"BAföG" is the abbreviation for "German Federal Education and Training Assistance Act" and refers to a social benefit. Your education is supported by the state if you or your family are not able to finance it.
The training assistance under BAföG consist in equal parts of a grant funding and an interest-free loan. The loan part has to be paid back later.
German students are eligible for funding if they have not reached the age of 30 when starting their education (for Master students this is the age of 35). But there are exceptions, e.g. for those who raise children under the age of ten or for trainees that have acquired their prerequisites to access higher education by second-chance education.
Foreign students can also receive BAföG if they have a legal residence permit, for example citizens of the European Union with a permanent right of residence, refugees with a right of residence for humanitarian reasons or persons that are legally tolerated. They have to meet certain additional requirements. You can find individual advice on this topic at the office for training assistance.
If you are a first-degree student, you are generally eligible for funding. There is also the possibility of being granted BAföG for a subsequent education if you have a second-chance education.
The legislator also gives green light if your Master program is based on a bachelor's degree. Even those who are only provisionally admitted to the Master program may receive BAföG. You then need to submit the final approval within one year.
The funding does not end with the last examination, but continues to the end of the month in which the total result is disclosed. This is the first binding notification on the successful completion of the educational section by the university or the examination office. Nevertheless, the funding is limited to a period of two months after the month in which the last part of the examination was completed.
Since 1.8.2015 funding is also granted in cases of a provisional admission to the Master’s degree program if proof for a final admission to the Master’s degree program is provided within a year. If you wish to plan ahead, you can also apply for a preliminary decision on whether you are generally eligible for funding before beginning your Master's degree program.
If you are a first-degree student (e.g. Bachelor) and you change your study path for the first time, the new study path will be funded for the standard study period. The change must be made for an important reason and before the fourth semester begins. In case you decide on changing the study path after the fourth semester, you shall only receive BAföG if the change was necessary due to an irrefutable reason. If you change your study path during a Master's degree program, you also have to provide an irrefutable reason.
The same principles apply if you have chosen not to continue your studies and you change your study path later, when resuming your studies.
Our BAföG counselling service will gladly advise you in detail before you make the decision of changing your study path.
The amount of funding is calculated individually, as several components need to be considered. Our BAföG counselling service can answer your specific questions personally or by telephone!
As a general rule, your subsistence and your education (= your need) are funded. The state provides standard rates for this, depending on whether or not you live with your parents. The actual amount of the BAföG payment also depends on your own assets and your income as well as on the income of your parents, your spouse or your partner. Why? The reason for the dependency on the family is that the maintenance obligation lies with your spouse, partner or parents in the first place. Social benefits are considered the last "source of money".
The maximum basic need amounts to 399 Euros per month. For those living with their parents, a lump sum of 52 Euros is added for the accommodation. If you are not living at home, the lump sum amounts to 250 Euros. If you are insured as a student, you receive an additional financial aid of 71 Euros for your statutory health insurance and an additional 15 Euros for your care insurance.
Added up, this comes to a maximum funding of 537 Euros per month if you are living with your parents. If you live in your own apartment, it comes to an amount of 735 Euros.
Are you married or do you have siblings who are also studying? This is where allowances come into play that affect the amount of BAföG funding you receive.
If you have a spare-time employment while studying, you may earn an additional sum of up to 450 Euros per month without your funding being reduced. Please make sure to inform the office for training assistance about your employment or any change in your employment relationship in a timely manner.
We recommend to take a look at the flyer "Jobben – Kurzinformation für Studierende (01/2017)" . You are welcome to seek our advice and we shall sort out all your questions individually and based on your personal situation.
For many students the child benefit is an important financial aid during their studies. The entitlement to child benefit depends on the type of education and on the age of the person eligible. You may receive child benefit at least until you reach the age of 18. As long as you go to school, undergo vocational training or study, the entitlement to child benefit continues to exist up to the age of 25. Under certain conditions it may even be possible to receive child benefit after passing this age limit.
For more details please read this explanatory leaflet "Kindergeld".
Note: When calculating the amount of BAföG funding, the child benefit is not considered as income.
Important: Usually the child benefit is paid to the parents to alleviate the burden of maintenance. Your parents have to apply for child benefit at the competent family benefits office. Child benefit and spare-time employment can be combined very well during your initial education. If you have already completed a vocational training or a first-degree course of studies, the entitlement to child benefit only continues under the prerequisite that the performed activity is deemed “harmless”. This is the case if the regular weekly working hours do not exceed a total of 20 hours or if it is a minor employment.
When the 25. BAföG Law Amendment came into force on 01.01.2016, the grant levels and allowances were increased by 7 %. Please find the specific changes below:
If you do not obtain maintenance from your parents any more, you may receive BAföG funding that does not depend on your parents. Your parents’ income is not taken into account in this case. This applies if:
You receive BAföG funding while studying, even in the lecture-free time. The funding starts from the month of the application, however, no sooner than from the beginning of the education. The maximum period (maximum funding period) depends on the standard period of study for the respective course of study, which is determined in the study and examination regulations.
In case your studies are prolonged for certain reasons, you may exceptionally receive BAföG after this maximum funding period.
For example diseases, disabilities, activities in a university committee, failing the final exams or taking care of a child may be such a reason.
If you cannot provide reasons that justify a continued funding beyond the maximum funding period, but you are able to finish your studies within the standard period of study in the next 12 months, you have to opportunity to apply for “help to graduate”, which is a bank loan with an interest rate. For detailed information on the granting of a graduation loan, please make an appointment at your respective BAföG-office.
Up to now, the education and the funding ended immediately after the last examination of the study program - even if neither the semester was completed nor the examination result were known at that time. Even in the maximum funding period no BAföG was paid while waiting for the results of the last examination and the notification on the overall results of the successful completion of the study program.
According to the revised provision for university studies in Section 15 b (3) sentence 2 of the German Federal Training Assistance Act (BAföG), students shall now consistently receive funding until they know whether they have completed their studies or not - if the maximum funding period has not expired at that time. Therefore, funding is granted up to the end of the month of the notification on the overall results without the funding being reclaimed even if the studies were completed successfully.
However, the maximum funding period is limited to a period of two months after the month in which the last part of the examination was completed. Therefore the BAföG-office must immediately be informed about the date of the last examination and the date of the first notification by the University or the examination office. This may be done, for example, by
For the notification on the overall results it is sufficient to disclose whether the student has passed his examinations. Examinations that have not been reviewed and that only affect the grade of the examination results shall not be taken into account in this context.
The state gives you a part of the funding for free. The other half is an interest-free loan that you have to repay five years after the end of the maximum funding period (!). A maximum amount of only 10.000 Euros of the loan has to be paid back.
The amount of the monthly repayment rate depends on your income and comes to at least 105 Euros. Those with low income may even be exempted from the repayment for a certain period of time. The Federal Office of Administration in Cologne is responsible for the repayment of the loan part.
The state also supports studies and internships abroad. For this kind of funding, you need to submit a special application to the responsible international office of the respective country. A list of the international offices can be found in the flyer of the German Studentenwerk "Mit BAföG ins Ausland”.
In case you want to study in one of the EU Member States or in Switzerland, funding can be granted from the beginning to the end of the studies. BAföG funding for studying abroad in all other countries is limited to one year at first and can be extended to a maximum of five semesters.
You have to apply for training assistance in writing - with you signature - and submit the application to the responsible office for training assistance. To do this, you need to use the official forms. You can find those online on the website of the Ministry of Science, Research and Culture of the state of Brandenburg and on our website under the menu item "forms". Please note the explanations and include the required supporting documents. Only in this case it is possible to provide fast processing of the application and timely payments.
To apply on time you can submit a written, but otherwise informal application to the BAföG-office in advance. Just hand in the remaining documents afterwards.
The training assistance is paid from the beginning of the month in which the studies begin, but can be paid no sooner than in the month of the application.
To receive BAföG funding consistently you should repeat submitting the application with the necessary supporting documents to the office for training assistance two month before the end of the current funding period (usually 12 months) at the latest.
The amount of BAföG funding generally depends on the income of the parents, the spouse or the partner. Decisive is the year before the last calendar year prior to the application. If the income was significantly reduced in the meantime, for example due to unemployment, pension, etc., you can apply for an update (form number 7). Our BAföG-office will gladly advise you on the specific conditions before you submit your application.
If your parents refuse to give the necessary information about their income or your parents do not pay the calculated amounts of maintenance and your education is at risk due to the failure to pay the amounts of maintenance, you can apply for a so-called advance payment (form number 8). In this case, the office for training assistance pays the outstanding amount of maintenance (for the time being) instead of your parents. By law, the existing maintenance claim is transferred to the state of Brandenburg, which is represented by the Studentenwerk Potsdam. As the Studentenwerk Potsdam, we then make use of all possibilities available to us in order to assert the claims regarding the repayment of the advances on maintenance, if necessary by initiating a judicial processes. If you have specific questions about the proceedings regarding advance payments, please contact us at the BAföG-office.
After the beginning of the 5. semester you are only entitled to BAföG funding if you have reached the usual level of performance at the end of the previous semester and if you have submitted an appropriate proof of performance at the BAföG-office.
The following documents are considered as appropriate proof of performance:
The “usual performance” is not determined by us as the office for training assistance, but rather by a full-time employee of the university staff - the so-called "BAföG representative". The proof of performance needs to be provided for the course of study or the study path, for which the funding was granted. If you have enrolled for multiple courses of study, you need a proof of performance for every course of study.
Please note that the supporting documents are only considered as having been submitted on time if you hand them in within the first four months of the following semester and if the documents show that the performances were made in the previous semester.
Important: It is possible to accept the proof of performance at a later point in time if there are special circumstances in your case. Please contact us in time and let us give you individual advice.
Special circumstances are, for example:
If you are a first-degree student (e.g. Bachelor) and you change your study path for the first time, the new study path will be funded for the standard study period. The change must be made for an important reason and before the fourth semester begins.
In case you decide on changing the study path after the fourth semester, you can only receive BAföG if the change was necessary due to an irrefutable reason. If you change your study path during a Master's degree program, you also have to provide an irrefutable reason.
If you receive BAföG and have a dependent spare-time employment, you should make sure not to work more than 20 hours a week and not to earn more than 450 Euros per month (Minijob). In this case your BAföG payments are not affected. In cases of self-employment the limit is a monthly profit of 324 Euros.
Since there are quite a few options and regulations, we recommend to take a look at the flyer "Jobben – Kurzinformation für Studierende" (01/2017), which provides further information. You are welcome to visit us and we shall sort out all your individual questions together.
An advance of up to 80 % of the expected actual need in cases of longer processing times of the initial application is already paid since 1.8.2015. Therefore it is not limited to a maximum of 360 Euros per month any more.
At some universities it is possible to be enrolled in Bachelor's and State Examination degree programs if you study law and medicine. If the Bachelor's degree program is fully integrated in the State Examination degree program and the Bachelor's degree program is completed at the same time as the State Examination degree, further funding may be possible until the State Examination is completed, provided that the integrated Bachelor's degree does not extend the duration of the studies compared to the mere State Examination degree program without the additional Bachelor’s degree.