What you should know about German boarding schools

Altogether there are some 300 boarding schools in Germany at present, of which about a third are in private ownership without denominational affiliations. They are often categorised into girls’ boarding schools, boys’ boarding schools or schools without gender separation. At German boarding schools various examinations can be taken, such as the “Mittlere Reife Hauptschulabschluß” (Middle Level High School Certificate) and the Abitur (School-Leaving Exam).

Types of German boarding schools

When searching for a suitable boarding school, you can choose between the following types of school:

  • Primary school
  • Lower Secondary school
  • Commercial school
  • Secondary modern school
  • Secondary school (emphasizing humanities, mathematics and science or modern languages)
  • Secondary school preparation class
  • Special needs school
  • College
  • Vocational technical school
  • Vocational seconday school
  • Technical secondary school
  • Technical academy

Boarding School Sponsors in Germany
Boarding schools differ in their orientation and educational aims. This depends on what sponsorship they come under.

A distinction is made between various educational approaches (eg Steiner, Montessori, Sudbury, etc), and dependence on religion. Others work on a private sector basis.

Alongside these independently sponsored boarding schools there are also state boarding schools:

  • Catholic boarding schools
  • Protestant boarding schools
  • State Educational Homes (LEH)
  • Christian Youth Villages (CJD)
  • Elite sport schools
  • State boarding schools
  • Independent Waldorf Schools
  • Independent boarding schools

Catholic Boarding Schools

Boarding schools sponsored by Catholic Orders constitute the largest group of boarding schools. They are organised as places of Christian life and learning and look back on the longest tradition of education. As long as there are monasteries and convents, there will always be Catholic schools and boarding schools. Their offer, usually exclusively for Catholic pupils, comprises:

  • Day Boarding Schools, which offer all-day care. This even extends to supervised homework.
  • Weekly boarding schools, which offer the opportunity to go home every two weeks.
  • Boarding schools which are also open to pupils at the weekends.

Further information can be obtained here:

Verband Katholischer Internate und Tagesinternate (V.K.I.T.) e.V.
Bonner Talweg 177
53129 Bonn

Protestant Boarding Schools

The second largest group consists of Protestant boarding schools. These are supported by church parishes, institutions and various churches belonging to different states, as well as the Inner Mission. The children/young people attend the school integrated within the boarding school or a state school in the area. Altogether, 35 Protestant boarding schools for general education are situated throughout Germany, mostly in rural areas. Biblical tradition serves as a basis for orientation. However, no adherence to a particular denomination is required.

Further information can be obtained here:

Evangelische Internate Deutschland EID
51570 Windeck-Herchen

Tel.: +49 2243 92 04-0

German State Educational Homes (LEH)

The conception of this organisation can be attributed to Hermann Lietz. Twenty-one boarding schools in Germany belong to this body, as well as one in Switzerland. They work according to the Pestalozzi Principle (“Education with head, heart and mind”). They do not adhere to any religious denomination. The boarding schools are situated in rural areas, as natural surroundings have a positive influence on pupils. LEH boarding schools are legally recognised alternative schools and each has a non-profit-making sponsorship (foundation, co-operative).

Further information can be obtained here:

Vereinigung Deutscher Landerziehungsheime (LEH)
Dr. Erika Risse
Christian-Steger-Str. 11
46045 Oberhausen

Tel.: +49 208 851423
Fax: +49 208 851425

Christian Youth Villages Germany (CJD)

The Youth Village-Christophorus Schools are part of the CJD and were founded in 1947 by Pastor Arnold Dannenmann. Eight different establishments exist in Germany with different educational emphases. They promote children and young people in the field of education and offer academic secondary school; lower secondary and secondary modern school.

If you have any further questions please contact:

CJD Geschäftsleitung
Teckstraße 23
73061 Ebersbach (Fils)

Tel.: +49 7163 93 00

Elite Sports Schools

These boarding schools coordinate competitive sports and scholastic education in so-called integrated school-competitive sports systems. The working group “Eliteschulen des Sports“ consists of business representatives, the National Olympic Committee, the Culture and Sports Ministries, the organisation Deutsche Sporthilfe and the The German Sports Federation. These boarding schools are supported both by the church and privately, as well as by communes and states.

For further questions on sports boarding schools please contact:

Deutscher Sportbund Geschäftsbereich Leistungssport
Otto-Fleck-Schneise 12
60528 Frankfurt am Main

Tel.: +49 69 6 70 03 05

State Boarding Schools

State schools with their own boarding facilities or with affiliated private boarding are funded by the private sector.

Independent Waldorf Schools

The philosophy of the anthroposophist Rudolf Steiner characterises the spirit of independent Waldorf Schools. They have their own curricula and intentionally do without state recognition. In this way they ensure independence in both tuition and overall education.

Independent Boarding Schools

This group has neither denominational support nor do they belong to a larger group of boarding schools. They are supported by foundations, school associations and private enterprises.

What do boarding schools cost in Germany?

You can assume that the costs for denominationally affiliated and state-run boarding schools will, on average, cost about 500 Euros per month.

You can expect to pay around 1250 Euros per month for boarding schools with independent sponsorship. The schools belonging to the association of German state education homes (LEH) are the most expensive. These have an average monthly fee of 1500 Euros and represent the maximum to be paid within the German Federal Republic.

Possible Subsidies for Children’s Boarding School Accommodation

State support is granted in certain exceptional cases when a boarding school is requested but the parents are unable to pay the fees.

Claims are to be made in accordance with Social Law Book VIII (Child and Youth Assistance Act). The responsible youth welfare office will decide from the point of view of educational and therapeutic necessity, whether the conditions for a claim are applicable. This is a matter of a voluntary state contribution and is therefore administered differently from office to office.

In principle, § 27 SGB VIII of the Child and Youth Assistance Act accords the right to:

  • Financial assistance for education, if suitable education for the well-being of the child is not ensured at the child’s home location
  • Assistance towards the development of the child/youth, if a boarding school education appears to be appropriate or necessary.
  • This assistance (according to § 27 SGB VIII - Child and Youth Assistance) can also apply to accommodation at a boarding school (see § 34 SGB VIII).

Contributions according to the State Training and Education Promotion Act (BaföG): assistance is also possible in accordance with the State Educational Promotion Act (Bundesausbildungs-förderungsgesetz).

In order to see if boarding fees - not to be confused with actual school fees - can be subsidized (home fees are the actual boarding fees), check § 7 Hardship Regulations (Härteverordnung). In this case fee subsidies can be given when the fees for boarding school accommodation are considerably above the applied levy.

Both the BaföG and the youth welfare office can advise on the exact levy.

Boarding fees can only be considered where considerably less expensive accommodation at another acceptable boarding school (with the same educational level) is out of the question.

Tax Discounts on Boarding School Costs

If parents receive child tax allowances or child benefits, they can claim a 30% tax discount on school fees as special tax benefits (Sonderausgaben see § 10 Abs. 1 Nr. 9 EstG). It is a condition that the boarding school is state approved, or is recognised by state law as an alternative school or general educational supplementary school. When the child reaches the age of 18 the educational subsidy increases to 2200 Euros (see § 33a Abs. 2 EstG).

If a single parent sends a child to a boarding school because he or she is prevented from looking after the child, - care costs of up to 2000 euros can be claimed as an exceptional burden on income tax (außergewöhnliche Belastung see § 33c EstG.) Please clarify these matters with your tax advisor or the appropriate finance office in advance.

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