Federal Training Assistance Act (BAföG)
BAföG ("Bundesausbildungsförderungsgesetz") is a type of government funding for students in Germany. Students at higher technical colleges, academies and universities can receive benefits in accordance with the Federal Training Assistance Act (BAföG). The amount of support depends on the financial resources available to you and your parents. BAföG aims to give all people the opportunity to complete an education that corresponds with their talents and interests, regardless of their social and economic situation. The subsidy is usually paid in half as a grant and half as an interest-free state loan. High school pupils receive the grant in full, so they do not have to pay it back. Students who have already reached the age of 45 at the start of their education usually cannot receive BAföG.
Foreign nationals are generally eligible if they have a prospect of long-term stay in Germany and are already socially integrated. These are, for example, persons with a permanent residence permit. The list below gives a first indication of whether you can obtain BAföG and is not exhaustive.
Nationals of EU countries and Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Iceland and Norway are eligible if one of the following conditions apply:
- You work as an employee or self-employed person and enjoy freedom of movement within the EU.
- You have the right of permanent residence (usually after five years of lawful residence).
- Before starting your apprenticeship in Germany, you have been employed in a context related to the training.
Nationals of non-EU/EEA countries are eligible if one of the following conditions apply:
- You are in possession of a settlement permit or permanent residence EU permit under the Residence Act.
- You are the spouse or child of an EU/EEA national, who is an employee or a self-employed person and enjoys freedom of movement within the EU, and you accompany them.
- You are married to a German national and have moved to Germany.
- You are the spouse or child of a foreign national who holds a settlement permit.
- You have already lived in Germany for five years before starting your studies and have been gainfully employed (training, secondary employment or summer jobs are not regarded as gainful employment).
- Your father or mother has lived in Germany for three of the last six years before the beginning of your studies and was legally employed.
As the legislation is quite complex, it is recommended to contact the Counselling Centre for Study Financing of Studierendenwerk Hamburg.
Funding and scholarships
Some organisations offer scholarships especially for international students. The non-profit organisation DAAD (German Academic Exchange Service) has a comprehensive database of scholarships which can be filtered for country of origin and study programme. Scholarships are typically paid on a monthly basis, and should be used to cover living costs, health insurance and study material. Some scholarships are awarded to enable students to attend conferences, academies and language courses. A popular scholarship is the Deutschlandstipendium which is open to everyone ─ regardless of nationality or personal and parental income. Applications should typically be filed from your home country, but if you're already in Germany, you should apply within the first 15 months.
Another option to help fund your studies is taking up a part-time job. However, there may be restrictions on the number of hours you're allowed to work as an international student. In addition, working may affect or change the type of visa you need.
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