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Understanding Bafög: Federal Training Assistance Act

Understanding Bafög: Federal Training Assistance Act

If you’re a student in Germany, you might be familiar with Bafög, which stands for Bundesausbildungsförderungsgesetz (Federal Training Assistance Act). This financial aid is designed to help students cover their living expenses while studying, especially since most public universities in Germany do not charge tuition fees. However, students still need to manage costs for housing, food, and other essentials.

Recent Changes to Bafög

The Bundestag has recently voted to increase the maximum Bafög rate from 934 euros to 992 euros. Additionally, the housing allowance, which was previously set at 380 euros, will also see an increase. This change aims to provide better financial support for students, though critics, including Deutsches Studentenwerk (DSW), argue that the increase is still insufficient for students to live comfortably.

Eligibility for Bafög

You do not necessarily need to be a German citizen to qualify for Bafög, but it is more challenging for international students. To be eligible, international students must meet specific requirements, such as being well-integrated into German society with a realistic prospect of staying, or having resided in Germany for at least five years if they are refugees. Additionally, applicants must be under 45 years of age.

Financial Aid Breakdown

Bafög is divided into two parts:

  1. Grant: Half of the financial aid is provided as a grant, which does not need to be repaid.
  2. Interest-Free State Loan: The other half is an interest-free loan that students will need to repay after completing their studies.

Challenges with Bafög

While the increase in Bafög is a positive step, there are still significant challenges. One major issue is that the cost of mandatory student insurance tends to rise every time the Bafög rate increases. For instance, the student insurance cost was 80 euros in 2018, but it has now risen to 130 euros. This increase affects all students, including those who are not entitled to Bafög, adding an additional financial burden.

The recent changes in Bafög aim to provide better support for students in Germany, but the challenges and criticisms highlight that there is still a long way to go in ensuring that all students can afford their living expenses comfortably.

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