3 students looking in different directions

BAföG funding for international students

For many students, thinking about financing their studies gives them a headache. A well-known financial support for German students is BAföG. But is this also an option for international students?


by Wendy Sexton

Kindly, the Head of the Office for Educational Funding (Amt für Ausbildungsförderung) Christian Gröger-Hafermann provided us with some useful information. Let’s have a look at the requirements.

What is BAföG?

BAföG stands for the wonderful German term “Bundesausbildungsförderungsgesetz“. Freely translated that means as much as “law of education funding of the state”. Does that sound any better? Well, in the end, BAföG is a financial support for pupils, students, interns and other people during their education phase. You have to meet certain requirements to be eligible for BAföG, such as your parents not being able to provide financial support. Also, you should not earn too much money or have too large amounts of savings. In the most cases, you have to pay back half of the funding you received a few years after the end of your education, but it depends on the sort of BAföG you get.

Can international students apply for BAföG?

Basically, the answer to this question is yes. International students can receive support according to the BAföG, but this is linked to certain requirements. These are quite complicated. If you are interested, you should definitely inform yourself prior to the application at a responsible office for educational funding. Here is some general information, which can give you a hint, whether you are eligible for BAföG or not. But in any case: Doublecheck for your individual case!

In which case can EU students receive BAföG?

EU students can be eligible for BAföG funding, if they have lived in Germany for five years before the start of the eligible period. Or if they have been employed in Germany before the start of the eligible period in a job related to their study or education. Furthermore, there is a chance of getting BAföG, if one of their parents or their spouse works in Germany or gets education here. The same rules also apply for students coming from Switzerland, Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein.

In which case can non-EU students be eligible for BAfögG?

If you come from a country outside the EU, the situation is a bit more complicated. Non-EU students can receive funding if they have a residence status – specified in more detail in the law. Also, there is a possibility to get BAföG if a parent or the spouse is an EU-citizen and works in Germany or gets education here.

Do international students receive the same amount of funding as domestic students?

If international students meet the requested criteria, all rules of the “German” BaföG also apply to foreign students. The highest BAföG rate you can get right now is 861 Euros per month. Also, international students can apply for all the various forms of BaföG, such as BAföG for students, BAföG for pupils, BAföG independent of parents, BAföG for internships an BAföG abroad.

Unfortunately, the rules for BAföG, especially for international students, are rather complicated. It depends a lot on your individual situation. So make sure to get some advice for your particular case at the BAföG Office. Surely, they will be happy to help!


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