12. Study Break or Changing Course of Study
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 here).