Compared to other European countries, the cost of living in Germany is quite reasonable. The prices for food, accommodation, clothing, cultural events, etc. are basically in line with the EU average. The largest expense is your monthly rent.
You should expect to pay the following expenses during your stay in Germany:
- living expenses (rent, food, clothing, books, telephone, …)
- semester contribution
- health insurance
- possible tuition fees
In large cities, costs can vary considerably depending on where you live. You should plan on spending more on living and studying in Munich than in Leipzig, for example. As a rule, students can live on less money in smaller cities than in larger ones. Naturally, the amount of money you need will ultimately depend on how economically you live.
Flat rental comprises the largest portion of one’s monthly expenditures. However, rental prices in Germany vary greatly. Depending on where your university is located, you will pay between 210 and 360 euros per month for an accommodation. The rental prices in some large cities, such as Cologne, Munich, Hamburg, Düsseldorf and Frankfurt am Main, are much higher in comparison. If you are looking to live cheaply, it might be a good idea to take a room in a student hall of residence or a shared flat (WG).
Students are eligible for numerous price concessions. By presenting your student ID at the ticket counter, you can receive concessions on entrance fees to theatres, museums, opera houses, cinemas, public swimming pools and other cultural venues.
All university students are required to pay a “semester contribution”. It costs about 250 euros on average, but can vary depending on the university and the services it includes.
One part of the semester contribution covers social services and fees. This helps finance, for example, the student dining halls, student halls of residence, athletic facilities and administrative services. This social contribution can cost up to 100 euros.
In some states students are charged an extra administrative fee which can range from 50 to 75 euros per semester.
The semester contribution at many universities also includes the cost of a public transport ticket. With your “semester ticket”, you can use all modes of public transportation in and around your university town for half a year at no charge. Depending on the city and the range of the ticket, the ticket can cost between 25 and 160 euros per semester.
German universities charge very low tuition fees, and often none at all. Most universities in Germany are state subsidised. Students do not normally pay tuition fees for bachelor’s degree programmes. Certain master’s degree programmes might come with tuition fees, but compared with other countries, they are not very high.
The federal state of Baden-Württemberg has however announced that it will begin charging tuition fees (for Bachelor’s, Master’s, Diplom and state examination degree programmes) of €1,500 per semester for non-EU citizens from the winter semester 2017/18. Doctoral candidates will not be subject to fees. Students who are already studying in Baden-Württemberg but have not graduated by the 2017/18 winter semester will not be required to pay tuition fees to complete their degree. This regulation on tuition fees in Baden-Württemberg is currently still in the political decision-making process; detailed regulations have therefore not yet been determined.
If your health insurance cover at home is not recognised in Germany, you will have to take out an insurance policy here. Public health insurance providers offer policies to students for around 80 euros a month – that is, as long as you are still under 30 and haven’t studied longer than 14 semesters. After that, your premium automatically increases to 160 euros per month or more.