More BAföG, more flexible BAföG from winter semester 2024/25

Due to the BAföG reform, the chances of receiving (more) BAföG will increase significantly from the winter semester 2024/25. It’s worth making an application!

On 13 June 2024, the 29th BAföG amendment was passed by the German Bundestag. Among other things, the new BAföG provides for an increase in the previously applicable requirement rates and allowances – both for students’ income and assets and for parental income. Students who previously received little or no BAföG funding will therefore have a much better chance of receiving funding from winter semester 2024/25. Students who already receive the full rate can also expect to receive more BAföG.

The changes in detail:

  • The BAföG rate increases depending on their housing situation and health and long-term care insurance to a maximum of 855 € for students aged under 25 years. For 25-30 year olds, the maximum is 992 € and for over 30 year olds, up to 1,088 €.

  • The asset allowance for students is still
    • 15,000 € up to the age of 30 years.
    • from the age of 30 even 45,000 €.
      This means that students are allowed to have this amount of assets without it being counted towards BAföG. The circumstances at the time of application are decisive.

  • The tax-free amounts for students’ income were also increased. For BAföG recipients, a mini-job with an average monthly income of currently €538 or €6,456 per year will continue to be exempt in future. For married students or students with their own children, even higher allowances are provided for, so that even a higher income may not affect the entitlement to funding.

  • The parents’ income allowances will increase to:
    • 2.540 € for parents who are married to each other (for both together) or
    • 1.690 € for parents who are not married to each other or who are permanently separated (for each parent);
    • In addition, the allowances for siblings (who are not pursuing an education eligible for BAföG funding) will increase to 770 euros for each sibling. And best of all: income from underage siblings, e.g. if they have a mini-job or receive a training allowance, will not have a negative effect on the sibling allowance in the future. 
    • The deduction of social security contributions (which is a lump sum in BAföG) has also been increased. For parents who are employed, 22.3% instead of the previous 21.6% will be deducted from the annual income when determining BAföG entitlement. For self-employed parents 38.8% instead of the previous 38.0% and for non-employed parents (e.g. old-age pensioners) 16.5% instead of the previous 15.9%

As a result of the increases listed above, parents’ income will only be taken into account from a significantly higher amount than was previously the case. This significantly increases the chances of receiving BAföG!

Even if there are no specific reasons (e.g. illness or raising children, see § 15 para. 3 BAföG), students will be able to receive funding for one semester longer in future. Just like that! The so-called flexible semester can only be claimed once during the course of study, e.g. at the end of the Bachelor’s programme or at the end of the Master’s programme. The amount of funding depends on the requirements of BAföG.

Facilitating the change of specialisation

In future, students will have one semester longer to orientate themselves in their studies before changing subject or dropping out. In principle, the requirements for receiving funding for a different degree programme than the previous one are increasing. The faster the change is completed, the more likely it is to receive funding for the new programme. In the case of a first-time change made before the start of the 4th semester, a so-called important reason is generally assumed. In these cases, therefore, no justification is required in order to receive funding for the new course. However, if the change is not for the first time or in a higher semester, the reasons for this must be explained.

The Studienstarthilfe, a one-off grant of 1,000 euros for first-year students who have not yet reached the age of 25, is intended to make it easier for young people from households receiving social benefits to enter higher education. It is intended to support them with expenses that are typically associated with starting university (e.g. computers, teaching and learning materials, rent deposit).

The study start-up aid can be applied for independently of any subsequent BAföG entitlement. It is not offset against BAföG and does not have to be paid back.

In its draft bill, the Federal Ministry of Education estimates that around 15,000 first-year students across Germany could benefit from this support each year. Last year, there were almost 480,000 first-semester students at German universities.

  • Requirements for the study start-up aid
    1. Applicants have not yet reached the age of 25 at the start of their studies
    2. They have not yet started or completed a course of study at a university or university of cooperative education within the meaning of § 2 Para. 1 No. 6 BAföG. This is therefore the first higher education programme.
    3. In the month before the start of training, one of the following social benefits was received (notification must be attached to the application as proof):
    • Benefits according to the Second Book of the Social Code (SGB II),
    • Benefits for subsistence according to the Third Chapter of the Twelfth Book of the Social Code (SGB XII),
    • Basic income support in old age and in case of reduced earning capacity in accordance with Chapter Four of Book Twelve of the Social Code (SGB XII),
    • Benefits and services to secure livelihood in accordance with § 93 of the Fourteenth Book of the Social Code (SGB XIV),
    • Supplementary assistance for subsistence in accordance with Section 145 (1) of the Fourteenth Book of the Social Code (SGB XIV) in conjunction with Section 27a of the Federal War Victims Relief Act t in the version applicable on 31 December 2023
    • Benefits under the Asylum Seekers Benefits Act,
    • themselves or their parents receive childrens allowance for them in accordance with the Federal Child Benefit Act or
    • themselves or as a household member receive housing benefit in accordance with the Housing Benefit Act.

     

    In all other cases, there is no entitlement to the study start-up aid.

  • Note on the application
    • Payment is only made on separate application (not automatically with the BAföG application).
    • The application can only be submitted via BAföG-Digital.de (simple registration also possible without an electronic ID card)
    • The application can be submitted up to the end of the month following the month in which the training begins.
    • The following documents must be submitted with the application:
      • Certificate of enrolment / certificate according to § 9 BAföG
      • Proof of receipt of social benefits in the month before the start of training (e.g. by submitting the benefit notices)

What else is important ?

  • Since 01.07.2021, students can apply for BAföG benefits via the digital application assistant “BAföG Digital“. The BAföG application can be easily created, edited and digitally sent on the computer via access to the online tool with all necessary data. All the necessary forms are put together in a simple and clear manner. The application can be sent completely electronically and the applicant receives an automatic notification that the application has been received.
  • As usual, half of the BAföG received as a loan is not due until five years after the end of the maximum funding period (after the first degree). Repayment is income-dependent in monthly instalments of € 130 each. After 77 instalments, i.e. a maximum of 10,010 €, the remaining debt is waived. If, for example, students receive 934 € per month for six semesters of Bachelor’s and four semesters of Master’s studies (BAföG maximum rate for students between 25 and 30 years of age), i.e. a total of 56,040 €, they have to repay a maximum of 10,010 €, which is less than one fifth – there is no cheaper way to finance your studies!
  • Anyone who studies two semesters longer for reasons that are not recognised by the BAföG office (e.g. extension of studies to improve grades) can receive “assistance to complete studies“. This is an interest-free loan that must be repaid in full (so-called full loan). A requirement is that you are admitted to the final exam within four semesters after the end of the maximum funding period and that the university certifies that you can complete your studies within twelve months. The repayment of the full loan usually takes place after the repayment of the regular BAföG (see case study 5).

Questions on how to apply?


Do not forget, even if the BAföG benefits you receive are low:
Half of it does not have to be paid back and BAföG-supported students are completely exempt from TV licence fees.