Are there really no tuition fees in Germany?

Posted on 14 May, 2018

For many prospective students, the cost of tuition is an important factor in deciding where to study. Planning how to finance your studies needs to be considered before starting a course. In Germany, you can break down higher education institutes into those which are public and those which are private.

What tuition fees are there at public universities?

In Germany, the 16 Bundesländer (federal states) are responsible for setting tuition fees. In general, there are no tuition fees at public higher education institutes, although there are exceptions for long-term students in some Bundesländer. This means that if it takes you longer to complete your course than the normal course length, you may face tuition fees of €500 or more for every additional semester. Although there aren’t generally tuition fees, some institutes do charge a Sozialbetrag (semester fee), which can sometimes cost several hundred euros a semester. This goes in part towards the administration (enrolment fee, re-registration fee), but also towards the student administration and social welfare organisation (Studentenwerk), which benefits the canteen, the cafeteria, student accommodation and counselling services. AStA, the students’ union, also receives part of this money. The semester fee also often includes a free public transport pass. As each university is different, you always need to check what the exacts costs are.

What about private universities?

Generally, private universities do charge tuition fees, whether for a bachelor’s, master’s or PhD course. Tuitions fees can vary considerably and are usually due before the start of each semester. On average, a bachelor’s course at a private university costs around €520 a month.