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. See our FAQ for more information.

Frau mit Maske
© Adobe Stock, Lubo Ivanko

The coronavirus pandemic has been a financial challenge and has meant financial hardship for a great number of students. Some of them are facing financial difficulties again. 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) makes 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 organizations.

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 was available, in addition to the aid from KfW, during the months of June through September 2020. Students faced with pandemic-related financial hardship and who need immediate help could apply for financial aid with the student services organisations.

Students of German and foreign citizenship enrolled at a public or state-recognized institution of higher education can apply again for interim financial aid in the form of a grant. The grant is meant to alleviate pandemic-related hardship and is distributed by the local student organizations (Studentenwerke). Federal Education Minister Anja Karliczek explains: “The pandemic is an enourmous burden for our society. I receive a lot of replies in which students describe their very personal situation. To me it is important that nobody needs to stop studying because of losing his source of income or because his parents’ income has declined. I think it is right to offer the interim financial aid seamlessly also over the course of the whole summer semester 2021 as support of students.”

Extendingthe student aid once more is part of the government’s actions to alleviate financial burdens related to measures against the pandemic decided by the Federal Republic of Germany and its states. Due to the closure of gastronomic businesses and cultural institutions, it is to be expected that the income situation of students stays limited. Thus, pandemic-related financial hardships could remain.

This diagram shows the number of applications submitted by month. The percentage of completed applications which were approved is also shown. Many applications for March and April are still being processed; changes are still to be expected for these months (last updated 7 April 2021). *Applications for the month of April can be submitted until 30 April.
This diagram shows the number of applications submitted by month. The percentage of completed applications which were approved is also shown. Many applications for March and April are still being processed; changes are still to be expected for these months (last updated 7 April 2021). *Applications for the month of April can be submitted until 30 April. © BMBF

The application for the current month can still be submitted via the established national IT platform. Applications can only be submitted online. Any documents or inquiries sent directly by post or email to the Studentenwerke, Deutsches Studentenwerk or the BMBF cannot be processed or returned.

Interim aid for students: frequently asked questions

Note on the month of November

Before preparing your application – which is not yet possible – please note the following:

- You will need the complete bank statements of the last month previous to the month of application and up to the last bank day before the application.

- Your name and your bank account number need to be recognizable on your bank statement. Please do not use screenshots taken with your mobile phone but rather PDF documents. Usually it is easier to create PDFs from the desktop view.

- Please include all accounts that are available to you at short notice (e.g. checking account, online deposits, securities portfolio).

- It is absolutely necessary to submit either the notice of termination of employment or the suspension of employment from the employer(s) or a declaration by the applicant of the loss of self-employment or a declaration by the applicant of the loss of parental financial support. If it is not obvious from the notice of termination of employment that the termination is due to the corona pandemic, please state this in your declaration. If your parents cannot continue to provide you with financial support, please upload proof of the circumstances.

- You must submit either your identity card or your passport and certificate of residence (Meldebescheinigung) as proof of your current address. The front and back of your ID must be generally recognizable. Your usual place of residence must be within Germany. This will be checked on the basis of your documentation.

- You must also submit your higher education enrolment certificate for the current semester (no other).

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 provided students with up to €500 for each of the months of June till September 2020. In November 2020 it was reinstated.So far, the interim financial aid has been granted more than 250,000 times. Applications for aid have to be made separately for each month. The BMBF extends the grant of the interim financial for the whole summer semester 2021. This happens in cooperation with the German National Association for Student Affairs (Deutsches Studentenwerk). The local Studentenwerke are responsible for processing the applications.

Who is eligible for the interim financial aid?

Students can apply for interim financial aid if they are enrolled at a public or state-recognized institution of higher education 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.

Ineligible are students enrolled at institutions of higher education at which studying usually is part of an employment relationship, e.g. universities of applied administrative sciences or universities of the Bundeswehr, as well as extra-occupational students. The same applies to guest students.

How does one apply?

Applications can be submitted exclusively in the online portal. The local student organization decides whether to grant the interim financial aid from the available funds. There is no entitlement to the interim financial aid.

The additional guidelines, which apply to the interim financial aid, can be consulted here. The guidelines for applications submitted April 1st  or later were revised in very few places. The guidelines applicable to applications submitted until March 31st can be found here.

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 organization.

The amount of aid depends on your bank balance at the time you submit the online application, i.e., the bank balance on the day before the date of the application. Financial need is determined as follows:

Bank balance

Grant

Less than €100,00

€500,00

Between €100,00 and €199,99

€400,00

Between €200,00 and €299,99

€300,00

Between €300,00 and €399,99

€200,00

Between €400,00 and €499,99

€100,00

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

Can I receive the interim financial aid if I suffer only minor income losses?

As explained above, the interim financial aid is paid out in steps of €100. The smallest amount that can be granted is €100. Therefore, income losses become only relevant above €100.

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 among others the following documents:

  • Enrollment certificate from your institution of higher education for the current semester,
  • 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),
  • Proof of your pandemic-related hardship; (please note that the bank statement may not be blackened in order to be considered complete). Bank statements need to be turned in completely for the previous month and the month of application until the last bank day before the application. Please note, that your bank statement must not be blackened as it otherwise does not count as complete.

What is the deadline for applications?

You can apply for aid for this month up until the last day of the month. Applications are reviewed for the month in which the application is made; in other words, an application dated 30 April 2021will be reviewed for April 2021.

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. However, pandemic-related financial support such as emergency funds or short-term allowance (Kurzarbeitergeld) preclude eligibility for the interim financial aid.

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 course of university studies. Am I eligible?

Yes.

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

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

When can applicants expect disbursement of aid?

The 57 local student organizations (Studentenwerke) in Germany were provided the financial means to disburse aid to students in need. The application portal as well as the portal to process applications by the local student organizations still online. Thus, applications can be processed and the interim financial aid disbursed.

Can I apply for the grant retroactively?

You can only apply for the interim financial aid for the month of November. 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. Your local student organization will ask for additional documents if something is unclear or the documentation is incomplete or incorrect. These documents can then be submitted within a certain amount of time.

Be sure to carefully check the application before sending it off. Using the log-in button on the first page you can log in as often as necessary. 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.

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?

According to Number 1.1 of the auxiliary conditions (guidelines), students who are enrolled at a public or state-recognized institution of higher education in Germany and are not on leave at the time of application are entitled to apply for interim financial aid.

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

No. Statements of savings agreements (e.g. construction loans in the saving period) or other accounts which cannot be accessed on short notice (e.g. rent deposit accounts, other escrow accounts, or trust accounts) do not have to be turned in. Please note: In the case of escrow accounts which are intended to secure international students’ living expenses, it is possible to withdraw a certain amount during the ongoing month; therefore, these accounts must be declared in your application. Please additionally provide a declaration which states the freely accessible account balance on the last business day before submitting your application.

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, your address or the validity of the document, can be blackened. Please make sure that front and back of your ID are generally recognizable despite the blackening.

What can I do if I lack documentation? 

Especially when proving your pandemic-related hardship it can be that you do not have documentation for all of your reasons. Under such exceptional circumstances,  it is possible to submit a self-declaration. This declaration must provide information that relevant documents would contain as well. In the online tool and here in the FAQs you’ll find details of what the self-declarations need to include. All self-declarations must be plausible, credible, and when considered together with the submitted documentation, they must demonstrate the acute, pandemic-caused financial hardship in a convincing way. All in all, your documentation must prove consistent efforts to end your pandemic-related hardship. Incorrect statements of facts relevant to the decision or withholding of such facts may be punishable by law.

How can I prove the loss of financial support from my parents? 

You can submit a self-declaration of the pandemic-caused loss of maintenance payments from your parents.

Your self-declaration must include the following:

  • Who you received maintenance payments from, how much you received and until when payments were made.
  • Details of the exact reasons why maintenance payments were stopped or reduced. If maintenance payments have been reduced, documentation should also be provided regarding the current scope of payment received.

How can I prove the loss of income from work as an employee? 

The standard form of proof is a notice of termination, documentation of the suspension of the employment or the employment contract together with a self-declaration stating that the contract was not extended due to the pandemic. The documents should be from the last two months prior to the application or from the month of application.

In exceptional cases, a termination that occurred in the first shutdown can be accepted. As this can be more than a year ago, proof of more recent effort, e.g. two rejected applications, needs to be submitted.

It is also possible to submit a self-declaration. Your self-declaration should include the following:

  • Duration and scope of previous employment
  • Reasons and circumstances of the termination of your employment
  • Details of your former employer(s)
  • Duration of the terminated activities
  • Exact dates of the termination of your employment (including date of last working day)
  • Average income from previous employment
  • Statement explaining why corresponding documentation cannot be provided for this

How can I prove unsuccessful applications?

Your self-declaration must include the following:

  • Prospective employer(s) (including specific contact person or department)
  • Date of unsuccessful applications and rejections
  • Envisaged scope of work and expected income
  • Statement explaining why corresponding documentation cannot be provided to verify applications and rejections.

And

  • A self-declaration concerning your need for employment in order to cover your living costs

How can I prove the loss of income from self-employment / work as a freelancer? 

Your self-declaration regarding the loss of self-employment should include the following:

  • Former client(s)
  • Type and scope of self-employed work, including specific information about which and to what extent commissions have been cancelled
  • Average income from self-employed work prior to the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic

Amount of income lost due to the pandemic or, if lost gradually over the course of the pandemic starting in March 2020, a statement documenting the decline in commissions (i.e. financial impact over time)

Where here can I find support filling in the application?  

Please read first the answers to the most frequently asked questions which are provided by the BMBF and the Deutsches Studentenwerk. If there are still uncertainties left, the telephone hotline answers questions about content.

Telephone: 0800 26 23 003

Consulting hours: Tue-Thur 8 - 4, Fr 8 - 12

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 standardized way.

The BMBF itself does not grant the interim financial aid. The Studentenwerke are responsible for the online application and processing. For reasons of data privacy, the BMBF does not have access to individual applications.

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

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