Following a landmark court ruling in 2005, more than half of Germany’s universities started charging tuition fees, which were later abolished in a staggered manner. We exploit the fact that even students who were already enrolled had to start paying fees. We show that fees increase study effort and degree completion among these students. However, fees also decrease first-time university enrollment among high school graduates. Combining this enrollment impact with the effect on completion, we find that fees around the zero-price margin have only little effect on overall educational attainment. We conclude by discussing policies targeting the separate effect margins of fees and caution against a general abolition.