Are you afraid of the application process and the bureaucracy that comes with it?
Or do you think you’re not entitled to state support anyway? For many, the concept of funding is a great mystery. We at the UE are here to give you an overview of the great unknown – BAföG!
What exactly is BAföG?
The Federal Education and Trainings Assistance Act (Bundesausbildungsförderungsgesetz), BAföG for short, is a form of state sponsorship for students, apprentices and pupils. This program provides funds to cover tuition and living expenses.
50 percent of BAföG is simply a benefit granted to you. The other 50 percent is an untaxable loan, which is paid back at the end of your educational program. About five years after graduation, you’ll receive a letter explaining the conditions of repayment.
What do you need to know about BAföG?
In principle, anyone can apply for BAföG funding. But in order for you to apply to BAföG, you must have the German citizenship.
You must pay attention to three things when applying for support:
- Is your program of study eligible for funding?
- Do you meet the program criteria?
- What about your income?
When and where should you apply?
The applications should be submitted to one of the Agencies for Education and Training Assistance (Ausbildungsförderungsämter). These agencies will also support you during the BAföG process. It’s easiest to find the agency in your area via Internet.
The funds are released as early as possible after you submit your application.
Have you already sorted out your admission to a study program? Then submit your application for BAföG as quickly as you can. Ideally, you would submit as many as eight weeks before the beginning of the semester. The BAföG funding begins when the program of study listed in your application begins. However, payment only starts at the beginning of the month when you apply—this means that poor planning can lead to receiving your money later. Every month you let pass without submitting an application means less money.
Here’s a quick example for clarification:
Your program of study begins in October. You don’t submit your BAföG application until November. The funding only begins then in the month of November. You lose your right to funding for October, since you didn’t submit your application properly at the beginning of the semester.
How much BAföG do you get? How is it calculated?
The amount of your BAföG funding depends on several factors. The income of your parents, your spouse or your registered civil partner, along with your own income, will be considered during the BAföG application process.
You can receive supplemental funding to pay your own health insurance or get long-term care insurance. Your living situation also impacts the amount of your funding.
If you still live with your parents as a student, you can only receive a maximum funding amount of 537 Euro monthly. If you live in your own apartment, a shared apartment (WG) or student housing, then your maximum funding amount goes up to 735 Euro per month. This includes a flat-rate contribution for rent in the amount of 250 Euro.
With the BAföG calculator, you can do some initial calculations and get your estimated funding amount. However, this amount is only an estimate and doesn’t necessarily match the final amount you will be paid!
Can you work on the side and earn some money?
Yes, you can work during your studies and earn some money. However, you can only earn up to 450 Euro gross without affecting your funding. In one year, you can earn up to 5,400 Euro gross without your BAföG amount being reduced. If you go over the allowed amount of extra income, the excess amount will be divided by twelve and subtracted from your yearly BAföG funds.
Is there an age limit for BAföG?
After you turn 31, you can’t receive any more funding for study. The student’s age at the beginning of the course of study is use to calculate this. Students in master’s programs have an higher age limit of 35.
Support with problems and questions
There are several organizations and state institutions that support students, apprentices and pupils with the application for BAföG. They help with the application itself and with navigating through each stage of being supported in your studies. We encourage anyone for whom a little bit of funding would offer important financial support to apply.
If you simply spend some time quietly looking over the topic of BAföG, it’s not really so complex anymore. If you still don’t understand the mounds of paperwork or you’re simply not feeling secure, you can turn to Hilfswerke (public aid organizations) for support.