Interim financial aid for students: what you need to know

The BMBF is providing interim financial aid for students faced with pandemic-related financial hardship. The aid consists of two parts: the KfW student loan, and interim aid, which is allocated by the student services organisations.

Gastronomie in der Corona-Zeit
When classes end, off to work they go . . . Two out of three uni students hold down a student job. Interim financial aid is now available for those who have lost that job due to the coronavirus pandemic. © Adobe Stock / annacovic

The coronavirus pandemic has been a financial challenge and has meant financial hardship for a great number of students. Students who are entitled to receive funding under the Federal Training Assistance Act (BAföG) but have not yet applied for it – either because they had earned enough from a part-time job or received enough money from their parents and whose income has been interrupted due to the pandemic – should now apply for a BAföG grant. However, some students do not fulfil the criteria to receive BAföG (e.g. because they have exceeded the standard period of study or are enrolled in a second period of university studies). The Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) has now made interim financial aid available for this group of students. There are two components of the financial aid: the well-established student loan from the KfW banking group, and financial aid, which is allocated by student services organisations.

KfW student loan: Basic questions and answers

How does the student loan work?

Since 8 May 2020, students have been able apply for a loan from KfW which is interest-free until 31 March 2021. Students from EU member states who have resided in Germany for less than three years and students from third countries can apply since 1 June 2020.

The BMBF will pay the interest costs until 31 March 2021 on KfW student loans, which are in the disbursement phase before that date. After that date, students are expected to pay the applicable interest rate themselves. Depending on need, the loan is granted for an amount of up to €650 per month following an unbureaucratic online application procedure.

The temporary interest-free period on student loans also applies for students who have already taken out a KfW student loan and are receiving disbursements. The loans being made to students will likely enable additional funding of up to €1 billion in total.

What are the rules governing student loan repayment?

The usual, very flexible, repayment schedules for KfW student loans apply. Terms and conditions can be agreed and amended on an individual Basis.

The basic conditions for loan repayment are as follows: no repayment is due during a grace period of 6 to 23 months, but during which interest may accrue. A minimum instalment of €20 per month is due in the subsequent repayment phase. A maximum repayment period of 25 years is in effect. Loans must be repaid by the borrower’s 67th birthday.

Unscheduled repayments are allowed, which is attractive in particular for small-volume and shorter-term financial aid.

Further information is available here.

Who is eligible for KfW aid?

The KfW student loan as interim financial aid is available to the previously eligible group: students aged 18-44 who are enrolled at a state-recognized institution of higher education in Germany and fulfil one of the following conditions:

  • German citizens who are registered as living in Germany
  • Dependants of German citizens who live with them in Germany and who are registered here
  • EU citizens who have been lawfully residing in Germany on a permanent basis for at least three years and who are registered here
  • Dependants of EU citizens (who fulfil the above criteria) and reside with them in Germany and who are registered here
  • Non-nationals who have acquired their university entrance qualifications in Germany and are registered in Germany

In addition, the group eligible for a KfW student loan will be expanded for a limited period of time. International students – third country nationals and EU citizens who have resided in Germany for less than three years – can take advantage of the loan, provided their primary residence is in Germany.

To check if you fulfil the criteria for the KfW loan, go to the KfW website .

How does one apply?

Applications for interim financial aid can be submitted to KfW since 8 May 2020. Students from EU member states who have resided in Germany for less than three years and students from third countries can apply since 1 June 2020. Further information is available on the KfW website at www.kfw.de/studienkredit-coronahilfe

When can applicants expect disbursement of the student loan?

If an application for aid is made by the fifteenth day of the month, disbursement will begin on the first day of the following month.

Is there any other form of emergency aid for students in need?

Yes. A sum of €100 million is available, in addition to the aid from KfW. Students faced with pandemic-related financial hardship and who need immediate help can apply for financial aid with the student services organisations.

Interim aid for students: basic questions and answers

Note on the start of the second month of application

Please note the following if applying:
- You need the complete bank statements of the previous months, i.e. from back to February or March when your pandemic-related financial hardship started to the day before the application. The bank statement of July – or if not possible the complete documentation of turnover – is obligatory.
- Your name and your bank account number needs to be recognizable on your bank statement.
- Please include all bank accounts including online accounts as Paypal and Comdirect.
- It is absolutely necessary to submit either the notice of termination of employment or the suspension of employment by the employer(s) or a declaration by the applicant on the loss of self-employment or a declaration by the applicant about the loss of parental maintenance payments. Please complete the declaration if it is not obvious from the notice of termination of employment that it is due to the corona pandemia. Please upload some kind of prove if your parents cannot support you anymore.
- It is obligatory to either submit the identity card or the passport and the certificate of residence to document your current address.
- You must also submit your higher education enrolment certificate for the summer semester of 2020 (no other).

Important note regarding the hotline:
Please look into the FAQs first and only call if questions are still open afterwards.
The BMBF hotline cannot answer questions about a specific application. Nobody else than your local student organization can look into your application and is allowed to do so.

How does the interim aid work?

The interim financial aid is intended for students who demonstrate pandemic-related financial hardship and require immediate help. The aid provides students with up to €500 each for the months of June, July and August 2020, as long as the pandemic-related hardship persists. Applications for aid must be made separately for each of the three months concerned.

Who is eligible for the interim financial aid?

Students may apply for interim financial aid if they are enrolled at a public or state-recognised higher education institution in Germany and are not on leave of absence from their studies at the time of application. Both German nationals and international students are eligible. There are no age restrictions on eligibility.

How does one apply?

Applications can be submitted since June 16 2020 in the online portal. The application procedure is online only. The guidelines, which apply to the application and granting of the interim financial aid, can be found before the FAQs on this web page. The local student organization decides about the granting of the interim financial aid within the available means. There is no entitlement to the interim financial aid.

How much financial aid can I receive?

If you can prove you are suffering pandemic-related financial hardship, for example because you lost a part-time job and have not yet found new employment, you may be eligible to receive between €100 and €500 per month as a state grant from your local student services organisation.

Applications are being accepted for the months of June, July and August 2020. You must submit a new and separate application for each month.

The amount of aid depends on your bank balance at the time you submit the online application; that is, the bank balance on the last bankig day before the date of the application. Example: if you file an application on 20 June 2020, your bank balance on 19 June 2020 is relevant to the decision to grant financial aid. The amount of the grant is based on individual pandemic-related need. Financial need is determined as follows:

Bank balance

Interim financial aid

less than € 100.00

€ 500.00

between € 100.00 and € 199.00

€ 400.00

between € 200.00 and € 299.00

€ 300.00

between € 300.00 and € 399.00

€ 200.00

between € 400.00 and € 499.00

€ 100.00

Depending on actual need, you may also apply for a lower amount of aid.

What do you need to know from me? What documentation do I have to submit online?

The online application tool asks you to upload and submit the following documents:

  • Enrolment certificate from your higher education institution for the summer semester 2020
  • Your identity card or equivalent official proof of ID (e.g. passport with residence registration certificate)
  • Details of a bank account in Germany; please note that the financial aid can only be transferred to your own bank account
  • Statement providing reasons for your pandemic-related financial hardship. The bank statement must not be blackened. Otherwise, it counts as incomplete.

What is the deadline for applications?

You can apply for aid up until the last day of a given month to receive aid for that month. Applications are reviewed for the month in which the application is made; in other words, an application dated 31 July 2020 is reviewed for July 2020.

Can I apply for aid more than once?

Interim financial aid is disbursed on a monthly basis. If financial hardship persists for longer than one month, you can apply for aid by submitting a new application. You may apply for aid up to three consecutive times in June, July and August 2020.

Can I also apply for interim financial aid if I am a recipient of a student loan or scholarship?

In principle, yes. You must nevertheless prove that you are suffering pandemic-related financial hardship despite funding from these other sources.

Can I apply for aid if I have exceeded the standard period of study?

Yes.

I am enrolled in a distance-learning course. Am I eligible?

Yes.

I am in my second period of university studies. Am I eligible?

Yes.

I study at a private higher education institution (state-recognised/not state-recognised). Am I eligible?

Yes, if you are enrolled at a state-recognised higher education institution.

When can applicants expect disbursement of aid?

Starting by the end of May the 57 local student organisations in Germany were provided the financial means in order to forward them to students in need. The application portal went online on June 16. The portal to process applications by the local student organisations has been available since June 29. Thus, applications can now be processed and the interim financial aid is disbursed.

Why is the application and pay out of the interim financial aid not faster?

The interim financial aid shall be available to students in pandemic-related financial hardship in a nationwide standardized way. It has been the shared goal of the BMBF and the Deutsches Studentenwerk from the very beginning to make sure that the interim financial aid reaches students in need as quickly as possible. Therefor a reliably usable online tool is necessary which allows a simple application. Building up a new application system and its technical requirements is a process of high complexity. This was one of reasons why the BMBF opted for the well-established KfW student loan as the first column of the interim financial aid.

I am a foreign student. Can it have a negative impact on my legal situation if I apply for the interim financial aid?

The use of the interim financial aid does not have any influence on questions rearding the right of residence. If the interim financial aid is granted it is due to a sudden financial difficulty through no fault of one’s own. Therefor a situation is assumed that counts as a hardship for the grant of a temporary, single emergency aid. Thus an exception occurs to the secure subsistence according to § 5 Abs. 1 Nr. 1 AufenthG.

Can I apply for the grant retroactively?

You can only apply for the interim financial aid for the current month. These are the months June, July, and August. A retroactive application is not possible.

Are there other possibilities to apply for the interim financial aid?

No. You can only apply for the interim financial aid using the websites www.überbrückungshilfe-studierende.de or www.ueberbrueckungshilfe-studierende.de.

I turned in a complete application. Now I would like to upload additional documents or change details. Is this possible?

No. In general, nothing can be added to an application as soon as it is submitted. According to the guidelines, missing or wrong documents generally lead to the rejection of an application. Before finally submitting the application, please check carefully if all necessary documents are correct and complete. In exceptional cases, your local student organization can ask for additional information, which can be turned in within a certain amount of time.

Overall, it is reasonable to carefully check the application before sending it off. Using the log-in button on the first page you can log in again and again. Thus, it is possible to work on an application for several days.

Where can I find technical advice on the online application?

The Deutsches Studentenwerk put together some advice here (in German only).

Where can I find answers to questions that other students already asked?

The Deutsches Studentenwerk published answers to the ten most frequently asked questions here.

I study at a foreign university. Can I apply for the interim financial aid?

To the interim financial aid for students in pandemic-related financial hardship, apply additional rules (so-called guidelines). According to number 1.1 of these guidelines, those students are entitled to make an application who are matriculated at a state-recognised university in Germany and are not on leave at the time of the application.

I have a savings agreement or a blocked account. Do I need to turn in bank statements for those?

No. Statements of savings agreements (e.g. construction loans) or other accounts, which cannot be accessed on short notice (e.g. rent deposit accounts, other blocked accounts, or trust accounts), do not have to be turned in.

Can I blacken certain information in my identity card?

 Yes. Only documentation that proves the pandemic-related financial hardship needs to be turned in completely. Details in your identity card, which are not directly related to your identity or your address, can be blackened.

Hotline for the interim financial aid

Telephone:          0800 26 23 003

This hotline gives advice on questions regarding the content of the interim financial aid. Advice on technical questions can be found here.

Why was my application rejected?

We are sorry that your application could not be accepted. You can be sure that it was considered carefully and in a nationwide standardised way. Please understand that it is not possible to communicate individual reasons of rejection. Please turn in another application for July 2020 if your pandemic-related financial hardship continues.

Is there any other form of financial aid for students faced with pandemic-related hardship?

Long-term support is available in the form of a KfW student loan and as grants under the Federal Training Assistance Act (BAföG).