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News of 03.07.2019

Three-quarters of all german students start their working lives with no university-related debts

The number of new student loans taken out in Germany has fallen by a third over the past five years. Given that the number of BAföG recipients is also constantly decreasing, the majority of students enter the world of work without any university-related debts. These are the findings of the latest CHE Student Loan Test 2019.

Around 93,000 students in Germany currently use a student loan to help finance their studies. Just less than half of all current contracts (43 per cent) were taken out last year. The number of students who take up a student loan has been declining dramatically for years. In 2013, the number of new student loans taken out was 60,000; five years later, the figure was only around 40,000.

“A clear trend is apparent,” explained Ulrich Müller: “There’s less demand for all types of external financial assistance such as BAföG student grants, scholarships and student loans – even though student numbers are increasing.” The CHE student loan expert believes that the economic situation and flexible degree programmes enable students to finance their time at university with support from their parents or by taking on a part-time job.

At present, 3.2 per cent of students make use of a student loan. The percentage of people who take out an interest-free top-up loan in the form of a BAföG grant to finance their studies has also been decreasing for years.

Finance expert Müller believes this to be a positive development. “Around three-quarters of those currently studying in Germany will go on to enter the world of work without any university-related debts. This is a comfortable position to be in, compared to the USA, where graduates leave university with average debts exceeding $30,000. There are numerous state financial support programmes in Germany, which is why student loans are only used to plug any final funding gaps.”

Another factor is that, with BAföG grants, at least half of the amount allocated does not need to be repaid, and the maximum BAföG repayment amount is €10,000, noted Müller. This is why BAföG is always preferable to a student loan.

According to the survey of loan providers conducted by the CHE Centre for Higher Education, banks, loan associations and education funds pay out around €47 million to students each month − an average of €504 per person. The KfW Student Loan and the Federal Office of Administration’s Education Loan continue to lead the market. More than 90 per cent of all loans taken out in 2018 were with one of these two state providers.

The results of the CHE Student Loan Test 2019 show that all of the standard loans on offer in Germany are reliable and well designed. Many of the 49 student loans and education funds tested gained top marks in several of the five assessment categories (access, volume, costs, risk mitigation and flexibility).

Even so, CHE’s Ulrich Müller advises students to scrutinise the loans on offer and any funding alternatives.
Extreme caution should be exercised with peer-to-peer loans on the internet; such models are not geared to students’ needs and are usually overpriced, the expert warned.

About the CHE Student Loan Test:
The CHE Student Loan Test 2019, developed in collaboration with Handelsblatt, was published this year for the fourteenth time. Using 21 individual criteria, it assesses the advantages and disadvantages of 49 student loans that are currently on offer. The test is based on information given by the loan providers. The wide range of detailed information provided in the publication gives students and prospective students a transparent overview of the market. In addition, students can use tables to calculate their individual requirements. The CHE Student Loan Test is freely available at

Further Information can be found in the publication stated below.

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Ulrich Müller
Ulrich Müllermehr
Phone: +49 5241 9761-56
Fax: +49 5241 9761-40
Anita Schmitzmehr
Phone: +49 5241 9761-41

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