According to the official website of the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD), non-EU students who wish to study in Germany must prove their language proficiency through one of the following:

“Test DaF” (Test Deutsch als Fremdsprache)

The Test DaF is a certificate, which proves foreign students’ language skills in written and spoken German. The test is available for non-EU students and for EU students who want to study abroad. The Test DaF is recognized by all German higher education institutions (universities and colleges). TestDaF can be taken at any one of the 522 TestDaF centers around the world.

The application deadline for August 2017 intake is January 26. 

“Zentrale Oberstufenprüfung” (ZOP) or “Feststellungsprüfung” (FestPrüf)

The ZOP is an exam that serves several purposes

Work while studying in Germany

There are almost 600 universities and colleges in Germany, which is more than any other European country. The country’s higher education system is divided into three main types of institutions:

  • universities (Universitäten),
  • technical colleges (Fachhochschulen),
  • and art colleges (Kunst- und Musikhochschulen).
The academic year runs from October to June, with summer breaks between semesters. 

The majority of German universities are government-funded, so you don’t have to pay tuition fees if you’re a citizen or permanent resident of the European Union or Switzerland; however, if you’re coming from outside the EU/Switzerland, you may be asked to pay tuition fees at some institutions. Some fields of study can attract additional charges; for example, medicine and dentistry courses charge tuition fees of up to €2,500 per semester.


In Germany, you are allowed to pursue your degree without paying any tuition fees. However, keep in mind that there may be other costs to consider, such as living expenses and course materials. Although tuition fees will not be a part of your expenses, living and studying in Germany does involve certain costs that should be planned for.


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