When last I traveled abroad, I only stayed one month. The US and Europe has a nice little arrangement where visitors staying less than 90 days do not have to get a Visa for the trip. Unfortunately, a year abroad only fits into 90 days if you're on Mercury. Fortunately, the application process for a German student Visa is relatively simple once you find the website that actually provides the details and forms. Here you go.
The main difficulty arises from the fact that, barring a few special cases that do not apply to me, all documents must be submitted in person at a German Consulate. There are all of 8 of them in the United States. Lucky for me, I live just an hour or so's drive from one of them. If, however, you live in Hawaii, my heart goes out to you, you poor soul.
Unless you are applying for a work visa or other long term passes, a Visa will supposedly take 2 to 15 days to process. I will determine the veracity of that claim in August when I am home again. Until then, I have the pleasure of arranging flights and deciding how to access money while abroad. I'll say more on that later.