Despite German universities having zero or very low tuition fees and the cost of living in Germany being very reasonable compared to other countries, two-thirds of international students still choose to work part-time to cover their living expenses.
Managing your finances is a very important challenge you need to figure out as an international student. It’s best if you start preparing your finances and how you’re going to cover your living expenses in Germany well in advance.
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Here are some ways to finance your studies in Germany:
- Parental income
- Personal savings
- Working part-time
- Student loans
Even if your personal savings may not cover the total cost of studying in Germany, with a little bit of effort you can accumulate the minimum required amount of money to provide proof of financial resources, so you can get your German student visa and residence permit.
Since this amount cannot be earned overnight it’s highly recommended you start saving earlier. For most international students Germany has been for a long time an option for seeking a university degree and those who knew what it expects them away from home started saving money from the day they made up their mind to come and study in Germany. Regardless, you must get used to saving money because you’ll have to do it often in Germany. In the end, this is what all students do.
With that said, no matter at what stage you are, whether you have only thought of attending a German university in the future or you’re currently applying for a student visa, it’s good to start saving money.
If your parents earn enough to finance your studies in Germany, you can use as a proof of financial resources to get your student visa. For this purpose, the German embassy will require you a bank statement to prove this money belong to your parents and therefore you’ll be able to cover studying and living costs in Germany.
Also, if your parents’ earnings are higher they can cover your spendings for the whole duration of the course. This is a great opportunity for you to fully commit yourself to classes and not worry about your finances.
It’s very common in some families that parents create a personal saving fund for their children so they will be able to afford their education. When it comes to studying abroad in Germany many international students use this money as proof of financial resources.
In the end, if your savings won’t equate the minimum amount of money required to apply for a student visa, they will alleviate other costs that studying in Germany burdens you.
Working Part-time in Germany
The majority of international students in Germany work part-time to cover their living expenses. Germany is a sea of opportunities when it comes to student job opportunities and most of them don’t require a higher level of expertise in a particular professional field in the first place. It’s not surprising that over 60% of international students in Germany work part-time.
Under current legal regulations, international students in Germany are allowed to work up to 120 days of the year.
If you aim to work longer than that, you need to take a specific permission. Two organizations that issue these permissions are the local employment agency (Agentur fur Arbeit) and the foreigners’ registration office (Ausländerbehörde).
However, don’t expect to rely only on your part-time job earnings. Usually, they are not sufficient for covering all expenses as you will need to have other funds. But it still alleviates a huge financial burden from your budget. After all, that’s what most students in Germany do.
If you don’t know how to look for a job we suggest you contact the student service within the university you’re attending or contact the Federal Employment Agency in the local area. They will probably find something that matches what you’re looking for.
You can work full-time during the regular university breaks. You can also work for more hours if you’re job is considered as a mandatory work under certain regulations.
What jobs can I seek as an international student?
There are many part-time jobs you can seek in Germany. However, we recommend you find a job related to your study field. Not only will it help you cover your living expenses, but it will also add credits to your studies.
For example, if you’re a chemistry student, you can work as a staff member at the university lab.
Universities in Germany offer a wide spectrum of part-time jobs for their students. But, if can’t manage to find one within the campus, there are probably many other part-time jobs outside of your campus that you can apply for.
If there’s not a single job that comes to your mind, here are some ideas what you can work as while studying in Germany:
- Academic assistant
- Administrative Staff at Student Services
- A staff member at university’s history museum
- Newspaper distributor
The amount of money you will earn while working part-time in Germany depends on the type of job and your professional skills. Note that if your earnings exceed a fixed limit you’ll be entitled as a regular taxpayer.
Therefore, if you earn above 450 € per month you have to pay taxes. In other words, financing your studies in Germany entirely from your part-time job is impossible. At least with the current legal regulations.
Student loans in Germany
Another way of financing your studies in Germany is by getting student loans. Lucky for you, international students enjoy numerous benefits and one of these benefits is the access to student loan schemes.
There are various governmental-funded and non-governmental funded student loan resources, created to help you finance your studies in Germany by offering loans often with zero or very low rates of interest. Moreover, many German universities have established their own student loan schemes to support foreign students.
Public student loan schemes mostly charge no interest rate, while non-government resources may apply a low rate of interests. Apart from the interest, there may be other limitations, mostly having to do with the time limit within which you’re obligated to pay the money back and the amount of money you can borrow.
Note that you can’t rely only on student loans since the amount you can get from a loan scheme is limited and not enough to cover all expenses. As such, a student loan can only come as a complementary fund to your financial resources for financing studies in Germany.
Before looking out for an organization that can grant you a student loan, it is highly recommended you check if your chosen university donates student loans to foreigner scholars. Below are some resources where you can seek a student loan to finance your studies in Germany.
BAföG – is an abbreviation for the Federal Education and Training Assistance Act. Their mission is to give opportunities to talented students to attend education despite the lack of proper financial means to achieve this. Their funds are rather grants or free-interest loan. From its foundation in 1971, over than four million people have benefited from their services.
Bildungskredit – is another fund that is granted by the German Government in association with a private banking group. In contrast to BAföG, the Bildungskredit is awarded to individuals who are at higher stages of their education and need a loan to carry on. Furthermore, this type of student loan carries a low-interest rate and is not a need-based platform, hence everyone has access to it.
Bank loan systems – In addition to governmental-funded student loans, in Germany there are a large number of banks that have established their own student loan schemes with attractive rates of interest to help incoming foreigners to finance their stay in Germany. The Deutsche Bank, Raiffeisenbanken, Sparkasse, HypoVereinsbank are some of the banks that offer student loans to international students.
Scholarships are another great opportunity to finance your studies in Germany. As a country which welcomes a large number of international students, there are many scholarships offered to talented and skilled students.
Though it’s hard to rely only on scholarships, they will certainly add a great amount of money in your budget to cover your living expenses while studying in Germany. And since there’s a wide variety of them it is highly suggested you seek to get one.
Scholarship resources in Germany
A public-private ownership that aims to support excellent students not just financially but with a bunch of other benefits alongside. Private companies and organization that participate in this scheme contribute to 150€ per month per student. In addition to this, the German contributes to 150€ per month per student, so if you win this scholarship you’ll get 300€ each month.
This funding is mainly offered for two semesters, but it can also be granted for the whole duration of your studies. While funds for these scholarships are granted from the government and private partners, universities are responsible to award them to their students. As such, universities are allowed to set requirements individually.
The DAAD is a large organization, whose mission is to promote the internalization of German universities by creating countless funding and counselling opportunities for inbound and outbound talented students in Germany. Since they came into existence in 1925, millions of foreign students have benefited from DAAD services. In 2016, more than 131,000 German and foreign scholars funded their education with the help of DAAD grants. Today they have a rich list of available scholarships for international students.
The biggest European student exchanging scheme offers some attractive opportunities to study in German for a limited number of semesters or for the whole course. German universities participate in a large number of Erasmus exchanging projects and you can use this route to finance your studies in Germany. Note that some funds may not directly be granted to you, but you will have covered everything while living in Germany.
There are many private foundations that grant scholarship to talented and skilled foreign students attending a university in Germany. Often these scholarships are awarded to honor a highly-respected German personality and aside from ensuring you the funds to finance your studies in Germany, they aim to create bridges of intercultural relations.
Here are some private organization that award scholarship to international students
- Max Plank Society Research
- Heinrich Boll Foundation Scholarship
- DKFZ International PhD Program
Additionally, many universities share a lot of scholarships to international students to help them and boost their attractiveness.