Germany has zero tuition fees

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Here are 6 pointers on everything you need to know about Germany and its free college:

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  1. Lower Saxony became the last state to abolish  tuition and fees for college going students. Colllege is free not only for German citizens, but even for international students!
  2. Germany, and many other European countries, view higher education as more of a public than a private benefit. They can afford this because the citizens agree to pay higher taxes. Apart from this Germany, when compared to the US has a fewer percentage of students attending college.
  3. In the US, Tennessee has introduced a program of “free” community college tuition, with Chicago and several other U.S. states following suit with proposals, though even that program is pretty limited in the benefit it provides students. At the federal level, policymakers have been primarily focused on how to reduce current debt, or help struggling borrowers with monthly payments by enrolling more borrowers in income-based repayment plans. Others have been focused on the inadequacy of grant aid in meeting the needs of students, but there has yet to be a push to fully abolish tuition and fees, or take much autonomy away from the states and institutions who make those decisions.
  4. In the United States, ust 20 years ago, fewer than half of graduates borrowed for college (compared to 7 in 10 graduates today). And just 30 years ago, you could finance a year’s worth of tuition at a minimum-wage summer job. But due to deep and unrelenting state budget cuts, inadequate grant aid, and poor targeting of some of the subsidies we do provide, that time seems as foreign as Germany’s system does today.
  5. Germany is not unique in this system. Many countries have either free higher education, or extremely low tuition and grant aid that offsets it for most students. They include Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden, Mexico, Brazil. Beyond “free” education, Australia and New Zealand have a system tuition and fees, backed with student loan repayment that is entirely based on what you earn after leaving school. Student borrowers who make less than $50,000 a year owe zero monthly payments, and never pay more than 8 percent of income.

Citizens of the US who hope to make college affordable even in the states must know this: At the federal level, we have a system of federal financial aid that could go a lot further in meeting the costs of college. The Pell Grant, our cornerstone piece of financial aid, used to cover nearly three-quarters of the cost of college. Now, as costs have risen and grant aid has stagnated, it covers one-third. Congress has an opportunity during the upcoming reauthorization of the Higher Education Act to return grant aid to a reasonable percentage of college costs, which would go a long way in helping stem the rising tide of student debt.

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9 COMMENTS

  1. I just sent this to a good friend of mine who lives in Mainz Germany. She has assured me that this is FALSE. I will be unfollowing after this comment post. Accuracy is of the utmost importance and any legitimate ANONS are aware of this. All posts such as these dilute the credibility of the rest.

    • @Danielle Purdy: I am german and can tell your german contact is wrong. Nevertheless with the “Bologna-process” in 1999 germany went on a bad road to follow the US-system. For me it was a desaster due to several reasons. 10 years later the first states in germany began to cut the fees again which took other states about 4 years to finally follow up. The only fee remaining is the one we had before as well, the administration fee per semester. But really, thats totally ok.

    • @Danielle Purdy …….. I am an nternatonal student n germany and confirm you that this 1000000000000% true ….. i can’t say about 1 or 2 private univerity but all the public universities and colleges are 100% free which makes up almost 98-99% of education system….. moreover germany offers to all it students in unversities a 6 month semeter ticket for travelling (in some universities for whole state) for just 250-300 euros….

  2. This is both true and not true.

    There are no general tuition fees, but there are administrative fees per semester. These can ammount to several hundred Euro per semester. However, these have been in place for ages and when you realize that you’re probably paying about 2000 Euro for your 3-4 year tuition, were’re back in the days where you could afford your study with a summertime job. Also, in most cases the administration fee brings a free public transport ticket, which not only allows you free travel in the city you study but usually free travel in the federal state you study.

    You still have to pay for printed scripts and stuff, but these might be less of an issue in the days of the internet.

    On top of this, there is a federal program which pays up to around 500 Euro per month of you want to study but could not afford it (however, the income of your parents is taken into account here). You have then 10 years to repay what you got this way at an interest rate of zero percent. If you are able to repay the whole ammount after ten years in one go, you only have to repay part of it. I seem to remember that it was 50% back then.

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