At a glance
The most important questions about BAföG
The following information is designed to help you find your way around and only represents a typical case. The Federal Training Assistance Act (BAföG) may, however, lay down other conditions and exceptions, which is why individual advice is essential.
The make-up of BAföG
BAföG comes in the form of a grant (50 percent) and an interest-free loan (the other 50 percent). At the end of your course, you therefore have to repay half the money that you have received.
Who is entitled to apply?
German students; in certain conditions, foreign students may receive BAföG too. The Federal Training Assistance Act normally only provides support for one course of studies. You must start it before your 30th birthday.
Support is also available for those wishing to complete a master’s degree after passing their bachelor’s. You must start this before your 35th birthday. After this, BAföG is only available in exceptional cases.
When and how do I apply (initial and ongoing application)?
Support for training is paid from the application month, at the earliest when you start your course of studies. The application therefore needs to be submitted in good time.
To make sure that you meet the deadline, you can send in an informal written application – do not forget to sign the letter and send in your complete application as soon as possible afterwards.
Initial applications (normally for students starting their course) should be submitted at the latest when they are admitted or enrolled at the university.
Ongoing support applications should be handed in, having been completed, two months before the expiry of the current entitlement period.
You can pick up the BAföG forms from our BAföG offices or download them from this website (Forms for downloading) and complete them by hand. You can also apply online. All the documents still have to be printed at the end and personally signed or sent to the BAföG offices by post. However, applications by fax, e-mail (you must scan your signature) or by computer fax are now acceptable.
How is the support calculated?
The individual level of support is governed by needs and the student’s allowable income and assets and by the income of the student’s parents/marriage partner.
Educational support normally depends on the income of the parents/the marriage partner from the last but one calendar year. The current income can be used as the basis in special cases, if a request is made.
In special cases, BAföG can be granted without any reference to parents.
When calculating the assets, their value at the time of the application is relevant. The assets include current bank accounts, savings accounts, building savings accounts, securities, cars and investment funds. The assets allowance for students is 7.500 Euro (from 01.08.2016). If the assets are greater than the allowance, this amount will be included in the calculations.
Any reduction or increase in assets between the time that the application is made and the end of the entitlement period will not be taken into account.
May I receive other income in addition to BAföG?
Students are allowed to earn 5.416 Euro (from 01.08.2016) gross from employment (not self-employed) during an entitlement period of twelve months without having to fear any reductions in their BAföG. Different income calculations are used for people completing obligatory work experience.
Child allowance is not regarded as income.
The allowances are higher for married people and/or students with children. (See question below).
What do I need to note if I change course?
There are normally no problems if you change your course within the first two semesters. In these cases, the law presumes that there was an important reason for the switch.
A change of course up to the start of the 4th semester is possible if there is an important reason for the switch. In these cases, you will need to provide reasons for this so that you do not lose your eligibility for support.
You should make enquiries at our BAföG offices in good time to avoid losing your eligibility for support.
How long can I receive BAföG?
The maximum time for BAföG is governed by the normal university course, which is laid down in the course and examinations order for each specialist department. The maximum period for support continues, regardless of whether you have actually received BAföG during the whole course.
Educational support is only provided from the fifth semester onwards if the student has submitted evidence of achievements.
BAföG may, however, be provided beyond the maximum period
- for serious reasons, for example sickness,
- as a result of membership of legal committees and statutory bodies at universities and the Studierendenwerk,
- as a result of not passing the final examinations the first time,
- as a result of any disability, pregnancy or caring for and bringing up a child aged under ten.
BAföG may also be provided for one year in the form of a completely interest-free bank loan as assistance for completing a course after the maximum support period has been reached. This is only possible if students have been approved for the final examinations and can complete their course within a year.
Are there special BAföG rules for students with children?
Can I receive BAföG abroad too?
Support is available for time spent abroad (courses or work experience) if a special request is made. However, you may not simply take the BAföG support, which you receive in Germany, abroad with you.
Different BAföG offices spread across Germany are responsible for BAföG support abroad, depending on which country is involved. You can find more information on which office is responsible for where at www.studentenwerke.de.
Applications for BAföG for abroad should be submitted six months before the start of your stay abroad.
How do repayments work?
The maximum loan needing to be repaid is EUR 10,000. The loan must be repaid in appropriate instalments five years after the end of the maximum support period (normally EUR 105 per month). The repayment depends on your income – i.e. low earners may be exempt from any repayments.
You will receive notification of the amount of the loan and start of the repayment period about six months before you need to start making repayments. The loan is collected centrally by the Federal Office of Administration, which has its headquarters in Cologne.
Do I have to pay radio licence when I receive BAföG?
While receiving BAföG you can be exempted from the radio licence. More information can be found here www.rundfunkbeitrag.de