Where can I find information?: This is how the scholarship works

Scholarships can be a welcome support.

Where can I find information?: This is how the scholarship works

Scholarships can be a welcome support. But it's not that easy to keep an overview in the scholarship jungle. What is important and how do you find the right one?

In mid-October it means for many first-semester students: off to university. Leaving home and getting to know fellow students are usually the highlight of the first few weeks. But especially in times when prices are rising and students are confronted with high living costs, the question quickly arises: How do I actually finance my studies?

In addition to BAFÖG, there are scholarships available, of which there are over 2,500 nationwide. The most well-known programs include those of the 13 organizations for the promotion of gifted students. They are political, religious, trade union or company-related, and the framework conditions for funding are specified by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF). The Deutschlandstipendium, which is awarded by the universities, is also widespread. But there are also many time- and earmarked scholarships for stays abroad or dissertations on offer. Extensive research can therefore be worthwhile.

Interested parties can find initial information on the website mystipendium.de or on elternkompass.info from the German Business Foundation. There, for example, the "Stipendium-O-Mat" can provide initial orientation for suitable scholarships. Elternkompass also offers individual counseling sessions: based on personal background, the counselors recommend scholarships and give tips on how to apply.

In principle, admission to a scholarship program is also possible during your studies. However, Ulrich Müller from the Center for Higher Education Development (CHE) recommends applying early: "The earlier I have a scholarship, the longer I can be supported." For many programs, it is a requirement that those receiving funding study at least four more regular semesters. The application period is sometimes only twice a year.

For the application, scholarship providers often expect a letter of motivation, proof of social commitment and a personal report. A checklist with necessary documents can provide an overview.

Typical mistakes are not having them proofread or looking for the necessary documents, says Christina Lehmann from Elternkompass. You can also prepare well for job interviews. "Stay authentic, be honest and relaxed," advises Ulrich Hawel from the Rosa Luxemburg Foundation.

In addition to the grades, what matters most is the person as a whole. "In general, we try to fight scholarship myths and take away the fear of applying," says Lehmann. In particular, biographical obstacles such as a migration background, a non-academic background, flight connection or chronic illnesses can compensate for grades. "These are slowing down factors that we are trying to balance out socially," as Ulrich Hawel says.

Anyone who now brushes them off because there is no proof of social commitment should not be discouraged. Activities that you don't even think of at first often count. Caring for family members or private reading circles, for example, are a sign of social responsibility: "Don't be too humble, don't think yourself small," advises Müller. And Lehmann also says: "Such supposedly everyday things are immensely important for one's own commitment."

When deciding for or against a specific grant, those who are interested should ask themselves questions such as: Can I feel comfortable in the foundation? Do the represented values ​​match your own? And how would I like to contribute to the foundation? Such points should be addressed in the application letter. "You should know exactly which foundation you are dealing with," says Hawel.

An application does not always have to involve a great deal of effort. For smaller programs, a written application is often sufficient and there is a good chance of being accepted. "Sometimes it is very uncomplicated or feasible at short notice," says Müller. It is often worthwhile to apply for scholarships at the same time as you apply for BAFÖG. Similar documents are usually required anyway.

How much money ends up in the account after a successful recording varies. While smaller foundations finance a subsidy towards living costs, the amount for gifted support organizations is usually based on the Bafög rate. Anyone who receives the maximum subsidy rate has no BAFÖG entitlement.

"The huge advantage is that scholarships are 100% free money," says Müller. In contrast to Bafög, the funding does not have to be repaid. A grant of 300 euros is not counted. In addition, there is often ideal support in the form of workshops, seminars and the development of a professional network.

Even those who do not have a high school diploma can apply for scholarships. "People with professional qualifications usually don't think that a scholarship is possible," says Andreas van Nahl of the Vocational Education Foundation (SBB). The advancement scholarship, for example, supports experienced professionals for a first degree after completing their training. The SBB further training grant can be used to finance further training or aids.

In the end, even an unsuccessful application can have advantages. After all, you learn how to conduct job interviews: "Anyone who has done it once is calmer the second time," says Müller.