Does the University of Cologne charge tuition fees and what exactly is the social fee ("Semesterbeitrag")?
The University of Cologne does not charge any tuition fees.
Each semester, all enrolled students of the University of Cologne have to pay a social fee ("Semesterbeitrag"). The social fee is newly calculated each semester and consists of a social contribution fee for the "Kölner Studierendenwerk" (KSTW) as well as for the General Students´ Commitee ("AStA"). Additionally, it finances university sports and the semester ticket (use of public transport in the Federal State of North Rhine-Westphalia with the UC Card). Please find the current amount of the social fee contribution in this overview.
Costs of Living in Cologne
According to the 21st Social Survey of the "Deutsches Studentenwerk" (2017) the cost of living for a student in Cologne are at least 832,00 €:
Rent (including extra charges)
Semester fee *
Health insurance, Medical fees
Communication (Phone, Internet)
* The semester fee has to be paid each semester/6 months and amounts to 279,65 € (as of summer semester 2020). It includes a ticket for public transportation in the federal state of North Rhine-Westphalia.
Financing your Stay
Finances play a central role when you plan a course of study at the University of Cologne. There are many different establishments and organisations to which you can apply as a foreign or graduate student for individual grants or scholarships. The standards are very different, but in the majority of cases the deciding factor is academic potential and not financial need.
the German Embassy or Consulate. You can find out there whether there are lecturers of the DAAD near you.
The DAAD offers the largest scholarship program. For applying, you need a university diploma which is equivalent to a German university diploma or you study German Literature at an advanced level. The application has to be done in your home country!
Scholarship program of the University of Cologne
The University of Cologne offers a scholarship program for German and international students. The program consists of three grants:
Deutschlandstipendium des Bundes
Sozialstipendium der Universität zu Köln (social scholarship)
Stipendium für Studierende mit Behinderung oder chronischer Erkrankung (scholarship for students with disability and chronic disease)
All grants are of 300 €/month and are awarded depending the academic performance. For the "Sozialstipendium" and the "Stipendium für Studierende mit Behinderung oder chronischer Erkrankung" social criteria are decisive as well.
Working and studying
It is common that most of the students work while they study. However, studying shall be first priority - a fact that is controlled by the legal regulations in regard to work permission for international students from Non-EU-/EEA Countries.
To EU-/EEA Citizens apply the same employment regulations as to German students: during lecture period they are allowed to work up to 20 hours per week and during the semester break up to 40 hours per week.
International students have to consider legal restrictions when working. This way, financing the costs of living by working is not possible, at best international students can earn some extra money. International students are allowed to work up to 120 full days (4-8 hours per day) or 240 half days (1-4 hours per day) per year. This regulations also applies for paid and unpaid internships! A job as a student assistant at a university is permitted, so a student assistant is allowed to work more.
In any case, please inform the Foreigners Registration Office on your employments and be sure of the documentation of the time period you are working.
If you have a job which exceeds the regulation of 120/240 days (e.g. full-time internship of at least six months) you have to apply for a permit at the Foreigners Registration Office. Please consult us before doing so.
Scholarship holders who are awarded a grant are usually not allowed to work. This is mentioned in the residence permit in the passport. Scholarship holders who entered Germany wihtout any visa have to ask for permission at the scholarship provider before starting a job.
There can be special work regulations for doctoral students. If you have any questions please contact us or come to our personal consultation hours.