Extension of standard period of study renewed

The renewal of the pandemic-related extension previously announced is now official: The summer semester 2021 will also be declared a pandemic semester.

An amendment was made to the Freedom of Higher Education Act (Sec. 114a(1) sentence 1 SächsHSFG) in December 2020. Now the Studentenwerk Leipzig’s Department for Grants has received instructions on how to implement this amendment.

All students who were enrolled in the 2020 summer semester and not on a leave of absence will have their standard period of study extended by up to two semesters. Students who only began studying in the 2020/21 winter semester will receive an extension of one semester. Both the 2020 summer semester and the 2020/21 winter semester will not count toward the standard period of study. The rule also applies to State Examination programmes.

The amendment also affects BAföG funding, which will be extended by up to two semesters. The deadline for performance reports, which students are required to submit to show that they have made the expected progress over the first four semesters of their course, has also been extended by up to two semesters.

The amendment applies to all students who were still within their original standard period of study by the beginning of the 2020 summer semester. It does not extend to students whose standard period of study ended in March 2020 or earlier. Students who were already receiving supplementary financial aid to complete their studies in accordance with Sec. 15(3a) BAföG in the 2020 summer semester will not be retroactively eligible for standard funding.

The Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) has further clarified that students whose standard period of study ended in the 2020 summer semester and who have not yet submitted an application for BAföG or who were late to do so may now also receive retroactive payment. Because Saxony was slow to implement the amendment, an exception has been made that allows BAföG to be paid retroactively from the 2020/21 winter semester. Please note, though, that applications must be submitted to Studentenwerk Leipzig’s Department for Grants by no later than 30 April 2021.


No action required from BAföG recipients

The Department for Grants will automatically take the extension of the standard period of study into account when processing applications for further funding. No additional documents are required. Students already receiving BAföG will not need to submit any explanatory statements or certificates from their higher education institutions.

Some students had already applied to have their higher education institutions not count the 2020 summer semester toward their standard period of study before there was talk of introducing an amendment. These students must now contact their higher education institutions to find out whether they need to revoke the application themselves or whether it will be automatically voided. In any case, this will have no effect on BAföG.


Second chance for rejected BAföG applications to be reviewed

Students whose BAföG applications for the 2020/21 winter semester were rejected (e.g. because their reasons for delay were not accepted or because they changed their degree programme after four semesters) and who did not appeal the decision should now make an informal application to the BAföG office to have their decision reviewed.

Students who had previously assumed that they were not or no longer entitled to BAföG and did not submit an application should submit one as soon as possible. The necessary forms can be found on the BAföG website.


Performance records can wait

Students already receiving BAföG must present a performance record (form 5) from their higher education institution by the beginning of their fifth semester at the latest if they wish to continue receiving BAföG. Soon there will be changes to this deadline. The Department for Grants will soon discount the 2020 summer semester and the 2020/21 winter semester when calculating BAföG eligibility, regardless of what the student’s higher education institution does. This means that:

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... have until the beginning of their seventh semester (instead of fifth) to submit their performance record to the Department for Grants. The standard period of study/maximum period of funding will be extended by two semesters for these students in accordance with Sec. 114a(1) and (2) SächsHSFG.

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... must submit their performance record by the beginning of their sixth semester (instead of fifth). For these students, the standard period of study/maximum period of funding will be extended by one semester in accordance with Sec. 114a(2) SächsHSFG.


Questions?

The situation may be different for every student.

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The counsellors in the Department for Grants are available to answer any questions and can be contacted by phone.

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The full text of the amendment (Sec. 114a Extension of the Standard Period of Study due to the COVID-19 Pandemic) can be viewed in German on the website of the Free State of Saxony: https://www.revosax.sachsen.de/vorschrift/10562-Saechsisches-Hochschulfreiheitsgesetz#p114a

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Applying for BAföG: application forms and more informatio


Examples and case studies

When extending the standard period of study, a differentiation must be made between students who, in the 2020 summer semester, were already enrolled in the study course for which they wish to receive BAföG (case study 1) and students who began their studies in the 2020/21 winter semester (case study 2).

No. 1: Students who were already enrolled in the 2020 summer semester

For these students the standard period of study is extended by two semesters. The following examples illustrate this: 

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aa) The following applies to students in bachelor’s degree programmes, State Examination programmes and Diplom degree programmes:
The deadline for submitting performance records in accordance with Sec. 48(1) BAföG has been extended by two semesters. Performance records showing that students have made the expected progress over the first four semesters of their course must now be submitted by the 2022/23 winter semester (beginning of the seventh semester) at the latest. Any delay in progress does not need to be justified.

The standard period of study will be automatically extended without the need for further action. However, an application for further funding must be made in good time.

bb) The following applies to students in master’s degree programmes:
An application for further funding must be made to the Department for Grants in good time. The standard period of study will be automatically extended without the need for further action. Performance records do not need to be provided at the beginning of the fifth semester.

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aa)  My funding application for the 2020/21 winter semester has not yet been granted or has been rejected.

(1) The deadline for submitting performance records in accordance with Sec. 48(1) BAföG has been extended by two semesters. Performance records showing that students have made the expected progress over the first four semesters of their course must now be submitted by the 2021/22 winter semester (beginning of the seventh semester) at the latest. For applications that have not yet been granted and in the case of ongoing appeals against rejections, the standard period of study is extended automatically. In all other cases an informal application should be made to have the negative decision reviewed.

(2) The standard period of study will be automatically extended without the need for further action when applications for further funding are processed. No additional applications need to be made - just the usual one.

(3) If an application for further funding was rejected following a change of degree programme in the 2020/21 winter semester due to lack of adequate justification, an informal application should be made to have the decision reviewed as the change of degree programme must now be considered to have taken place after three semesters of study. The application will not be reviewed automatically unless an appeal is still pending.

bb) My funding application for the 2020/21 winter semester has already been granted.   

(1) I am receiving supplementary financial aid in the form of a loan to help me finish my studies (Sec. 15(3a) BAFÖG)!
In this case the decision will be changed retroactively to regular funding (grant/loan) from the beginning of the semester. A short informal application must be made to have the decision reviewed.

(2)  My BAföG funding was extended due to other reasons (pandemic, illness, committee work, etc.) (Sec. 15(3) Nos. 1–4 BAföG)!
In this case an application to have the decision reviewed is not necessary. If, by the end of the extension period granted, the student has not completed their studies, an application for further funding should be made in good time so that the standard period of study can be automatically extended.

(3) I have already submitted my performance record (Sec. 48(1) BAföG)
In this case further funding will be granted until the end of the maximum period of funding (an application for further funding must still be made). If the student is unable to complete their studies on time, the standard period of study is automatically extended by two semesters when an application is made for further funding.

cc) I was granted supplementary financial aid in the form of a loan to help me finish my studies (Sec. 15(3a) BAföG) in the 2020 summer semester because I had already exhausted the maximum period of funding and the reasons for delay were not officially recognised as such.

In these cases the BAföG funding period is not extended. However, students may continue to receive this supplementary financial aid for up to a further 12 months. Students who meet the requirements can receive this aid for up to a total of 24 months.

No. 2: Students who began studying in the 2020/21 winter semester

For these students the standard period of study is extended by up to one semester. Please note the following:

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The Department for Grants will automatically extend the maximum period of funding by one semester no sooner than at the beginning of the fifth semester of study or when the original standard period of study comes to an end. An application for further funding must be made before the end of the relevant funding period.

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Performance records showing that students have made the expected progress over the first four semesters of their course must be submitted one semester later, by the beginning of the sixth semester of study (the 2023 summer semester). Should this not be possible because, for example, certain exams are only offered once a year, evidence must be submitted to the Department for Grants along with the application for further funding.

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I want to start a master’s degree programme but I don’t yet have my bachelor’s degree Students who are admitted to master’s degree programmes while they are waiting for the results of their bachelor’s thesis will have their standard period of study automatically extended by one semester providing they remain in the master’s programme.