We want all young people to be able to pursue qualifications that suit their talents and interests, regardless of their background. To achieve this, we have made further improvements to the Federal Training Assistance Act, or BAföG for short. The changes will increase the number of people eligible for support and raise the rates of funding. About 963,000 students at secondary schools and universities received BAföG support in 2011, a number that will continue to rise.
The 23rd BAföG Amendment includes various improvements to increase the number of people eligible for funding and raise the funding rates.
Some of the changes include:
The BAföG entitlement, which determines the rates of funding, was increased by 2 per cent, while the allowable deductions were increased by 3 per cent. The flat-rate deduction of compulsory social security contributions was also updated.
To a certain extent, contributions to the privately funded "Riester" pension scheme are now deductable from the income on which BAföG payments are based, to the benefit of recipients. The same applies to the pension assets of recipients; the assets of parents, spouses and registered partners will not be taken into account.
The rent allowance is to be granted as a lump sum; recipients are no longer be required to furnish proof.
Talent- and merit-based scholarships of up to 300 euros per month will not be deducted from the student's BAföG entitlement. A monthly average will be calculated for scholarships that are not paid out on a monthly basis.
Funding for secondary school students who want to spend some time abroad will continue to be expanded.
Students who want to undertake a training programme or internship abroad no longer have to produce (separate) evidence showing that they have sufficient knowledge of the language of instruction or the official language of the country in which they will be studying.
The general age limit - the age by which students have to have started their studies in order to be eligible for BAföG - has been increased from 30 to 35 years at Master's degree level.
For recipients who are still raising their own child under the age of 10 when they turn 30 or 35 and are only employed to a limited extent, the age limit can be increased until the child reaches the age of 10.
The BAföG provisions for spouses will also apply to partners in registered (same-sex) partnerships. This means that the partner's income will be taken into account when calculating the entitlement, and it will also lead to changes in the eligibility of foreign registered partners.
Students of programmes which provide credits under the European Credit Transfer System (ECTS) can now simply submit proof of the requisite number of ECTS credits to continue to receive funding after the fourth semester.
Students who switch courses once for important reasons will be entitled to regular BAföG funding, consisting of a 50 per cent grant and a 50 per cent interest-free loan, for the entire regular duration of their new course. The previous rules - according to which the student was only entitled to a bank loan for part of the new course - no longer apply.