Studying has to be paid for. The joy of receiving a place at university is often followed by the question of how your studies are going to be financed. studierendenWERK BERLIN looks after your BAföG application and provides you with advice on financing your studies.
Because of the 26th BAföG Amending Act ("BAföG-Änderungsgesetz") the maximum amount of support increases by more than 17 % in three stages until 2021. The aim is to get more students into the BAföG funding area. Furthermore, the requirement rates, the surcharges for health and care insurance as well as for housing costs have been increased. The exemption of own income and parents' assets has been improved by higher allowances. The formerly interest-bearing BAföG bank loan (KfW) was exchanged for the "interest-free BAföG full loan" (state). The repayment conditions of the loan have been improved by a debt cut. In the future, it will also be possible, for example, to take into account extensions of study periods/overruns of the standard study period due to the care of close relatives (from nursing level 3). The upbringing of one's own children is taken into account until the age of 14 instead of 10 years.
If you are a student of a state or state-recognised university in Berlin, studierendenWERK BERLIN (a public-law institution) is your Office for Educational Support and your point of contact in matters relating to BAföG.
* In each decision letter, you will find the extension number you need to reach your case worker.
Personal consultation times are currently cancelled.
(Please do not call during the above-named counselling hours, as these times are reserved for personal advice sessions.) If you still have not received a decision letter, please note the name and telephone number of your case worker during the first advice session.
Outside of the counselling hours, you can place your documents in a sealed envelope and put them in the mailboxes at Behrenstraße or at our InfoPoints.
In front of the building, we have parking places for disabled people. Students who use wheelchairs can use the gate entrance, located next to the main entrance. Please ring the buzzer and then head right to the rear entrance. This is where you can access the elevator.
General information on BAföG and information material can be obtained from our Infopoints. Application forms are only available from the InfoPoints Hardenbergstrasse and Behrensstrasse.
You should submit your application immediately after you have received a notice of admission and you have decided to study in Berlin.
It is important that you submit your application for educational support funding as early as possible (6-8 weeks before the semester starts). You should submit your application immediately after you have received a notice of admission and you have decided to study in Berlin.
It is very important to observe the deadlines: educational support funding is provided from the beginning of the month in which the course of study is started; no earlier, however, than the start of the month in which you applied.
If, for example, you started your studies in April 2017 and did not make an application until May 2017, you will only receive educational support funding from May 2017. You will have lost any claim to financial support for the month of April.
The application must always be made on the form provided (Form 1) and signed with your own signature. This also applies if you completed the application via our BAföG website but you did not authenticate using your new-style ID card or electronic residence permit.
Here, authentication is done electronically, meaning you no longer have to print out and sign the application. After selecting this option, you are guided through the next steps. Your application will receive a telenumber and will then be sent. The date on which it is successfully sent will apply as the application date. You can download the submitted application as a PDF for your records.
WITHOUT electronic identity verification (online application)
With this process, your data will be sent to the relevant office and a PDF file will be created. The PDF application form will contain a telenumber. Please print out and sign this form. You then scan the signed application form and upload it via the Upload Documents button on the top right. This will send it to the relevant office. The date on which it is successfully sent will apply as the application date. You keep the printed version.
WITHOUT electronic identity verification (applying by post or handing over your application in person at the office)
With this process, your data will be sent to the relevant office and a PDF file will be created. The PDF application form will contain a telenumber. Please print out and sign this form. You then send the signed application to the Office for Educational Support which is handling your application. Alternatively, you can hand over in person at the office. This is because your original signature is required. Important: it is only when this signed paper application is received by the Office for Educational Support which is handling your application that a valid, dated application has been made. The date stamp of the Office will be exclusively valid in this case.
However, a signed letter – which can be sent by fax or scanned by email – is sufficient to meet the deadline. You then submit the signed forms afterwards (via post or our Upload Portal).
Educational support funding decisions are usually valid for one year (approval period) unless the course of study ends before one year has passed, or the application was submitted during the current semester, or proof of achievement is due beforehand, or if you spend a summer abroad/take a semester-long leave of absence.
You should then submit a new application for funding two months before the end of the approval period. If you miss this deadline, you will not lose the right to financial support, but you will be subject to an (avoidable) interruption to your payments.
The studierendenWERK BERLIN always provides you with free and reliable advice and application processing. If you have any questions, please contact the BAföG office staff by telephone or during office hours. For an uncomplicated and environmentally friendly BAföG application, we recommend the BAföG online webpage of studierendenWERK BERLIN. All important information and forms for your application are stored in this online portal. You can save your data for subsequent applications. In addition, you can upload your documents there after you have filled them in. Further information can be found below.
We therefore strongly advise you not to use services that are subject to a fee. We are not permitted by law to accept applications with an online signature submitted in this way.
We recommend that you fill out the application via our BAföG Online Portal. This offers you numerous advantages. Your details will be immediately checked for correctness and completeness. You will immediately receive a list of documents that you must add to your application.
For your first application you need:
Appendix 1 to Form 1
Appendix 2 to Form 1 (if you have children)
Form 2, or your enrolment certificate (as per §9 BAföG) for the current semester
Form 3 for each of the following: your mother, your father and, if applicable, your spouse/registered partner
Students from outside Germany may also need Form 4 (please only submit this if we request it).
Students can fill out Form 1 themselves, as it only contains questions which can be answered based on your own knowledge, such as your address, your parents’ address, and other statistical data. If you do not live with your parents or a residence owned by your parents, you will get €325 as a flat-rate supplement for your rent. For this, submit your rental contract or your proof of residence (Meldebescheinigung). If you are not covered by your parents’ health insurance and instead you have your own health insurance, tell us about this on line 63 and submit a certificate from your health insurer stating that you are not covered by dependents’ co-insurance. Under certain conditions, you can then receive a health and care insurance supplement of €84 or €25. If you are no longer insured under the compulsory student insurance - e.g. because you are older than 29 years or are already studying in the 15th semester - a supplement of up to €155 or €34 is granted for the proven health and care insurance contributions.
It is important that your bank details (IBAN) are entered correctly, because educational support payments are only made by bank transfer. Please take care to enter your bank details correctly and legibly.
When entering information on your own income, you must enter and show evidence of all expected income within the approval period, which is usually one year. Not every euro you earn will automatically reduce your financial support. The annual gross income of unmarried students is not taken into account unless it is over €5,400.
Examples of assets to be disclosed are savings, equity and securities, life insurance, motor vehicles (also motorcycles) and land. Decisions are based on the value at the time your application is made. For single students, assets of up to €8,200 are not included within calculations: assets that exceed this amount are subtracted from your financial support. The subtractions are spread out equally over each month. For a spouse or the registered partner, and for each child of the applicant, the amount of assets excluded from calculations increases by €2,100. In order to avoid unfair hardship, other assets can also be excluded from the calculations (e.g. Riester pension assets or a small owner-occupied apartment). For more information, ask for advice during our consultation sessions. Please note that the information you provide about your assets is reviewed annually by the Federal Tax Office. Please provide accurate information. This saves both you and the Office a great deal of work, stress and, in some cases, substantial trouble. You must specify all the assets held in accounts that bear your name. This also applies if you believe the holdings in question do not belong to you anymore. The legal assessment is performed by the Office for Educational Support.
Appendix 1 to Form 1
You should pay particular attention to the information on your school and work experience (Appendix 1 to Form 1). It is especially important to avoid entering time gaps. Otherwise, there may be further questions. This information is important, for example for checking your claim to parent-independent support. The conditions for this are explained in chapter 8.
Appendix 2 to Form 1
For the granting of the childcare allowance for your own children, please complete Appendix 2 to Form 1. The form must be signed by you and the other parent.
Form 2 does not need to be submitted if you submit an electronic enrolment certificate on which your university has printed the relevant data. This is called a Certificate per §9 BAföG, and is issued by almost all Berlin universities as standard. You only need to enter your own name and your university’s name on the front page. On the reverse side, in line 42, you must state your subject and the current semester/year of your studies at the time of your application. There is a space at the end of the form which the university uses to confirm your enrolment.
Form 3 is for information on the income of your parents, and that of your spouse or registered partner if you have one. In addition, further information on each individual’s personal situation (e.g. on the type of occupation and civil status) is required. This applies especially to other children of your parents. If only one parent has income, the non-working parent can confirm this on page 4 of Form 3. If both parents have income, they must each complete their own income statement. The income from the penultimate calendar year before the start of the approval period (see Point 5) must be proven by submitting the corresponding income tax assessment. This means that for an application for the winter semester 2019/20 or summer semester 2020, income statements for the calendar year 2018 must be submitted.
The applicable personal circumstances (civil status, children) of your parents will be those which apply during the approval period.
If the tax office has not yet issued a tax assessment for the relevant calendar year, an employer’s certificate is sufficient for the gross salary and taxes paid. Income of parents who are not employed and receive benefits such as unemployment support or a pension must be proven with (non-notarised) copies of the payment decision letters, e.g. from the Agentur für Arbeit (Employment Agency) or the pension insurer.
If income tax assessment is compulsory – e.g. for a tradesperson, some retirees, certain tax class combinations – and the relevant tax assessment has not yet been completed, the application is decided on the basis of other credible proof of income. This means that educational support funding is provided, with the proviso that it may need to be repaid later. As soon as the tax assessment is submitted to the Office for Educational Support, the application is complete.
Students who do not hold German citizenship may also need Form 4. Please only submit this if we request it, however.
Students who do not hold German citizenship can receive BAföG in some cases, for instance if:
You are a recognized asylum seeker/refugee
You have worked in Germany for at least 5 years before your studies (vocational training is not included in this)
Your mother or father have been legally employed in Germany for at least 3 of the last 6 years
Specific residency criteria are fulfilled (e.g. permanent residence within the country, residence permit or settlement permit per specific regulations of the Residence Act)
Prior to your first BAföG application, you have been working for at least 10 weeks as an EU citizen in Germany (at least 12 hours a week) and you are thus exercising your rights to freedom of movement and will be maintaining your employment during your studies
Since your BAföG entitlement is subject to the provisions of the German Federal Training Assistance Act and the Residence Act, you should definitely come to us for advice. It is almost impossible to understand these regulations without outside help.
Form 5 and proof of ECTS credits are required if you apply for funding for a fifth semester or higher and you have not provided proof of achievement (Leistungsnachweis).
Students who live with their parents receive
Extra payment if student has own health insurance
Possible extra payment for care insurance
Maximum monthly support
The extra insurance payments are usually only available for those aged 25 and above.
Students who do not live with their parents (live in their own flat/shared flat/student residence) receive
Flat-rate extra payment for rent
Extra payment if student has own health insurance
Possible extra payment for care insurance
Maximum monthly support
In addition students who live in a family unit with at least one child of their own get a payment increases of €140 per month for every child under 14 years of age. The extra payment is granted to only one parent within a single time period. If both parents live together and are receiving funding via BAföG, they must agree among themselves who will receive this payment.
In addition to your own income, the income of your parents is included, as is the income of your spouse if you are married, or your registered life partner if you have one.
Key to the decision is the income from the penultimate calendar year before the start of the approval period.
Example: When making an application for the winter semester 2019/20, the relevant income is that from the calendar year of 2017. (The income year used to reach a decision is determined by when your approval period begins.)
For deciding which income is to be used in the calculations, the law provides fixed exemption amounts, both for the parents and for any other children eligible for maintenance. The more of your siblings are currently in education, the less your parents are obliged to contribute financially to your studies. Your entitlement to educational support funding would thus increase. But even if you are the only child who is studying, it is worth checking whether you are entitled to BAföG.
If your parents earn more than the exempted amount, they calculations will be made on the basis of your need for support, and you will not receive the highest amount. You will find the calculations in your decision letter. An application for an update or advance payment (maintenance advance) may be considered for you.
If the income of the person in question has reduced substantially in comparison to the previous year, for instance due to unemployment or retirement, this can be taken into account on special request. For example, the income from 2019 instead of 2017 would be used for the assessment for the winter semester 2019/20.
Please make this request with Form 7. Income which is not yet certain will be estimated. The more accurate the estimate is, the more likely you are to avoid possible repayments after the final calculation is performed using information on the actual income as stated in a tax assessment. You must calculate this risk with your parent(s).
A preconditions is that the amount of support you receive each month would have to increase by at least €10.
When working out how much support you may get, your own income (e.g. via part-time jobs or holiday jobs) during the approval period is always important.
If you are an employee, income of up to €450 euros per month is not included in the calculations. For example, if you earned no more than a total of €5,400 from October 2019 to September 2020, your financial support would not be reduced. If you have earned more, the excess amount is divided by 12 and deducted from your financial support.
This is different with income you receive from an apprenticeship (e.g. payment for an internship, or if you are within the dual educational system). In this case, your income – minus work-related (tax) deductions and social insurance payments – will be fully included in the calculations used to determine the amount of financial support you receive. The total income during the approval period is calculated then split into equal amounts for each month.
In the case of income from one-off jobs similar, any profits over €324 per month are used in the calculations. The total income during the approval period is calculated, then split evenly across the months of the approval period.
Parent-Independent Financial Support
Parent-independent financial support is certainly the most generous form of support, as the income of parents is not taken into account. “Parent-independent financial support” cannot exactly be applied for; instead, the office examines whether you have met the conditions on the basis of the information you give in Appendix 1 to Form 1 (CV).
Parent-independent financial support is granted if:
You begin your studies after turning 30 (please ensure to make note of Point 9)
After turning 18, you have been in employment for five years (employment periods do not have to be linked, they can be make of up several smaller time periods)
You were in education or training for up to three years, and then in employment, and the combined time studying and working was at least six years.
Employment also includes periods of military service, civilian service, federal voluntary service, a voluntary social or ecological year, development service, as well as periods in which you have received unemployment benefits and/or sickness benefits. However, your income must have been sufficient to maintain yourself. For more information, please contact the Office for Educational Support.
If your parent/parents refuse to provide the calculated income amount as a cash maintenance allowance (or they refuse to provide the necessary information on their income), it is possible to request advance payment (“maintenance advance”).
If an application is made, the State of Berlin (represented by studierendenWERK BERLIN) will if applicable pay all or part of the maintenance amount in advance, after consulting the parents/the parent and examining the facts.
In turn, your regular entitlement to maintenance from your parents will be converted to entitlement to maintenance from the State of Berlin. This entitlement will be equivalent to the amount paid in advance. If a subsequent examination reveals that there is a higher level of maintenance required for your university education and your parents are able to pay this, the State of Berlin can demand that your parents repay the financial support that was paid to you in advance. If needed, this demand may be made before a Family Court.
If, on the other hand, the examination reveals that there is no longer any further liability for maintenance, then your will in effect receive parent-independent financial support. However, whether this is the case will be decided by current case law.
If your parents offer benefits in kind (housing and meals, for example in the parents’ home), advance payments are either reduced or not possible at all. You may then have to make a complaint against your parents. For these maintenance proceedings, you may also have to attempt yourself to resolve the issues of financial maintenance or child support in kind.
In principle, educational support funding is no longer provided if you have reached the age of 30 (35 for a Master’s degree) at the start of the course for which you are requesting educational support funding.
Exceptions are possible:
If you met the access requirements for financially supported education at a technical higher secondary school (attendance of which requires you to have completed vocational training), at an evening lower secondary school, a vocational preparatory school, an evening grammar school, or a college, or if you met the access requirements by passing a non-pupils’ examination or an entrance examination.
Because of your professional qualifications, you have been enrolled in a higher education institution without a university entrance qualification.
If you were unable to start your educational period at the regular time for personal or family reasons. A specific example of this is if you have been uninterruptedly raising your own child (aged under 14) when you reach the age limit and up to the start of your course, and you have been employed during this period up to a maximum of 30 hours per week (as a monthly average). Single parents are also allowed to work for more than 30 hours a week, thus avoiding the need for support in the form of Grundsicherung (basic social assistance benefits).
If you were prevented from starting your studies because of caring for your parents or close relatives [from care level (Pflegestufe) 3].
If you have become needy as a result of a drastic changes in your personal circumstances and have not yet graduated from any course that can be promoted under this Act and that qualifies you for a profession.
For an exemption from the age limit, you must begin your course immediately upon fulfilling the entrance requirements, or upon the reasons hindering you ceasing to apply, or upon a need arising as the result of major changes in your personal circumstances.
Starting a Master’s degree is always counted as a new course. This thus means that checks must be run (again) on your status in relation to the age limit.
From the fifth semester, BAföG funding is paid only after a performance check. In addition to the application for funding, the submission of proof of achievement (Leistungsnachweis) is necessary.
Form: If a positive proof of achievement for the 3rd semester is received by the Office within the first four months of the fourth semester (31 July/31 January) – a receipt stamp from the Studierendenwerk counts – this is sufficient for further funding.
The following count as proof:
At least 90 LP (performance points) by the end of the 3rd semester, or 120 LP by the end of the 4th semester, or the number of LP specified by the BAföG representative in the subject department. This number must be communicated to the Office (proof can, for example, be a printout from Campus Management/Agnes).
Form 5 signed by the BAföG representative confirms that you have performed at the required level. If this is not the case by 31 July/31 January, you must wait until the end of the semester and submit the positive certificate by the end of the 4th semester. If no proof is provided, there are possibilities to obtain further funding. For this, however, make sure you consult the staff at the BAföG Office.
The Office for Educational Support may authorise the submission of the certificate of suitability at a later date when there are facts which are likely to justify a later extension of the maximum financial support period. The following are examples of what may be considered:
Serious reasons such as illness, failing a (module) test
Pregnancy/birth or the care/raising of a child aged ten or younger
It is not possible here to list all aspects of the rules for financial support after changing your course of study.
However, you should know the basic principles:
If you have ceased a course of study for a compelling reason (e.g. a change in interests or inclination, unsuitability), or if you have changed your subject for an irrefutable reason or ceased studying, educational support funding is provided for another course of study.
The law assumes that there is a compelling reason for a first-time course change or for ceasing studying, if either of these takes place prior to the start of the 3rd semester. If the first change is made before the start of the 3rd semester, no separate reason has to be given for the course change or for ceasing your studies.
If the change of course takes place only after the beginning of the 3rd semester but before the beginning of the 4th semester, a compelling reason must apply and be given.
If semesters from the previous course of study are counted towards the new degree, financial support can still be provided for the new course of study for a compelling reason, if the resulting reduction in the number of semesters is limited to no more than three.
If the course of study is changed or ceased only after the 4th semester has begun, educational support funding will only be provided for another course of study if you have an irrefutable reason for changing or ceasing your course. This also applies if you have not applied for or received funding for your studies.
A reason only counts as irrefutable if it means it is not possible to choose between continuing or ceasing your previous course of study, or if it means it is not possible to change to a different subject. Based on this, an irrefutable reason would be an unexpected disability – as a result of an accident, for example – or an allergy to a particular substance, thus making it impossible to pursue the desired career.
Example 1: After two semesters, student A switches to law after studying chemistry for two semesters. Since the old semesters cannot be credited to the new course, the two semesters are “lost”. However, this does not affect the educational support funding, which begins again with semester 1 and is therefore possible for studies in the new discipline until the end of the regular study period.
Example 2: Student B has studied chemistry for one semester, changes to the subject of law after one semester, and after an additional semester switches to English with a teaching post option (6-semester examination period).
The loss of a further semester due to the second subject change means there can be no “normal support” for the lost semester in the form of subsidies/government loan. Instead, support is only possible in the form of a bank loan subject to interest (see Point 12).
Within the regular study period (maximum financial support period), you receive half of the funding as a non-repayable grant and half as a non-interest-bearing loan.
The interest-free loan matures 5 years after the end of the standard study period. The loan is to be repaid in instalments of at least €130 per month. After the payment of 77 installments (€10,010) you are usually debt-free. This rule does not apply to the full loan grant type. If, for economic reasons, you cannot pay the standard rate of €130, the rate can be reduced or suspended on request. After 20 years at the latest, there will be a clear debt cut for all those who have at least made an effort to repay the loan by then and have fulfilled their other obligations to cooperate in the loan collection process. The remaining amount will be waived (also for full loans). The loan may be repaid prematurely, in full or in part. For this, large waivers are allowed. The size of the waiver increases with the amount of the loan debt.
For example, if you owe €6,000, you will receive a waiver of 20.5% of the loan debt, and you will have to pay back only €4,770.
A central office in Cologne – Bundesverwaltungsamt, BT-BAföG, 50728 Cologne, telephone no.: (0221) 758-4500 – is responsible for loan collection. This office will send repayment notices around 4.5 years after the end of the regular study period.
Once you have received this repayment notice, please remember to submit your possible applications for waiver within one month (cut-off period!). After completing your studies, please make sure to inform the Federal Administration Office ("Bundesverwaltungsamt") of your most recent address. This is also possible online at www.bva.bund.de.
Should you miss this, you will be charged with the cost of finding out your address. This currently costs €25.
You only need to read the following section if you already have a professional qualification or a university degree before the start of your studies. This depends on completed a course of study which can in principle be supported by BAföG (technical college, vocational school). In-company training (teaching) is not taken into consideration.
A master’s degree can in principle be funded if it is based on a Bachelor’s degree or baccalaureate course and you have so far only completed a Bachelor’s degree or baccalaureate course. If, for example, you are admitted to a Master’s degree on the basis of a diploma, no further funding is possible under BAföG.
The following are examples of when educational support funding is provided for one further course of study:
When the course of study builds upon a higher education course or equivalent as per national law, as legally required for the pursuit of the desired career (e.g. further training in psychotherapy after Master’s degree in psychology, enabling you to work as a psychotherapist)
When access to the course was made possible by the previous course of study, and the course is also self-contained and pursues a further specialisation in the same field (e.g. carer after training as a socio-pedagogical assistant)
When the previous course was at a technical higher secondary school (attendance of which requires you to have completed vocational training), an evening grammar school, or a college, and was furthermore an entry requirement for continuing your education (e.g. degree course after going to an evening grammar school)
When the entrance requirements for the course of study to be funded were met by doing a non-school-pupil examination or an entrance examination for a university
When the student has completed an at least three-year course of study as initial vocational training at a technical college or vocational school and the completion of previous professional education was not a condition of entry (e.g. a degree after completing a course at a technical college for fashion design)
When you have a Bachelor’s degree and then start a Master’s degree. It is not required to immediately continue studying after the Bachelor’s degree. (However, please note the age limit – 35 years – when starting a Master’s degree.) It does matter what kind of university the degree is from, or whether it was gained inside our outside of Germany. If your university has only provisionally enrolled you on the Master’s degree because you do not yet have your Bachelor’s degree results, financial support will be provided until you finally receive notice of admission, with the right reserved to demand repayment.
Generally, educational support funding is only provided for further studies if the unique circumstances in a single case – in particular the educational goal – require this. For this purpose, please visit us during consultation hours for detailed advice.
The full loan under BAföG is a special form of support. It can be granted when there is no longer a possibility to get "normal" BAföG (subsidy/state loan).
This might e. g. be the case when
the student has started further education (e.g. second change of subject without full semester credit)
the maximum duration of financial support has been exceeded and there are no (no longer) grounds for justifying a grant/state loan in the exceedance phase.
In their application students can limit the amount for the full loan. This would be binding for the approval period.
BAföG refusal certificates are issued in our Office for Educational Support.
You can only get a refusal certificate if you are not fundamentally entitled to claim financial support for your education. This may be the case if you have exceeded the age limit, if you are studying part time, if you are not entitled to claim due to your status as a non-German citizen, or if you have started a course for which no financial support is provided. Another potential reason is if you have completed your fourth semester and fallen behind in your academic work, and the law does not recognise your reasons for thus extending your studies beyond the regular time set for the completion of your course. There are circumstances in which we will not issue a refusal certificate. This may be the case if, for instance, you have no entitlement because of the high value of the assets you own, or because your income (or that of your parents) is too high.
To see if we can issue a refusal certificate, we need this application (German only) and the following documents:
Appendix 1 to Form 1 (CV)
Enrolment certificate which states how many semesters you have been studying your current course for, and how many semesters you have been at university in total
Where relevant, proof of your residence status (copy of your passport)
We know that bureaucracy is often not easy and that questions regarding the filling in of the forms often arise, especially during the first application phase. The following videos will give you helpful tips on how to apply and serve as a guide. If you have any further questions, please contact the staff of studierendenWERK.
studierendenWERK BERLIN’s Social Counselling Centre can financially support students in some situations. You can find out what support is available to you by speaking with your Social Counselling Centre.