Costs and Financing Your Studies

Deutsches Studentenwerk_Tips for International Students - How do I finance my studies in Germany

Video: German National Association for Student Affairs Tips for International Students – How do I finance my studies in Germany? (English)



BAföG (state financial assistance for education)

Under certain conditions, international students may be entitled to receive BAföG (financial assistance in accordance with the federal law on education and training grants). More information can be found here [in German].

If you are entitled to receive BAföG, you can apply for it at Studierendenwerk Bielefeld, the local students’ service organisation.

Living expenses in and around Bielefeld

Students in Bielefeld need around €700–800/month in order to cover their costs. Their actual expenses highly depend on their lifestyles, of course. Museums, theatre, cinemas, etc. often offer discounts for students.

For one month, you should expect the following costs:

  • Accommodation: €300–400
  • Food: €300
  • Statutory health insurance: €100-120
  • Public transport: free (included in the semester contribution)
  • Materials for your studies:  €50–75
  • Semester contribution: €50–60 (€330 per semester)
  • TV and radio licence fee: €18.36
  • Leisure/miscellaneous: €100


  • A meal at the canteen/cafeteria: €2–6
  • A litre of milk: €1.15
  • A kg of rice: €2.45
  • A kg apples: €3–4
  • 0.5 L beer (at the pub): €4
  • A kg bread (at the bakery): €3–5
  • A jar of Nutella (450 g): €3.50
  • A cinema ticket (with student discount): €8–12
  • A theatre ticket (with student discount): €10–30
  • A second-hand bicycle: €50–300
  • A pair of shoes: €30–100
  • A t-shirt: €10–50

You will find further information on living expenses for students in Germany here.

Semester contribution and semester ticket

At HSBI, you usually do not have to pay any tuition fees (exception: part-time master’s and certificate study programmes). You will only pay a semester contribution, which amounts to approximately €330 per semester for most study programmes. You will find further information here (German only).

The semester contribution is partly used for financing the semester ticket. With this ticket, you can use the local public transport (bus, tram) and all local trains of Deutsche Bahn in North Rhine-Westphalia. You will find further information here.

TV and radio licence fee

In Germany, each household has to pay a TV and radio licence fee of €18.36 per month. From this fee, public service broadcasting incl. online offers (ARD, ZDF, Deutschlandradio etc.) is financed. In this case, it does not matter, whether you actually own a TV or radio. If you live alone, you will have to pay the fee by yourself; in a shared flat, you will share the costs with your flatmates.

Students who receive BAföG can apply to be exempt from the TV and radio licence fee.

Working in Germany

Part-time alongside studies:

In Germany, students can work or complete an internship alongside their studies. However, you should observe legal regulations and take care not to neglect your studies.

In principle: Students are allowed to work up to 20 hours a week during the lecture period.

Students from non-EU countries are allowed to work up to 120 full days or 240 half days a year.

Please note:

  • Compulsory internships do not count for the 120-days rule, but voluntary internships do.
  • A job at the university (e.g. as student assistant) does not count for the 120-days rule.


After finishing your studies:

Students from the EU have free access to the German employment market after graduation.

Students from non-EU countries can extend their residence permit by a maximum of 18 months after graduation, in order to find suitable employment in Germany. You can apply for this extension at the appropriate foreigners’ office.

As soon as you have found a job in Germany, you can apply for a residence permit or the “EU Blue Card” for your extended stay at the foreigners’ office.

Please note:

  • During the 18 months you have to seek employment, you will still have to be able to prove that you can finance your living expenses (e.g. through a blocked account or a letter of commitment by a relative in Germany).
  • When looking for employment, make sure that it matches your qualification and that the salary will suffice for covering your living expenses. This will be checked by the foreigners’ office when you apply for a residence permit.


You will find job advertisements and further information here:

For students and graduates:

HSBI job board

HSBI career centre: Career advice for students from the Faculty of Engineering and Mathematics