Seems like there are many classes in English. Good way to get a free college education, learn German, and see Europe. Not sure what the upper age limit is.
You pretty much have to be fluent in German already, apply and be accepted to a specific program, no sports entertainment, and you're on your own for living arrangements. Their tuition was already cheap enough to be a viable option before this last state dropped fees.
As Stan noted, if you're not already fluent in German (at least C1 level), your application is going straight into the trash can. And the student would be on their own to find housing and establish and pay for all the necessary services of living (rent, electricity, water, internet, etc.) on their own... in German and via an electronic bank transfer system in which US-based banks don't participate. I don't see this being a viable option at all for the typical US 18 year old unless they had some strong family connection to Germany already.
@ Kimberley....As for "upper age limit" it used to be 35 if the applicant goes through DAAD, the German organisation that deals with these matters. True, it is expected that one knows the language already prior to arriving at the German university. The student isn't burdened with immense tuition compared to here.
I've known only one person (42 years ago) in San Francisco at the time who did a year of study at Heidelberg since that was the only German university her university here had a program with. Because of that particular fact, she had basically no choice in choosing another university, say Bonn, Marburg, Göttingen, Freie Uni in Berlin, etc. And, familywise she wasn't of German origin, far from it.
No, you do not need to be fluent or nearly fluent in German to get a degree in a German university and they will not throw your application in the trash if you don't know any German. An article in the Washington Post on October 29, 2014 says that Americans can earn an undergraduate or graduate degree in 900 degree programs in all subjects from German universities taught entirely in English with no German required. Germany encourages German students to take courses taught in English and welcomes students from the USA and other English-speaking countries to come and earn a free degree too. There are also details on 6 other countries that offer free or almost free tuition including Finland. Here is the link to the article:
It is worth having a look at. At the article click on the "900" degree programs and you will find yourself at a program search page. Choose "English" as the language you want to take courses in then in the next part, choose English (rather than German or 25% German, 75% English and so on) and choose your field of interest and you will get a huge list of universities teaching that program entirely in English with links to the university.
http://www.studyineurope.eu has a very comprehensive overview on studying in Europe. Definitely worth checking.