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Student Loans in Germany for International Students

a student smiling inside the library with his book and notebooks place on top of the table.

Studying in Germany isn’t expensive, in fact, it’s almost free. You only need to manage your living expenses to study in Germany. Nonetheless, many students don’t have a budget even for this. In that case, loans come in handy.

Student loans for international students in Germany include state-backed financing like BAföG or KfW student loans, as well as traditional personal loans. However, it’s difficult to qualify for a governmental loan as a foreign national. Those types of lending have rigid rules on who is qualified or not.

Are you studying in Germany and need money for some reason? The German universities are almost free. Therefore, financing options are very limited, particularly for international students who don’t have prior experience of living in Germany. The best way to support yourself while studying in Germany is to work a part-time job. If it’s not a viable option for you, here are all the lending possibilities you got.

Learn about financing during Ausbildung in Germany.

Can international students get a loan in Germany?

Generally, international students can get a loan in Germany, but it depends on many factors. State-sponsored loans such as BAföG or KfW have stick requirements, where only a small category of foreign nationals qualify for lending.

As an international student best way to finance studies in Germany is by working a part-time job. You are eligible to work 120 full days or 240 half-days per year. Some typical student jobs are bartending, cafe servicing, babysitting, or tutoring.

Another option is to get a personal loan. Those are given for any purpose, not only to cover study expenses.

To receive a governmental loan, you will need to have a long-term residence permit or reside in Germany for at least 5 years. You are also eligible for a student loan if you are a citizen of the EU/EEA or have strong ties to Germany like a father, mother, child, or spouse.

Student loans in Germany: what are your options?

a student studying using her laptop while checking her notes.

Your eligibility for a loan and lending options mainly depend on your nationality.

The most essential factor for granting student loans to international students is highly correlated to their legal residence status in Germany. This, on the other hand, depends on your nationality, EU or non-EU in particular.

Generally, there are numerous options to get financing in Germany. It can range from financial support from parents to various part-time jobs during studies, subsidies to loans, and credit cards.

Here are the main lending options for international students in Germany:

  • BAföG
  • KfW student loan
  • Personal loan

You certainly should look into all options and select a suitable loan for your situation.

1. BAföG

BAföG or Federal Training Assistance Act is the most common financing option used by German students. About 25% of students use this opportunity to finance their studies.

Initially, the program was created for German students, but today it has become available for foreign nationals too. Yet, BAföG has strict requirements where international students have only little chance.

Students receive up to 860 EUR per month with the help of BAföG, where half of the funding is given as a grant, and the rest has to be paid back under a low interest rate.

This amount varies depending on your living situation, your parent’s income, and your health insurance status. Your parents must have a low income for you to receive a grand.

The biggest advantage of BAföG is that you receive half of the funding as a free grant.

Information about BAföG:

  • Students receive payments monthly and not as a one-time payout
  • No interest rate
  • Students must start the repayment no later than 5 years after the last payment

Not only does BAföG have strict requirements for non-EU students, but also for local German applicants. Here are the main requirements for German students who want to receive a BAföG:

  • University must be eligible for funding
  • Student must be a German citizen
  • Studies should begin before the age of 30
  • It should be the first education if possible
  • Parents cannot provide financial support
  • Studies take place in another city

As a result, only 20% of students in Germany are eligible for BAföG

Here are the main requirements for non-EU/EEA citizens:

  1. Refugees, eligible for asylum or considered as an asylum seekers with good prospects of staying from the following countries: Eritrea, Iran, Iraq, Syria and Somalia
  2. Permanent residency in Germany with at least one parent that has German or EU nationality
  3. Permanent residency in Germany and spouse or life partner has German or EU nationality
  4. At least one of your parents has lived in Germany for the last 6 years and has been gainfully employed for at least 3 years
  5. Lived in Germany for at least 5 years before starting your studies and financed your livelihood yourself

* Some exceptions are possible for students with a strong prospect of remaining in Germany, e.g., married to a German. It will be decided on an individual basis.

Required documents for BAföG

To successfully apply for BAföG, you need to prove one of the above-mentioned criteria with corresponding papers. This can be residence permits, passports, proof of income and assets, etc. In addition, you need to provide a confirmation of enrolment from your university.

Nonetheless, an international student who came to Germany to study has very little chance of getting a BAföG. In most cases, they haven’t resided in Germany prior to their studies.

2. Student loan or Studienkredit 

A student loan, also referred to as student credit, is a very common way to finance studies in Germany. KfW is the most popular for student loans in Germany.

They provide loans for students in their Bachelor’s, Master and Ph.D. programs. However, international students can receive financing only under particular conditions.

Firstly we need to differentiate a student loan from any other loan. A student loan, in particular, is meant to finance the cost of living and study expenses of students. You can’t use it for any other reason (at least officially).

With a student loan from KfW bank, students receive between 100 EUR and 650 EUR per month in their bank account. A loan can be granted for up to 14 semesters and 54,600 EUR in total.

The repayment starts after 18 and 23 months from the last loan payment. Hence, you pay back after finishing your studies.

Who’s eligible for the student loan?

These loans are widely accessible for German and EU citizens who are living in Germany.

However, a non-EU student must first meet the requirements. To qualify for a student loan from KfW, students must be between the ages of 18 and 44 and be enrolled at the German University. In addition, applicants must meet the following criteria:

  1. Be a dependent of a German citizen also living in Germany
  2. Have a family member who is living in Germany and an EU/German citizen
  3. Be a “Bildungsinländer:innen”, which means a student has acquired their university entrance qualification in Germany or at a German school abroad.

Yet, there are even more requirements:

  • Your family members from EU citizens must have been living in Germany for at least 3 years
  • Your family members who are German also must have been living in Germany for more than 3 years

Here is what you need to know about the KfW student loan:

  • The interest rate is 4.36%
  • Payouts are made monthly, in installments over a longer period of time
  • Monthly payments up to 650 EUR
  • KfW doesn’t require collateral
  • Repayment is made at the end of the term after graduation

However, you need to keep in mind, that:

  • It must be repaid over many years
  • You can’t use the money for purposes other than studying expenses (including your cost of living)

3. Personal loan

A personal loan or installment loan is a lending type that is offered by the bank and paid out a single payment. You can use the money for anything, not only for study-related expenses.

There are various banks and other financial organizations that provide personal loans for students, however, one must have a stable income to receive it.

Besides, to qualify for a personal loan, you don’t need to be enrolled at a university in Germany. Everyone with an income source can apply for this type of lending. In some cases, you might need to provide collateral, e.g., in the form of guarantees.

You can see all available loan options on Smava. This platform finds the best offers for your particular situation.

Students need to keep in mind that the conditions for private loans aren’t as favorable as with BAföG or student loans. Yet, international students have higher chances of approval, assuming the have an income source.

What you need to know about the personal loan:

  • The interest rate ranges between 1% and 14% depending on the bank
  • One time payment
  • Repayment starts right after you have received the money
  • Repayment is made over a longer period of time
  • Banks often have special conditions for students
  • You can apply and receive a personal loan entirely online, with minimum paperwork

Main requirements for a personal loan as a non-EU/EEA citizen:

  1. Income source or a guarantee
  2. Residence in Germany
  3. Current bank account in Germany

Compare the best personal loans in Germany by using the tool below:

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Best loans for international students in Germany

Here are our recommended providers for getting a personal loan in Germany, especially if you are a foreigner with a limited residence permit. We have compared all loan options based on these criteria:

  • Approval rate
  • Ease of application (essential for non-German speakers)
  • Loan term
  • Interest rate
  • Flexibility
  • Customer reviews

[table id=27 /]

1. Smava

Smava is our preferred solution for foreigners who want to take out a personal loan in Germany. It’s the biggest online platform where you can:

  • find
  • select
  • apply for
  • and receive a loan in Germany

Smava gives an overview of 70 loans from more than 20 leading credit banks, e.g., Commerzbank, Postbank, Sparkasse, and Deutsche Bank, among others, as well as online and peer-to-peer lenders. For any help, you can reach out to one of 200 loan advisors.

Conditions and benefits of personal loan with Smava:

  • comparison is 100% free
  • loan offers from various banks with favorable conditions
  • neutral SCHUFA request: your loan application doesn’t affect your credit score
  • loans from 500 EUR to 120,000 EUR
  • loans for the self-employed and students
  • interest rates from 0,68%
  • loan terms from 6 to 120 months
  • fast processing time (max. 3 working days)
  • fast loan payment
  • highly rated by customers

Smava is Germany’s largest loan comparison website, which is offering quick, easy, and affordable loans since 2007.

To receive a loan, you must prove an income source.

Read our full review on Smava.

2. Auxmoney

Auxmoney offers loans for students at higher interest rates, yet, with a much higher success chance. It’s only possible thanks to the concept the platform works on. Auxmoney is a peer-to-peer lending marketplace, meaning you receive financing not from the bank but from a private investor.

They have provided hundreds of loans since 2007. In addition, all process happens online, you don’t need to visit any office, and you can use borrowed money for any purpose.

It’s an online platform that eliminates the high cost and complexity of financing via traditional banks. Therefore, they also have lower requirements and rejection rates from which students can benefit, in particular.

Moreover, you can apply for a loan even if a traditional bank rejects your loan application. The application and the whole process at Auxmoney is done online.

Over the company’s history, Auxmoney has given over 325,000 loans of more than 2 milliard EUR. They are rated as 4,8 out of 5 in service and offerings.

Information about the personal loan from Auxmoney:

Loan approval even with a low credit score
Loans from 1,000 EUR to 50,000 EUR
Reasonable interest rates
Instant quote/offer
Loan terms between 12 and 84 months
A completely online process with no paperwork
Loan approval is possible even after refusal from a traditional bank

From our research and experience, Auxmoney is by far the best and easiest place you can get a loan as a foreigner. The refusal rate is very low as well as the requirements.

To get a loan with Auxmoney, as a foreign student, you need:

  • an address
  • a German bank account
  • a source of income
  • in order to receive a loan.

If you meet these requirements, you have a great chance of receiving a loan from Auxmoney.

Read our full review about Auxmoney.

3. Santander BestCredit

Santander is a large international bank with attractive loan options. In Germany, it’s one of the 5 largest banks. Here are details about the BestCredit loan with Santander:

  • Great interest rates – from 1.99% to 7.98%; 3,48% is typical
  • Fast approval
  • Loans from 1,000 EUR to 60,000 EUR
  • Loan terms from 12 to 96 months
  • You can apply and receive a loan online

Compare personal loans

Before taking a loan, you should check all options available and choose the best conditions for your situation. For this, use comparison websites such as Tarifcheck, Verivox, and Smava. 

Tarifcheck is the first place where you can pick the best loan in Germany. It has a large database of banks and offers. Besides, the process is super simple.

While Verivox is one of the largest German platforms to compare not only loans but all sorts of stuff, including car insurances, internet & mobile deals, and electricity & gas plans. It can be a useful resource for any case.

Read more on best personal loans in Germany.


Taking a personal loan in Germany

Consequently, taking out a personal loan can be a good alternative if you don’t qualify for a student credit in Germany. Luckily, some loans are accessible for students in Germany without many requirements.

How do you take out a loan in Germany? You can do this in the following steps:

Find a suitable loanUse one of the search platforms to find a loan, e.g., Smava and Tarifcheck.de. These tools scan tens of banks and deliver terms and conditions that suit you.
Complete application formAfter choosing a loan, you can fill out the application form.
Prepare documentsStudents should provide proof of studies and information about income, e.g., collateral or guarantors.
Wait for loan approvalIf the loan is granted, you will receive a loan proposal from the bank.
Go through Post IDENTNowadays, you can get a loan 100% online. It’s usually done via video verification.
Get your moneyAfter everything is done and the loan agreement is signed, you will receive the amount as a one-time payment on your bank account.

Get a job

German universities already have absurdly low tuition fees (between 150 EUR and 350 EUR for a semester). Therefore, the loan isn’t necessary to study in Germany. You only need to take care of your living expenses.

This can be done by working a part-time job and asking for a little support from your family. Luckily, international students can work 120 full days or 240 half-days per year, which will be sufficient to make at least 400 EUR per month.

Students often work in service, e.g., in bars, cafes, and restaurants. But there are plenty of student jobs available in every city. You can even find a part-time position in the area of your studies.

Read more about how to work as a student in Germany in this detailed article.

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