Financing your Studies

Financing your studies

Financing your Studies

How to finance studying can be the main preoccupation of many students ─ but, from grants to scholarships, there are many options.

Financing your Studies

Tuition fees

Tuition fees were abolished in all public universities in Hamburg in 2012. However, students are still required to pay a so-called semester contribution (Semesterbeitrag), which amongst other services, covers a semester pass for the HVV public transport network in Hamburg. The amount varies from university to university, but generally lies around 315€ per semester. Private universities do charge tuition fees, which are considerably higher than the semester contribution.

There are, of course, other expenses that every student needs to prepare for such as rent, food and study material. Health insurance is mandatory to work and study in Germany, and should be accounted for as an additional cost.


BAföG ("Bundesausbildungsförderungsgesetz") is a type of government funding for students in Germany. Only half of the total funding needs to be paid back as an interest-free loan after graduation ─ the other half is a grant. In certain cases, international students may be elegible for BAföG. It has to be said that receiving BAföG is easier for EU-citizens than it is for other international students. As a general rule, BAföG entitlement is needs-based and depends on how long you have lived in Germany for, and on how long you plan to stay.

Visit Studierendenwerk Hamburg to view the criteria for receiving BAföG as an international student.

Funding and scholarships

Some organisations offer scholarships especially for international students. The non-profit organisation DAAD (German Academic Exchange Service) has a comprehensive database of scholarships which can be filtered for country of origin and study programme. Scholarships are typically paid on a monthly basis, and should be used to cover living costs, health insurance and study material. Some scholarships are awarded to enable students to attend conferences, academies and language courses. A popular scholarship is the Deutschlandstipendium which is open to everyone ─ regardless of nationality or personal or parental income.

Part-time jobs

Another option to help fund your studies is taking up a part-time job. However, there may be restrictions on the number of hours you're allowed to work as an international student. In addition, working may affect or change the type of visa you need. In general, students shouldn't exceed 20 working hours per week, in order to avoid having to pay contributions to state welfare.