Scholarships and Counselling

Studying in Germany also represents a financial challenge for many foreign students. Foreign students from the old member states of the European Union and from Iceland, Norway, Liechtenstein and Switzerland do not require the approval of the Federal Employment Agency (Bundesagentur für Arbeit) if they wish to take up employment while studying.

More money (210,00 Euros) laying on a desk.
Foto: Martin Rehm / Bundesagentur für Arbeit

The residence law governs labour market access for students from non-EU countries. This law specifies that the residence permit issued to a foreign student allows that student to take up employment for a total of no more than 90 days respectively no more than 180 half days per year.

Besides this, foreign students can take on temporary or secondary jobs at the university or other academic or research institutes without any such time restrictions. These student jobs also include university-related activities connected to the student's subject of study which her or she performs in university-related organisations (such as tutor positions in the halls of residence run by the student services organisation). However, these activities must not get in the way of the student's actual studies. Any employment extending beyond these time limits requires a work permit.

Financial support and scholarships

Financial support from the German authorities and agencies is possible. Apart from BAföG (national educational assistance), which is only available to specific student categories, various other organisations offer scholarships to fund a study stay in Germany.

If you fulfil certain conditions, you may apply for a DAAD scholarship – although these are not available to first-year students and are only intended for advanced students and (post)graduates. The selection criteria for these scholarships include personal aptitude, performance and achievement, with particular importance attached to German language skills. However, other aspects are also considered. For example, it may be important for students from developing countries to show whether the knowledge, skills and experience gained in Germany will be of particular significance when they return to their home country. You can find out about the various DAAD funding programs by consulting the DAAD Scholarship Database.

Other organisations which award scholarships or grants to foreign students/applicant students under certain conditions, are, for example, the foundations of the political parties, the churches or business and industry, as well as other organisations, such as the Otto Benecke Foundation. Foreign scholars and scientists holding a doctorate can apply to the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation for a research fellowship in Germany.

Support and information

All questions regarding studies by foreign students at German universities should be directed to the International Office (Akademisches Auslandsamt), which each German university maintains.

Over and above this, the student services organisations (Studentenwerke) provide useful information on questions of accommodation and also offer social counselling and advice. This includes support with and advice on any particular problems which foreign students may face.

The Deutsches Studentenwerk (DSW), the umbrella organisation of the student services organisations, has also compiled a brochure with specific information on health and nursing care insurance questions which takes into account the special situation which foreign students find themselves in and additionally gives information on insurance options for foreigners attending Studienkolleg prestudy preparatory/foundation courses and prestudy language courses (Download PDF-brochure).

The International Employment Agency (ZAV), a branch of the Federal Employment Agency, offers graduates from developing countries and countries in transition/transformation countries who return to their home country after completing their studies funding programs for their professional reintegration in their home country. Information on this is available from: www.cimonline.de/de/html/index.html


The portal www.study-in.de provides information on studies and research in Germany as well as on sources of funding for foreign students.

Alexander von Humboldt-Stiftung: Practical hints for your stay in Germany