German public colleges now free to native and foreign students


Photo courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons

The back-side of the University of Heidelberg, known for their prestigious Nobel Prize winning students.

Vincent Hsueh, Contributing Writer

On Oct. 9, all public colleges in Germany abolished the required tuition fees for students around the world.

All public German universities have become tuition-free to students around the world. Germany has been offering limited tuition-free colleges to students since 2006. However, on Oct. 9, Lower Saxony became known as the final state to abolish required tuition fees in public universities. According to, world-renowned colleges like the Heidelberg University, known for it’s many Nobel Prize recipients, have begun to provide both native and foreign students with a free tuition.

“I like the idea of students being able to end their educational experience and not be stuck with an incredible amount of student loan debt, which I think many of our students right now are facing,” counselor Elizabeth Taylor said. “It becomes stressful because colleges are expensive.”

As of now, student loan debt in the United States has increased over $1 trillion since 2008, according to the Institute for College Access and Success. Unlike U.S. colleges, German universities had relatively inexpensive tuition before the current policy was implemented.  While tuition fees at American colleges like UCLA may average up to $37,000 a year,German tuition fees used to cost up to $630 per semester, which is less than the amount needed for a textbook in the United States according to Not only do these German schools now provide free tuition, but they also provide helpful services and discounts to foreign students.

“There are many schools where 30 to 40 percent of students attending are paying little to no tuition at all, due to scholarships and grants; there are a pretty great number of students who equally do not have to pay full-tuition, but they have to have a financial need,” Taylor said.

German universities give $12,000 in student loan, which is required to be paid in 20 years, whereas U.S. colleges provide as much as $30,000 in financial aid, which is required to be paid throughout the school year instead, according to the Federal Training Assistance Act. When the tuition becomes free, the country loses money in what it usually gains through students. As a result, federal ministries of each state are required to give support to the colleges in their areas, compensating for their loss in money,according to

Besides the normal checks on credentials and records, foreign students are required to know basic German to speak among their peers and teachers, according After passing these requirements, students are then provided tuition-free education for the next four years of their lives.