Those who are neither entitled to BAföG nor benefit from a scholarship sometimes have no other choice. In this case, affected students must take out a student loan for studying abroad to finance – be it for living expenses, for tuition fees or for special expenses. The main difference to a “normal” loan is that the sum in question is usually not paid out all at once, but in monthly amounts. And ideally, the conditions also adapt to the needs of young students and young professionals.
Until a few years ago there was still a large selection of student loans and many private and public banks offered their own student loans for studying abroad. In the meantime, however, this selection has become manageable. Most banks broker the KfW student loan from the Reconstruction Loan Corporation and, with a few exceptions, no longer offer their own student loans.
The situation is different with education / study funds, which have long been common in the USA and which have been springing up like mushrooms in Germany for some time now. In the following we give you an overview of the most important student loans and education funds with which you can also finance a semester abroad and sometimes even a full course abroad.
In any case, the following applies: Check and compare the offers and conditions carefully and do not make any hasty decisions. Before you take out an interest-bearing student loan for studying abroad, you should find out about other financing options. In addition to BAföG and BAföG abroad, there are institutions such as the DAAD as well as foundations and gifted support agencies that award full and partial scholarships for studying abroad.
Overview of student loans for studying abroad
The Germany-wide market leader in the field of student loans is the Kreditanstalt für Wiederaufbau (KfW). With its KfW student loan, it has increasingly displaced many other products in this area. The majority of private banks no longer offer their own education or student loans for studying abroad, but instead provide a KfW student loan; so among others Commerzbank, Deutsche Bank, BB Bank, Hypo Vereinsbank.
KfW student loan
The KfW student loan is the best-known and most frequently used loan to finance a degree. It can be requested either directly from KfW Bank or from other providers.
Possible type of study
- Undergraduate courses (Bachelor, State Exam, etc.) as first and second degree
- Postgraduate courses (master’s, postgraduate studies, etc.) and doctorates
- Semesters abroad can be financed as long as you remain enrolled at the German university
- Enrollment in a state-recognized university in Germany
- At the start of financing, no more than 44 years old
- Only for German citizens or EU citizens who have lived in Germany for at least three years
- One-time proof of performance from the 6th semester
- The loan duration depends on the type of study and the age of the borrower
- 100 to 650 euros per month; Depending on the age and the semester of support, the maximum amount of funding is 54,600 euros
- Interest rate: variable, effective annual interest rate: 3.91% (August 2015)
- Repayment only from a net salary of EUR 1,045.04; the maximum repayment period is 25 years (up to the age of 67 at the latest)
KfW student loan
Federal education loan: KfW education loans for studying abroad
In order to support students and to help ensure that an almost finished degree does not have to be abandoned for financial reasons, the state has been offering its own educational loan program since April 2001, in addition to student loans. It can be applied for for universities in Germany or in other European countries, whereby the foreign university must be equivalent to the domestic one. Under these circumstances, internships can even be funded outside of Europe. Because the federal government stands behind the borrower in the event of default, the conditions are comparatively favorable. A permit is granted completely independently of the income of the parents or the student.
However, the student loan can only be used by students in advanced training phases. This means that they have already successfully completed the first part of their studies and can prove this, for example, with the intermediate examination. Such a training loan is approved by the Federal Office of Administration, which attaches a contract offer from KfW to the decision.
Possible type of study
- Bachelor’s / Master’s degree in all subject areas
- A semester abroad is possible
- In the case of a full degree abroad, the prerequisite is that the university attended there is equivalent to a training facility in Germany
- Only suitable for the final phase of studies
- Not more than 35 years old
- EU citizens; Non-EU citizens have to prove a residence status according to § 8 BAföG
- Certificate of enrollment, proof of achievement and proof that the course can be completed within the next two years
- Up to 300 euros a month for a maximum of two years
- A maximum of 7,200 euros in total
- Possible one-time special payment: 3,600 euros
- Variable interest rate; effective annual interest rate currently 1.09% (as of August 2015)
- The repayment takes place four years after the first payment
- Repayment amount: 120 euros / month; Deferral or reduction of the rate is possible
Federal education loan
Sparkasse Herford Student Loan
Not all savings banks have their own student loan on offer. Although the savings banks have a common umbrella organization, they operate autonomously. This can be seen on the one hand in the different types of student loans and on the other hand in the interest rate. Many also often only act as an intermediary for a KfW student loan. With its student loan, Sparkasse Herford currently has the most attractive offer for students who want to study abroad.
Possible type of study
- All Bachelor, Master and PhD courses
- Semesters abroad and full study abroad are possible
- It is possible to change subjects and universities
- No age or nationality restrictions
- Study at a recognized university / technical college (certificate of matriculation)
- A maximum of 30,000 euros within the standard period of study plus 4 semesters
- Monthly payout amount variable up to 800 euros
- In the case of a stay abroad, an extension of the term can be requested
- Possible special payment up to 5,000 euros
- Amortization-free period: 24 months (not mandatory)
- 3.41% fixed rate
- Special repayments are possible at any time
- Repayment duration: a maximum of 10 years