The lecture halls at the universities will soon be filled with life again. New rules for BAFÖG will apply from the winter semester. Why an application is worthwhile in many cases and what you should pay attention to.
The winter semester will soon begin at the universities. If you start or continue your studies, you also have to think about financing. If the money for studying is too tight, there is help from the state in the form of BAFÖG.
"Even if you're not quite sure whether you can be funded, you should just apply," advises Ulrich Müller from the Center for Higher Education Development (CHE).
The 27th BAFÖG amendment, which came into force in the summer of 2022, expands the group of those eligible for funding. On the one hand, this is due to the higher allowances for parental income. 2415 euros of parental income per month are exempt from deductions, which is 20.75 percent more than before. On the other hand, applicants can have greater assets and still receive BAFÖG. Anyone under the age of 30 can have assets of EUR 15,000, and assets over 30 can amount to EUR 45,000.
In addition, the legislator has raised the age limit for starting training with state aid - from 30 to 45 years. For students, the support rate will also increase from 427 to 452 euros per month. Anyone who no longer lives with their parents gets 35 euros more for the rent - 360 euros in fact.
In order for everything to go as smoothly as possible when applying for and paying back the state subsidy, it is worth following the following seven tips:
Submit BAFÖG application digitally
Be sure to use www.bafoeg-digital.de. "Instead of filling out boxes as in the paper application, questions are asked here, which is helpful with the bureaucratic language," says Matthias Anbuhl, General Secretary of the German Student Union. Until now, you had to print out and sign the online form or use the e-ID function of your ID card for authentication. "That's no longer necessary," says Ulrich Müller.
If you only notice at the end of the month in which the semester begins that funding could be lost without a BAFÖG application, you can quickly submit an informal application within the month to meet the deadline. "The date of receipt counts," says Matthias Anbuhl.
Use the application wizard
Anyone who uses the online application process will get all the help there. If you still have questions, you can use a free BAFÖG hotline: 0800 2236341 (Monday to Friday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.).
submit a follow-up application
Students should submit the follow-up application as early as possible. In this way, they can be sure that funding will continue without interruption.
"Normally, when calculating BAFÖG, the parents' income from the penultimate calendar year is taken into account," says Ulrich Müller.
If the parents are currently losing income or are unemployed, students who have already been funded by BAFÖG should submit an application for an update. The BAFÖG funding amount may then increase due to the reduced parental income.
Apply for foreign BAFÖG in good time
BAFÖG abroad is available for a maximum of one year, or even for the entire course if you are studying in the EU or Switzerland. With the Auslands-BAFÖG, up to 5600 euros per year are paid for tuition fees and travel expenses. "It is important to plan well in advance and to submit the application at least six months before you travel," says Ulrich Müller.
The general rule:
"Never take the domestic BAFÖG abroad," says Matthias Anbuhl. Because other BAFÖG offices are responsible for foreign countries.
Check side jobs
BAFÖG recipients can have a part-time job. The monthly Bafög will not be reduced as long as the monthly income from the part-time job is a maximum of 520 euros from October (previously 450 euros per month).
In the BAFÖG approval period (twelve months) you can earn a total of 6240 euros per year from the winter semester 2022/2023, with the amount of the monthly income being flexible. Those who earn more must expect cuts. Important: "With health insurance, income above the mini-job limit leads to your own health insurance obligation," says Matthias Anbuhl.
Don't panic about the repayment
At least half of BAFÖG is donated money with no obligation to repay it. The loan portion of the Bafög is interest-free. A maximum of 10,010 euros must be repaid depending on income. All repayment obligations expire after 20 years at the latest.
Anyone who receives the BAFÖG maximum rate during ten semesters of study receives more than 50,000 euros from the state. Of this, only 10,010 euros have to be repaid. That sounds like a lot of money for students, and it undoubtedly is. "But if you have a job, then it's doable," says Ulrich Müller.
As the magazine "Finanztest" states, students can also have a tidy part of the repayment amount waived if they repay their entire debt in one go before the start of repayment.