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Starting your degree – checklist

There are a few things you need to take care of before your first semester

You’ve got a place on a degree programme, and now the first semester is just around the corner. From apartments to finances and scholarships: we’ve put together a checklist of things you should try to do before you begin your degree at an Austrian university. To help you get your first semester off to a care-free start.

Junge Frau im Hörsaal

[Translate to Englisch:] Mit der Checkliste Studienstart steht dem Studienbeginn nichts mehr im Weg.

Check your finances

How will you cover your living expenses during the semester? Your accommodation, food and drinks, mobile phone, internet connection, study materials, clothes, leisure activities – it all costs money. Every single month. 

When it comes to covering your expenses, you have a few different options:

•    Financial support from your parents
•    Studienbeihilfe (student allowance), grants and scholarships
•    Merit-based scholarships
•    Part-time job

If your parents give you financial support:

It’s very common for parents to finance their child’s degree. They have a statutory duty to provide financial support so that their child can cover their living costs – all the way until they finish their studies and start working. For their part, the child has a responsibility to take their studies seriously. 

But parents are not always in a position to pay for everything connected with their child’s degree. This is why many students work part-time alongside their studies, or enrol on a part-time degree programme. 

Is a government grant an option?

If you cannot cover all of your degree-related costs, you can apply for government support. In this case, you need to fulfil certain requirements.

Types of government support

•    Student allowance
•    Selbsterhalter*innen-Stipendium (self-sufficient student allowance)
•    Familienbeihilfe (family allowance)
•    Auslandsbeihilfe (study abroad allowance)

To find out whether you qualify for government support, in many cases you can contact the student advice office at your university directly. They will be able to provide all the details you need. You can find an overview of the most important types of financial support below.

Student allowance – when parents are unable to finance their child’s studies in full

Student allowance is a type of support for students whose parents cannot cover all the costs of their child’s degree. The Austrian Studienförderungsgesetz (Student Financial Support Act; German only) specifies who is eligible for student allowance as well as the conditions that need to be met.

Generally speaking, student allowance is available to Austrian citizens, as well as foreign citizens and stateless individuals with equivalent status, who are regular students at an Austrian university of applied sciences, university or other higher education institution. They must be eligible for government financial support and provide proof that they have achieved positive grades.

How much is student allowance?

The level of student allowance depends on a number of factors, including the parents’ income, the student’s age and their living situation. The maximum allowance is EUR 715 per month. However, this amount is only paid under very specific circumstances.

Family allowance – support for children up to the age of 24

Family allowance can be claimed for children up to the age of 18. However, if the child goes on to do a degree, the benefit will continue to be paid until they reach the age of 24. Again, it is important to remember that your additional earnings must not exceed EUR 15,000 per year.

Family allowance is usually transferred to the bank account of the person who is eligible to claim it – in most cases this is the child’s father or mother. However, if your father or mother agree, you can apply to the tax office to have the allowance paid directly to your account instead. 

You can find further information on family allowance on the Austrian government website.

Study abroad allowance – additional support for a semester abroad

If you receive student allowance and would like to spend a semester abroad, you can apply for study abroad allowance, which is paid in addition to student allowance. Study abroad allowance depends on the cost of living and studying in the host country. The maximum amount is EUR 582 per month. Important: the Student Financial Support Authority does not provide funding for internships abroad.

For more information on study abroad allowance, visit the Student Financial Support Authority website.

Finding a place to live

What if the place where you want to study is a long way from home? You have a number of options if you want to live near your new university. Whichever option you go for, you need to decide what you want as soon as possible – so that you can find the ideal room or apartment for your dream degree.

Living in a student residence 
Most Austrian higher education institutions have student residences nearby. Their location is ideal and they are relatively affordable – factors that many students find attractive, especially at the start of their degrees. What’s more, you can make new friends quickly, and also study and spend your free time together.

Tip: you should apply for a room at your preferred student residence as soon as possible. Ideally, you should register for accommodation during the application process. 

Most student residences have single rooms, although some also have double rooms and shared accommodation. Many rooms are already furnished, so you don’t need to worry about buying wardrobes and cupboards, a bed, a desk or chairs. Which is especially practical if the student residence is just a short-term solution.

Living in a shared apartment

Shared apartments are a popular choice among students, as living costs are split among a few individuals. Usually, everyone in the apartment has their own room, with a shared kitchen, bathroom, toilet and living room. This is a cheaper option than renting an apartment on your own. That said, you can still expect to pay between EUR 400 and EUR 500 for a room in a shared apartment in a large Austrian town or city. 

Living in a shared apartment has a lot of advantages. It’s a quick and easy way to meet new people, and you and your flatmates can help each other out. Who knows, you could even end up making friends for life!

Tip: try to get to know your flatmates better ahead of time – after all, you’ll be living together. So it’s a good idea to find out beforehand whether you get along with the other people sharing the apartment or have anything in common.

Shared apartments are available for two, three or four people, or maybe even more. What sort of a person are you? Think about which set-up you would prefer and who you would like to share an apartment with. Not everyone will feel at home in a shared apartment. If you prefer peace and quiet and don’t want to be with other people all of the time, you will probably be better off looking for a different type of accommodation. 

Renting an apartment

If you decide to rent an apartment on your own, the biggest advantage is the freedom this brings – but you can also expect to pay more, depending on the town or city, the location, and what comes with the apartment. You also need to keep in mind the costs for electricity, heating and internet, as well as incidental costs for things like repairs. 

Tip: work out the costs of renting your own apartment and ask yourself how you will be able to cover everything.

And another important tip: try to start looking for an apartment as soon as possible. The earlier you apply for a degree programme, the better the chances of finding a place to live that matches what you’re looking for. It can take some time until you find a suitable apartment that is close to your university. You should also factor in the time needed to finalise the contract, for moving in and for setting up the apartment. Ideally, you should move in one month before the start of the semester.

If you’re interested in studying at IMC Krems, you can find out more about accommodation options, finance and a range of other topics at our information events at the university or in the Kremser Student Pinboard Facebook group. It’s a great way to make sure your degree gets off to a good start!

Information updated September 2023
Written by: Pamela Schmatz