Funding and financial assistance: Financing your studies
There are a number of different ways to receive financial assistance during your studies. The most important assistance is state funding called “BAföG”. Some universities also waive or cover the cost of certain fees. There are either no tuition fees or only low tuition fees at German universities.
Depending on how long you have been in Germany, your age and your residency status, there are various options for receiving financial assistance.
There are either no tuition fees or only low tuition fees at German universities. The majority of German universities are financed by the state. Students do not generally pay tuition fees for bachelor degree courses. There may be tuition fees for certain Masters degree courses but these are not very high in comparison to other countries.
Fee waivers and university scholarships
Some universities waive or pay the cost of certain charges such as those for guest student status, semester travel tickets, admission fees, examination fees or German language courses. Please enquire at the university where you wish to study about the opportunities available.
Various organisations, universities, German states and cities offer scholarships specifically for refugees. Unfortunately, there is currently no database where you can search for suitable funding opportunities. Please contact the university where you wish to study to receive information about the financial assistance available.
The DAAD does not currently offer any scholarships exclusively for refugees.
BAföG is a state-funded financial aid programme for students and stands for the BundesAusbildungsförderungsGesetz (Federal Education and Trainings Assistance Act). Half of the funding is paid as a grant and the other half as an interest free government loan. You are required to start repaying the government loan – i.e. half of the funding – in regular instalments no earlier than five years after the completion of your standard period of study. Nobody is expected to repay more than 10,000 euros. The amount you receive from the BAföG programme is dependent on a variety of factors. The maximum amount per month is 670 euros. If you or your parents do not have sufficient income, you are normally entitled to receive funding but only for a maximum period covering your standard period of study.
Whether and when you are entitled to claim BAföG is dependent on your residency status.
If you are a recognised refugee (entitled to asylum, granted refugee status or given subsidiary protection)
You can apply for BAföG irrespective of how long you have been in Germany.
If you are a "tolerated" refugee or the holder of certain humanitarian residency permits
You can apply for BAföG 15 months after the date you applied for asylum in Germany. This rule will come into force on 1 January 2016.
If your application for asylum is still being processed
You cannot apply for BAföG. You can receive assistance under the Asylum Seekers Benefits Act.
If you are entitled to claim BAföG , you must submit an application. This involves filling out a variety of forms and submitting them to the responsible BAföG Office for your university. Some documents and verifications/certificates are also required with the application. These include, for example, documentation about your income and assets and certificates from your university. You can only receive BAföG if the fully completed application has been submitted to the Educational Support Office (Amt für Ausbildungsförderung). You are thus required to submit all of the necessary information and the required certificates/verifications. You will find a checklist for completing the BAföG application on the Studentenwerke (student services body) website.
The Educational Support Office or Studentenwerke that is responsible for your application is dependent on where you are studying. You are required to submit your application to the Studentenwerke that is responsible for the university at which you are studying or wish to study. The Educational Support Office can answer your questions and help you to complete your application correctly. You can find the Studentenwerke responsible for you on the website of the German National Association for Student Affairs (DSW).
Educational Guidance for University Guarantee Funds Service
The Educational Guidance for University Guarantee Funds Service provides advice and support to young migrants to help them continue or commence their degree studies. You can receive advice free of charge at the guidance centres. There are 20 guidance centres across Germany. You can register for an appointment on the website.
The Educational Guidance for University Guarantee Funds Service also provides financial support. They fund selected German language courses that prepare you for the TestDaF exam and also cover the examination fees. Other financial assistance includes a grant for rental costs and learning materials, as well as covering the costs for fees and the notarisation of documents.
You have to meet certain criteria to be eligible for the financial assistance. You can find more detailed information about the funding criteria on the University Guarantee Funds website.
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