Video: Ten Questions and Answers

The ten most important questions concerning BAföG are replied by our Head of Department for Grants, Hartmut Koch, in this video (german) from the University Leipzig.

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BAföG is in general dependent upon the parents’ income. Eligibility is governed by the parents’ income received in the last but one calendar year before the allowance period is to start. If you file the application e.g. in 2016, the income received in 2014 will count. If the income of one parent in the allowance period (usually from October to September of the following year) is less than two years ago, you may apply for an update of the application. BAföG is then granted conditionally subject to reclaim. This applies as well, if the final tax statement from the parents is not available yet.

The exception is funding independent upon parents‘ income. The parents‘ income is not relevant, if the student or trainee has worked for at least five years after having competed the 18th year of life or has completed at least three years of vocational training and worked at least three years or, if the training was shorter, has worked accordingly longer and received a certain minimum income.

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The loan can be granted only after the application was filed (received at the office at the latest on October 31, if you are eligible for the loan as of October). Therefore, submit your BAföG application in good time!

Funding commences with the month the application is filed, though at the earliest when the education/training starts. An informal application is initially sufficient to meet the deadline. BAföG is usually granted for one year (two semesters). Applications for continued assistance must be submitted completely at the latest two months before the former allowance period expires to ensure continued funding without interruptions.

If you do not file the required documents within the officially stipulated period, you are notified and subsequently the application is rejected due to lack of cooperation. Exception: You inform the office beforehand about the delayed procurement of the documents.

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You can complete the BAföG application forms easily online on the BAföG page of the Sächsische Studentenwerke, which provides an online fill-in helper. If your data are complete and plausible, your application is converted into a pdf file. You need to print out this pdf file and sign the application. Then send it to the BAföG office. Do not send the pdf file by e-mail, as your signature on the original application is required. The documents needed to process your application are shown in a list.

The application forms are also available at the BAföG office of the Studentenwerk Leipzig in Goethestraße 6, 04109 Leipzig.

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When you handed in all the necessary documents, the processing time is about two months.

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The BAföG amount is calculated on an individual basis, so that the full amount is not always granted, but also partial funding is possible. Amounts less than 10 € are not paid out though.

The maximum amount granted to students living with their parents is currently 495 €, for students who do not live with their parents 670 € per month (as at August 2015). As of winter semester 2016/2017, the maximum amount for students living with their parents is raised to 547 €, for students who do not live with their parents to 735 € per month.

Students living with their child/children in their own household are granted a childcare allowance. For every child, the monthly demand increases by 130 €. This amount is paid only in the form of an allowance (no loan).

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Your income from employment during the allowance period must not exceed gross 4,800 € (from August 2016 5.400 €), as it will otherwise be taken into account with regard to the granted BAföG amount (except for internships and freelance work). Assets at the amount of 5,200 € (from August 2016 7.500 €) at the time the application is filed will not be taken into account. Assets exceeding this amount will be allotted to the months of the allowance period and reduce the BAföG amount.

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If parents refuse to provide information or do not pay the officially stipulated monthly alimony, you should immediately contact the counselor in charge at the BAföG office.

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Any changes of information given in the application must be communicated to the BAföG office on all accounts. The office then decides whether such changes affect the eligibility (e.g. changes with regard to siblings, income, residence, academic leave of absence, dropout, etc.)

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As of the fifth semester, BAföG will be granted only with positive performance records, i.e. if the availability of the usual academic achievements from the first four semesters is confirmed. The college or university is responsible to issue this confirmation or certificate. The BAföG recipients themselves are responsible to present the confirmation or certificate to the authority. Students, who get form 5 issued in the first four months of the fourth semester, only need to have the academic achievements confirmed until the third semester. If no academic performance records are available, you should contact the counselor in charge to have checked whether it is possible to present the performance records later.

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You can change the field of study for reason only until the end of the third semester. After that, irrefutable reasons must be available. So far, students were granted BAföG only in the form of interest-bearing bank loans after changing their field of study for reason. This has been changed. If you plan to change your field of study, we recommend contacting the BAföG office as soon as possible to ask how you can receive BAföG half as zero interest loan and half as grant money.

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Students receiving BAföG and not living with their parents can apply to obtain an exemption from the license fee (former GEZ)*. It is not required anymore to file a provisional application for exemption. The license fee service page says in this regard:

“When reforming the exemption procedure, the legislative authority took into consideration that the required evidence from the relevant authority may not always be submitted in time for the application for exemption or reduction. It is now possible to be granted exemption or reduced contribution with retrospective effect.”

Important information on the license fee and the exemption application form are available on the website of the public broadcasting license fee.

*Since January 1, 2013, the simple rule applies that you need to pay a monthly fee per residence and not per person anymore (as previously with the GEZ payment). The exemption applies only to you as the BAföG recipient. If you live in a shared flat, every person living there needs to apply separately for the exemption.

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Benefits according to BAföG

§ 14 para 2 no. 27 clause a of the German housing allowance act (WoGG) specifies that one half of the benefits paid as allowance according to BAföG, except for the childcare allowance according to § 14b BAföG, is included in the annual income, irrespective of whether the student receiving the allowance lives with his/her parents or not.

Benefits from organizations sponsoring gifted students

According to § 14 para 2 no. 27 clause b WoGG, one half of the allowance paid by organizations sponsoring gifted students is included in the annual income, unless listed in § 14 para 2 clause 28 WoGG (see no. 14.21.28).

Organizations sponsoring gifted students in terms of § 14 para 2 Nr. 27 clause b WoGG are in particular

1. Cusanuswerk e. V., Bischöfliche Studienförderung, Bonn;

2. Evangelisches Studienwerk e. V., Haus Villigst, Schwerte;

3. Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung e. V., Bonn;

4. Friedrich-Naumann-Stiftung für die Freiheit e. V., Bereich Begabtenförderung, Potsdam;

5. Förderungswerk Hanns-Seidel-Stiftung e. V., München;

6. Hans-Böckler-Stiftung e. V., Düsseldorf;

7. Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung e. V., Berlin;

8. Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung e. V., St. Augustin;

9. Bundesstiftung Rosa-Luxemburg e. V., Berlin;

10. Stiftung der Deutschen Wirtschaft e. V., im Haus der Deutschen Wirtschaft, Berlin;

11. Studienstiftung des Deutschen Volkes e. V., Bonn;

12. Ernst Ludwig Ehrlich Studienwerk e. V. (ELES), Potsdam;

13. Stiftung Begabtenförderung berufliche Bildung (SBB), Bonn.

Scholarships

Pursuant to § 14 para 2 no. 27 clause c WoGG, one half of the benefits paid to sponsor gifted students, which are not paid by organizations sponsoring gifted students (but e.g. by the Länder, universities, or companies) is included in the annual income. One half of corresponding benefits paid by Otto-Benecke-Stiftung and other scholarships, unless listed in § 14 para 2 no. 27 clause b, no. 28, or no. 29 WoGG, is included in the annual income as well.

Housing allowance for trainees and students

(1) Students are eligible for housing allowance, if one or more members of the household is in principle not entitled to training assistance according to BAföG or pursuant to §§ 59 to 73, 75, 101 para 3 or § 104 SGB III (German Social Security Code). That is the case, if a course of studies or a vocational training is not eligible for assistance even if considered abstractly or reasons regarding the applicant are available, which exclude the corresponding assistance (unless the exclusion is made according to the amount).

Therefore, persons may be entitled to housing allowance, if

1. The vocational training/course of study is not eligible for funding pursuant to BAföG or SGB III (§§ 2 and 3 BAföG, §§ 59 to 73, 75 SGB III),

2. The vocational training/course of study does not demand the full workforce of the trainee/student (formal part-time training) and therefore is not eligible for BAföG pursuant to § 2 para 5 BAföG,

3. Foreign persons apply for the housing allowance who do not meet the requirements of § 8 BAföG or § 63 SGB III. If the WoGG is in general applicable in this regard, observe in addition § 3 para 5 WoGG,

4. The age limit for training assistance pursuant to § 10 para 3 BAföG is exceeded,

5. The training was aborted or the field of study changed for no important or irrefutable reason (§ 7 para 3 and 4 BAföG),

6. The requirements for funding of continuing training are not met pursuant to § 7 para 2 BAföG or pursuant to §§ 59 and 60 para 2 SGB III,

7. The maximum period of assistance is exceeded (§ 15 para 2 BAföG in connection with the regulation on the maximum period of assistance pursuant to § 15a BAföG) and the requirements for continuing assistance pursuant to § 15 Abs. 3 BAföG or for graduation funding pursuant to § 15 para 3a BAföG are not met by their nature,

8. The training is not eligible for assistance in terms of § 62 SGB III, because it is in whole or in parts effected abroad, and the requirements specified in § 62 para 1 or para 2 SGB III are not met, the trainee or student lives in the area of application of the WoGG though (cross-border commuter),

9. They are pupils who cannot be funded pursuant to BAföG, but are in general entitled to training assistance according to the regional regulations of the Land,

10. They are trainees attending vocational training in companies or vocational training centers, who do not belong to the group of rehabilitees, not being entitled to training assistance pursuant to § 64 SGB III,

11. They are trainees receiving benefits from organizations sponsoring gifted students (see no. 14.21.27b) (§ 2 para 6 no. 2 BAföG),

12. They are trainees who are excluded from training assistance, because they did not provide the performance records required pursuant to § 48 para 1 BAföG,

13. They are trainees who do not meet the requirements as specified in § 2 para 1a BAföG,

14. The maximum period of graduation funding (§ 15 para 3a BAföG) is exceeded,

15. They are disabled persons not entitled to training assistance, because transitional allowance can be provided (§ 104 SGB III),

a) during vocational training or educational program including basic training/education or

b) during an introductory program or vocational training in a sheltered workshop,

16. They are trainees who work as government employees and receive aspirant emoluments or similar benefits from public funds (§ 2 para 6 no. 3 BAföG).

If none of the cases given in clause 1 is given, the trainee/student shall not be entitled to housing allowance simply because he/she does not apply for training assistance.

(2) If household members receive training assistance pursuant to § 74 SGB III, they are entitled to training assistance benefits in the merits of §§ 59 to 73 and 75 SGB III.

Assistance as loan

If a household member is granted the complete training assistance benefits exclusively as loan, the WoGG shall be applicable. This is e.g. the case with the graduation funding pursuant to § 15 para 3a in connection with § 17 para 3 BAföG.

Collaboration of the housing allowance authority with the training assistance agencies

The housing allowance authority needs to examine whether the trainee/student is in principle ineligible for training assistance. If there are still doubts afterwards, the authority in charge of the training assistance shall provide administrative cooperation.

As at November 2014

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When you study abroad during your studies in Germany, a period of up to one year will not be counted in the number of semesters, unless the study guidelines provide for the study abroad. Special offices for the BAföG abroad are provided, which are responsible for the decision.

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The maximum funding period is determined by the standard period of study. Under certain conditions, funding is possible beyond the standard period of study. Contact your personal counselor and get advice.

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The BAföG office issues a multitude of administrative decisions sent to the applicants in writing. Sometimes the recipient of the decision has the impression that the law was not applied correctly in his or her case. He or she now has the possibility to appeal against the decision.

Is it absolutely necessary to appeal?

Administrative experience shows that in many cases it helps to appear at the BAföG office in person and talk to the counselor in charge to solve the problem. This applies in particular to rental costs, sibling allowances, health and nursing care insurance allowances, changed income situation of the parents, or the assessment of the applicant’s income and assets and many other things. That is why we recommend - before you appeal - contacting the counselor in charge of you or the team leader in person or by phone within the period stipulated in the decision, who will explain the decision.

If this personal consultation does not dispel your doubts regarding the factual and legal situation, there is still the option to appeal. The appeal will be initially processed at the BAföG office, where the factual and legal situation reviewed. If the result is that the law not being applied correctly, the BAföG office will issue a remedial decision. If this is not the case, the applicant will receive a written statement on the factual and legal situation. This statement includes the request to withdraw the appeal.

If the appeal is not withdrawn, the file will be forwarded to the supervisory control authority – the Saxon State Office for Training Assistance (Sächsisches Landesamt für Ausbildungsfoerderung) – to decide. If the Saxon State Office arrives at the decision that the appeal is justified after all, the BAföG office will be instructed to remedy the appeal. If this is not the case, the Saxon State Office will issue a decision on the appeal in writing, which is appealable only by filing a lawsuit with the administrative court (Verwaltungsgericht) Leipzig.

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One half of BAföG for students is usually given out as grant money and the other half as zero interest loan. A maximum of 10,000 Euro must be repaid of the zero interest loan – if you commenced your studies not earlier than in March 2001.

The Bundesverwaltungsamt (Federal Administration Office) is responsible for collecting the loan. Repayment starts five years after the maximum assistance period ends (in case of bachelor’s/ master‘s degree, referring to the bachelor’s degree and therefore not to the end of the studies) and takes a maximum of 20 years. You will be informed in writing about the loan amount and the start date of repayment about six months before the repayment is to start. The instalment amount is usually 105 Euro per month. Repayment depends on income, i.e. low-income earners may be even exempted from repayment. If the loan amount is repaid prematurely, a discount will be granted – upon request (!).

You need to notify the Federal Administration Office in charge of the loan administration and collection directly about changes of your address or name (D-50728 Köln; bafoeg {{ätt}} bva {{punkt}} bund {{punkt}} de).

Tip: Students who passed their final exams until 12-31-2012: If you graduate from your studies within a particularly short period or particularly successful, you can apply at the Federal Administration Office to be released of part of the loan debt within one month after receipt of the repayment notice.

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Please not: the english version is not binding

I. § 8 para 1 BAföG Nationality

Training assistance is granted to

No. 1 Germans in terms of the German Constitution pursuant to No. 1

No. 2 EU citizens entitled to permanent residence or other aliens with permanent settlement permit pursuant to German Residence Act (AufhG)

No. 3 Spouses or children of EU citizens, who are entitled to free movement under Community law according to § 3 para 1 and 4 of the EU act on the free movement of persons or who as children are not entitled to such claims because they are 21 years or older and do not receive alimony from their parents or spouses. Applicant is entitled to free movement as employee within the EU or as self-employed worker and has been working at least ten weeks prior to the application. Evidence is available.

No. 4 EU citizens, who were employed before they commenced the training or studies (relation as regards content)

No. 5 Citizens of another contract state of the Treaty on the European Economic Area under the requirements specified in no. 2 to 4

No. 6 Aliens with usual residence in Germany being refugees outside the Federal territory under the treaty relating to the legal status of refugees and entitled to residence in the Federal Republic of Germany not only temporarily,

No. 7 Displaced aliens in terms of the Act on the legal status of displaced aliens

II. Pursuant to § 8 para 2 BAföG to

Aliens with permanent residence in Germany

No. 1 who have a residence permit pursuant to §§ 22, 23 para 1 or. 2, §§ 23a, 25 para 1 or 2, §§ 28, 37, 38 para 1 no. 2, § 104a or as spouses or children of aliens with residence or settlement permit pursuant to § 30 or §§ 32 to 34 AufhG. In case of German spouses: residence permit and copy of marriage certificate are sufficient.

No. 2 who have a residence permit pursuant to § 25 para 3, para 4 clause 2 or para 5, § 31 AufhG or as spouses or children of aliens with residence permit pursuant to § 30 or §§ 32 to 34 AufhG and have been permitted or given exceptional leave to stay lawfully and without interruption in Germany for at least 15 months years.

III. Pursuant to § 8 para 2a

The applicant is a tolerated alien (§ 60a AufhG) with a permanent residence in Germany and has been permitted or given exceptional leave to stay lawfully and without interruption in Germany for at least 15 months.

IV. Pursuant to § 8 para 3 BAföG

The applicant himself/herself has been staying in Germany for five years before commencing the training/education or a parent has been lawfully employed in Germany for altogether three years within the last six years prior to the commencement of the training/education eligible for funding.

V. Pursuant to § 8 para 4 BAföG

Trainee who is as a spouse personally eligible for funding pursuant to para 1 or 2 does not lose the eligibility for BAföG by being permanently separated or the marriage being dissolved, if he/she continues to stay lawfully in Germany.

As at: August 2015