German and, for the most part, foreign students can receive BAföG for their first degree course. It is essential that are you under 30 years of age before commencing your degree programme. You must be under 35 years of age before commencing a master’s programme.
Only in exceptional cases (e.g. graduates from the ‘zweite Bildungsweg’ educational system, personal or family reasons) can you also receive BAföG beyond the ages of 30 and 35 respectively
How and when should I apply for my BAföG loan or grant?
You will first receive BAföG starting from the month in which your application was received. You cannot apply retrospectively. Your should therefore submit your application to your BAföG office in good time. In order to keep within the deadline, an informal application will suffice at first.
Please remember to send your application for further funding well in advance if you are wishing to receive further BAföG payments once a particular approval period has come to an end.
Use the e-application form to complete your BAföG application online. A help wizard will run you through the documents. Then you can decide whether or not to print off the application and send it by post or send it electronically by De Mail to the BAföG offices. You will find exact details of how this works on the BAföG website.
You may, of course, complete your application in the ‘traditional’ way in paper form and send the signed document to us by post, fax or e mail, or deliver it in person.
Your personal level of support is based on your needs. Where applicable, this is reduced according to your allowable income and capital as well as any (potential) income from your spouse or partner and their parents
You receive a BAföG grant until you reach the maximum period for financial support (= normal period of study). Even if you haven’t received a BAföG grant for all the semesters falling within this period, your entitlement ends upon expiry of the maximum period.
Only in exceptional circumstances can you receive BAföG for any longer (see § 15 para 3 BAföG):
due to serious reasons (e.g. sickness)
as a result of being cared for in a home environment by a close relative who is at least in care level 3
as a result of involvement in a statutory board or statutory body of the universities and federal states, and involvement in statutory bodies for the self-regulation of students at these educational institutions and ‘Studentenwerke’ (student unions)
as a result of failure to pass your final exams on the first occasion
as a result of a disability, pregnancy or looking after and bringing up a child up to ten years of age (you receive these payments ‘in kind’ and therefore they do not need to be repaid.
Based on your written explanation, we will gladly check your entitlement to receive BAföG for a reasonable period of time that will effectively allow you to complete your studies.
If this does not apply to you, you could possibly receive the so-called ‘Hilfe zum Studienabschluss’ (assistance for completion of studies). This is an interest-free government loan. The prerequisites for receiving this are that you have registered to take your final exams and that you can complete your studies within 12 months.
What should I bear in mind when changing course subjects?
If you change your specialist subjects for the first time within the first two semesters, that is normally not a problem. It is assumed that such a change will only be made if there are serious grounds for doing so.
The later you change subjects within your course of study, the more difficult it is to continue to receive BAföG. The reasons for the change of subject are decisive in this, and we must examine these carefully.
In the event that you wish to change subjects, we recommend that you discuss this with us in advance.
Can I also get BAföG abroad?
You can also receive a BAföG grant for your studies or placement abroad. You can apply for the international BAföG at your relevant BAföG office responsible for this. Please inform us well in advance when your studies abroad are due to begin.
How much additional money am I allowed to earn from ‘mini-jobs’ and holiday work?
The deciding factor is your income within the approval period, i.e. the period for which the payments from BAföG have been applied for and approved. Within an approval period of twelve months, you are allowed gross earnings of around 5,400 euros in total before any reductions in your BAföG become applicable. If the above level of income is exceeded, the amount you receive from BAföG will reduce accordingly. You should inform your BAföG office of your income in any case. Other rules apply to earnings gained from student placements. We would be happy to advise you about this.
How does the repayment work?
As a general rule, half of the BAföG is made up of a grant and the other half of an interest-free government loan. You must therefore only partially repay the money at the end of your studies, namely the interest-free loan.
The maximum size of (interest-free) loan is considered to be 10,000 euros, even if you have borrowed a higher amount than this overall. Your repayment obligation begins five years after the end of the maximum grant period. The repayment is currently 105 euros per month, from 01.04.20120 the monthly repayment level is set at 130 euros. BAföG loans are collected and administered by the Federal Office of Administration in Cologne. The details fo the repayment modalities can be found here.
In the exceptional circumstance that you have received your BAföG in the form of an interest-free bank loan, then you must repay the loan including any accrued interest to the Kreditanstalt für Wiederaufbau (KfW). Further information can be found here.