Saxony became the last German state to eliminate tuition in October 2014, providing free university education for anyone who wants it. Even non-German students became eligible.
Meanwhile, average debt for a U.S. graduate student is US$30,000. In the 2014-2015 academic year, students at private U.S. universities paid on average more than US$31,000 for tuition and fees, and many paid over US$50,000, according to the Chronicle of Higher Education. Public university students paid more than US$9,000 and out-of-state students paid almost US$23,000, according to College Board.
As a whole, the United States has a student debt load of US$1.3 trillion. That’s more than double the entire U.S. government deficit for 2014.
As a result of the rising education costs in the United States and the universal scope of Germany’s free education system, the number of American students in Germany has shot up. Currently, about 4,600 U.S. students are enrolled in German universities, up 20% from three years ago. Generally, they pay a fee of no more than 150 euros per semester.
It’s a simple economic choice for most students: tens if not hundreds of thousands of dollars in tuition and debt for a U.S. university degree or a free German degree. It’s not as if German degrees are undistinguished. German universities appear 6 times in the top 100 of the Global University Rankings by U.S. News and World Report.
It’s not only U.S. students getting in on the deal. Germany currently hosts more than 150,000 international students, with 25,000 in Berlin alone. One university boasts students from more than 50 countries. At Technical University of Munich, 20% of students are foreign.
While some might see this as an unsustainable strain on the German public purse, others say that Germany’s benefit from universal education outweighs the cost.
“It’s not unattractive for us when knowledge and know-how come to us from other countries and result in jobs when these students have a business idea and stay in Berlin to create their start-up,” Berlin’s Secretary of Science Steffen Krach told the BBC.
According to the German Academic Exchange Service, about 50% of foreign students stay in Germany.
A few other resources for anyone interested in studying in Germany:
http://www.studying-in-germany.org/ — Information about Studying in Germany.
http://www.germany-visa.org/student-visa/ — Information about Germany Student Visa and requirements.
http://www.germanyhis.com/health-insurance-students/ — Information about Germany Health Insurance for Students.