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) 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 organizations.
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: “We do not leave students alone in the pandemic. We will offer again the grant already known from summer to students in pandemic-related hardship – until the end of the winter semester. Thus, we want to help students whose job opportunities have ceased to exist due to the government actions against the corona pandemic.
Reinstating the student aid 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 will deteriorate in November. Thus, pandemic-related financial hardships could arise.
The application for November can be submitted again via the established national IT platform. Once more, 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.
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, July, August and September 2020 and was granted more than 155,000 times. Applications for aid had to be made separately for each of these four months. The BMBF is reinstating the grant of the interim financial starting in November – for the whole winter semester 2020/21. 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?
It is planned that applications can be submitted in the online portal again. 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.
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:
Less than €100,00
Between €100,00 and €199,99
Between €200,00 and €299,99
Between €300,00 and €399,99
Between €400,00 and €499,99
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 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 November 2020 will be reviewed for November 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?
I am enrolled in a distance-learning course. Am I eligible?
I am in my second course of university studies. Am I eligible?
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 have been online again since 20 November 2020. Thus, applications can be processed and the interim financial aid disbursed. In the first days after the reactivation of the application tool, high numbers of applications are expected (as was the case in June 2020). This is a major challenge for the local student organizations, as they have to process the wave of BAföG applications that usually comes in at the beginning of the winter semester at the same time. Possibly, a certain delay of the application processing cannot be avoided.
Due to the closing time of the Studentenwerke, there will probably be a backlog of applications between Christmas and New Year’s Eve. It is therefore recommended to turn in the December application as early as possible.
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 students’ right of residence. If the interim financial aid is granted, it is due to a sudden financial hardship arising through no fault of one’s own. Therefore, it is presumed that the situation counts as a hardship, which creates eligibility for the receipt of temporary, one-time emergency aid. This is considered an exception to the general requirement of 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 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 were enrolled at a public or state-recognized institution of higher education in Germany and were not on leave at the time of application were entitled to apply for interim financial aid in the months from June through September.
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) 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.
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.
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. 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.
In exceptional cases, a termination that occurred in the first shutdown can be accepted. As this is more than half a year ago, proof of more recent effort, e.g. two rejected applications, need 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.
- 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).