Student life is so expensive

A student needs an average of 900 euros a month. But then he is not allowed to live in Heidelberg or Munich. In this winter semester, parents will have to spend more money on their offspring again.

In demand among students: a place in the dormitory

Hpublicly, it is no longer the case for first-year students like that young fellow who moved to a university town in southern Germany to study medicine. Having just arrived in town, he keeps asking for financial help from home. Every moment he had to write his mom about money, for which he hatched the most adventurous explanations, Thomas Mann had his character Doctor Selten report in the story “Favor”. The increased expenses are less due to studying than to going to the theater for the sake of love. In the end, the student was above all richer in experience.

To this day, it’s about money for students. In addition to the timetable, the 2.8 million students in Germany need the equally important financing plan: How high will my expenses be? What do I need anyway? And how can I pay for that? This is how the great haggling with father and mother begins before studying: How much can and do you want to give your children in the next years of training?

Studies are not free of charge, even if no federal state charges more tuition fees. What a student shack costs nowadays in the coveted big cities only comes to the fore at the start of the semester. Quite a few will say that it was completely different when they were studying. In this winter semester, parents will have to spend more money on their offspring again: higher housing costs have been increasing the cost of university life for years. Only the fifth of students who continue to live in their parents’ home save these costs.

How can you study cheaply?

Students who no longer live at home receive an average of 918 euros per month. This is the result of the latest social survey by the German Student Union from 2016. The students spend a third of this money on the apartment, followed by food as the next expense item. Such a student needs a lot: clothes, books or the semester ticket. Also, nobody will do without an Internet connection and a smartphone anymore. You need this to exchange ideas in digital study groups or to watch a math tutorial on YouTube (if the parents ask), but of course also to watch Netflix series or all sorts of funny films at night (which the parents don’t know about). If not already available, the initial equipment includes a laptop in addition to a bed, desk and cooking pots.

Image: FAZ

How can you study cheaply? Dormitory or shared apartment instead of your own apartment, peripheral location instead of downtown, used furniture instead of furniture store. But it depends even more on the place of study, because prices are worlds apart between Munich and Magdeburg. However, the options are limited; they depend on the desired subject and differences between the universities. For example, those who want to hear the mathematician and Fields Prize winner Peter Scholze in Bonn, the physicist and former astronaut Ulrich Walter in Munich or the artist Judith Hopf in Frankfurt cannot move anywhere else.

The most important source of income for students in Germany are their own parents. According to the social survey of the student union, father and mother co-finance the studies of 86 percent of the students and pay an average of 541 euros. 61 percent work on the side and earn an average of 385 euros a month, 25 percent receive state payments under the Federal Training Assistance Act (Bafög). Other relatives, personal savings or grants help to a lesser extent.

The course has long since become a major project for the whole family

The range is wide, income is higher in the west than in the east, and older students have more available than younger students. The monthly budget ranges from less than 670 euros (every fifth student) to more than 1300 euros (every tenth student). 28 percent have up to 700 euros, almost every third student receives more than 1,000 euros, and around 40 percent are in between. That is quite adequate for this phase of life. “We would be the last to start the lament of student poverty,” says Stefan Grob, deputy general secretary of the German Student Union in Berlin. Students also have all kinds of cultural options: theaters offer inexpensive tickets, university sports cost little, and they can travel cheaply in local transport or by regional train through their state.