Living Well on a Student Budget
The vast array of subsidies and discounts offered to anyone enrolled at university in Hessen means that students can take advantage of life outside the classroom without breaking the bank. The biggest subsidy of them all – no tuition for the vast majority of degree programs – is often the most surprising one to international students, particularly when they discover that this benefit is the same, regardless of nationality. Although rooms in student dorms are available for between EUR 150 and EUR 300/month, most German students live off campus with their families or in Wohngemeinschaften (WGs), shared apartments or houses. A WG can be a great way to save money while providing near-instant integration into German student life.
The primary on-campus student group, Allgemeiner Studierendenausschuss (AStA), organizes parties and cultural events, maintains a job board, provides counseling services, and serves as the hub of student life on campus. Branching out from campus life, a student ID card provides for significant discounts at cultural events such as free or deeply discounted museum entry or tickets to theater or the opera.
Students generally get around on bike or take advantage of unlimited travel on public transportation or local trains with the “Semester Ticket,” one of the major benefits of the minimal but mandatory semester fees of roughly EUR 190. For longer distances, ride-sharing is common as are inexpensive flights or train tickets.
The Mensa, or cafeteria, serves as a meeting point on campus and is a place to get inexpensive, high-quality meals. Germans generally eat their largest meal at lunch, but lighter fare such as sandwiches and salads are always available. Prices at the Mensa range from EUR 3-5 for a complete meal and there are plenty of other inexpensive options near campus, many serving favorites such as Döner Kebap (similar to a gyro sandwich), pizza, or, of course, Bratwurst and fries. Students who like to cook for themselves often visit discount grocers such as ALDI for quality ingredients that cost significantly less than elsewhere.
The German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) provides its undergraduate scholarship holders with EUR 650/month to cover living costs, which also serves as a good guide for a reasonable student budget. Most international students are also legally allowed to work 90 full days or 180 half days per year, which can also help offset costs.
Because of the large government subsidies in support of higher education, studying in Hessen may be significantly less expensive than in many other destinations – and with no sacrifice in quality.
To find additional information about scholarships for study in Hessen and Germany, please visit: http://www.daad.org.
Photo Credit: Tina Heppenstiel