BAföG (National Student Grant)
According to BAföG §15(3) you may apply for the funding of additional semesters beyond the standard period of study. The following time frames are deemed reasonable:
- pregnancy: one semester per year
- up to the fifth year of age: one semester per year
- for the sixth and seventh year of age: one semester
- for the eighth to the tenth year of life: one semester
These time periods are estimates for single parent students. Couples may divide possible times of extension among themselves by joint declaration. During this funding phase, BAföG benefits are paid fully in form of grants (unless a second degree is undertaken).
Important: Take note: Times of extension for reason of childcare may only be claimed once, even if there is more than one child to be looked after. Furthermore, the care and education of a child have to be the principle reason for the delay of studies. You can receive advice at the Student Finance Department-student grants office of the Studierendenwerk Heidelberg.
Pregnancy and childcare may justify the late submission of evidence of academic achievements if the course of study got significantly delayed because of these reasons. Here, the same regulations apply as in cases of exceeding the maximum funding period; apart from the special regulation concerning the full grant funding option.
As a rule, students are only eligible for BAföG if they have not completed their 30th year at the beginning of their education (e.g. studies). This is true also for other parent-independent funding options, which require the completion of a professional education and three years of subsequent professional activity (minimum). Exceptions, however, can be made, for instance, for students who could not take up educational training on time because of personal or family reasons, such as raising their child (up to ten years of age) (§ 10 Section 3 BAföG). Students who take up their studies immediately after receiving their university entrance qualifications via second-chance education (night school, Kolleg or special admission for professional reasons) are funded irrespective of their age.
Take note: It is crucial to take up studies as soon as the exam is passed or the reason for postponement (such as parenting) is no longer applicable. Periods without studies or professional training between receiving the university entrance qualification and the beginning of child-rearing must not exceed three years. Furthermore, only the person who actually took care of the child/children may claim these times.
The requirement rate (Bedarfssatz) increases for student parents who live in the same household with at least one of their children under the age of 10. The allowance is granted as a lump sum without proof of childcare costs. Childcare allowance remains in place even if other social benefits such as federal parental benefits or housing benefits are claimed.
Students with children benefit from a higher monthly amount of exemption on income. There is an additional amount of exemption for a spouse; unless the spouse is also in educational training and meets the requirements for BAföG or support from the job centre, or has his/her own income to make his/her living. The child allowance that students receive for their child does not count towards the calculation of income under BAföG; income of the other parent, however, is to be credited against the projected amount of exemption. The same holds true for income accredited to the child (alimony payments or advanced alimony payments).
For student parents, the amount of exemption on assets increases, too.
Generally, BAföG is granted up to the maximum funding period in form of allowances and interest-free loans. The Federal Office of Administration is responsible for all kinds of questions and decisions regarding loan redemption (www.bundesverwaltungsamt.de or Bundesverwaltungsamt, Postfach 68 01 69, 50728 Köln). You are required to inform the Federal Office of Administration about changes of address after the end of BAföG funding.
The borrower may be exempted from repayment of the (state) loan, if his/her income is below a minimum amount. The income limit increases for a spouse and for every child, provided they do not benefit from subsidised education. In this case, the income of a spouse is credited against the amount of exemption. Exemption from repayment requirements commences with the month of application, and is usually granted for one year.
Note: Upon application, single parents can claim necessary childcare costs for household members under the age of sixteen when paying back the BAföG loan. In these cases, the income limit beyond which repayments become due increases by the amount of childcare costs per child.
Upon application, it is possible to reduce the amount to be paid back by up to 25%. For that, the student has to have passed her/his final exam until 31 December 2012 and within the maximum funding period with her/his results placing her/him in the top 30% of all graduates. In case of an extended time of study of one semester, the possible deduction is still 20%, if studies are extended by up to two semesters it decreases to 15%.
Note: We highly recommend consulting the advisory service of the Federal Office of Administration for all questions regarding BAföG loan redemption and exemption. Local BAföG offices are not involved in these decisions and therefore do not know all detailed provisions in their latest version.
If students on parent-related BAföG get married, the parents' responsibility to support their child does not end with marriage. However, the income of the spouse is given priority over the parents' income. In case of parent-independent funding (which requires, for instance, the completion of a professional education and three years of subsequent professional activity before taking up studies), the parents' income is not taken into account. Here, the same rules apply: upon marriage, the spouse has a duty to support his/her partner. In case of cohabitation, the partner's income is not taken into account under BAföG.
If an interruption of studies becomes necessary due to illness or pregnancy, BAföG is paid for three more months maximum (if no leave of absence is taken). After childbirth, the mother or father may, in principle, take a leave of absence and apply for social welfare.
Please note: During a leave of absence – for whatever reason – you are not entitled to BAföG benefits. During leave of absence for reasons of maternity leave or parental leave, credits may be acquired. Semesters off do not count towards subject-related semesters (Fachstudiensemester), unless you study abroad during the leave of absence. Special regulations are in effect at Heidelberg University of Education, see their information.
Note: You are, of course, under no obligation to take a leave of absence for reasons of pregnancy or childcare. If you do not take a leave of absence, pregnancy, childcare and parenting can be given as reasons for an extension of funding beyond the maximum funding period.
Universität Heidelberg - Zentrum für Studienberatung und Weiterbildung
Friedrich- Ebert-Anlage 62
Phone: 06221 54-5454.
Pädagogische Hochschule - Alte PH, Studienbüro
Contrary to earlier laws, beneficiaries receive accommodation allowance included in the BAföG payments if the child lives in the same household. If there is at least one family member in the same household (e.g. a child or a spouse), who does not receive educational grants, you may be eligible for housing benefits as well. In this case you should apply for housing benefits at the Wohngeldbehörde (housing benefit office).