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In your teen years you’ve no doubt thought about college a LOT. In addition to what and where to study, there’s the dilemma of how to pay for it all.
Rumors have been swirling around my house that college is free in Germany. Having a glorious time paying off my own grad school student loans, I tried to
force encourage my son to consider a good, FREE, German college education. Sadly he doesn’t cotton much to learning foreign languages. Oh well. If you’re not scared of a little German (English is a Germanic language, after all!) and wish to pursue opportunities to study STEM at a world-class institution – for VERY low cost – you must consider Germany!
So is college free in Deutschland?
Well… kinda/sorta/not really. Most German colleges do not charge tuition, but do charge fees. These can vary tremendously; the most expensive fee I’ve come across in my research is approximately $1,800 per semester in the region of Baden-Württemberg. Obviously this is but a pittance compared to what one pays in tuition/fees/student loan interest in the States. As of this writing it seems additional German states are seriously considering charging significant fees, especially for those students hailing from non-EU countries.
In addition to fees, however, you will probably be expected to feed and shelter yourself. If mom and dad can foot the bill for your survival, great! Check with the German consulate on the requirements to prove your expenses are covered while overseas. Alternatively, Germany does offer scholarships for non-native scholars wishing to study there. You can comb through the database of grants and such here.
Must I Sprechen Sie Deutsch?
Now, once the hurdle of how to pay for higher learning is past, it must be kept in mind that undergraduate education in Germany is conducted mostly in German. Ach! Your high school Ich bin, du bist just isn’t gonna cut it. And you better be ready to prove you can speak German like a wayfaring Wienerschnitzel. German universities will require you to take, and pass, an exam to prove you can Sprechen Sie very well, thank you.
Luckily, Germans think of everything. They really do. They know their higher education, while ausgezeichnet, is not easy to pursue by monolingual non-Teutonic mortals. But they’ve got your back.
If you’re interested in studying in Germany for very low cost -AND- obtaining the country’s full support and encouragement in this endeavor, you need to check out Germany’s terrific Study Bridge program (known abroad as Studienbrücke Deutschland). It’s not the easiest program to get into, but it’s worth it for all the hand holding involved. Goodness knows, getting going with college in the US for Americans ain’t no walk in the park, itself.
Studienbrücke Deutschland to the Rescue!
High school juniors who excel in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) pursuits can apply on the Study Bridge website no later than March 30, 2018. You will need to demonstrate a strong desire to pursue a course of study in Germany, high grades in STEM related classes, extracurricular involvement in STEM, and very basic knowledge of German, which can be obtained throughout the course of the application process.
Your recommendations, motivation and education will be thoroughly assessed, and if everything looks promising you’ll be notified of acceptance into the program in mid May. In July or August, you will spend two weeks in Germany at summer camp, meeting other participants and studying German. Keep on studying German in your senior year of high school back home in the USA, as you will be expected to speak, understand and write German at the B1 level upon graduation.
And on to Deutschland!
Now, when you graduate high school in 2019, you’re almost all set for college in beautiful Deutschland! Study Bridge will send you back to Germany to enroll in a year at a German high school. Don’t panic! This opportunity allows you to greatly improve your German; you should be darned near fluent by the end of the school year. Moreover, you will get to know the country and its educational system better, and you will receive comprehensive academic guidance to prepare you for German university study. The end goal is for you to pass the language exam required by universities for matriculation and to ease your way into college – in Germany – like you were born to do it.
As for Study Bridge costs, for students who qualify for the program’s full scholarship, all you’ll need to worry about are your airfare, spending money and medical insurance. More information about Study Bridge and its application requirements can be found on the goethe.de website.
Alles gut? Let’s go!