The first increase in the Federal Training Assistance Act (BAföG) will officially come into force on 1st August 2019, enabling even more students to benefit from state training assistance. Shortly before the effective date, we talked to our student advisor Kristina Behr about what the change in the law has improved for students and what other financing options are available.
CBS: BAföG is one of the best-known state support programmes for students. For whom is this programme particularly interesting?
Kristina Behr: For all students with German citizenship. They may receive a monthly grant for the standard duration of study, provided that their application is approved. This is determined, among other things, on the basis of the income and assets of the applicant or his family. Currently, to receive BAföG, this should not exceed 1,835 euros for married parents and 1,225 euros for a single parent.
Prospective students who have already been in employment, can also apply for a grant independent of their parent`s income. Those who were employed for five years after the age of 18 or for three years following completion of three years of vocational training are entitled to BAföG. Difficulties arise however, when a Bachelor`s degree is first started at the age of 30 and a Master`s degree at 35. Also a second degree is often not supported.
We recommend our prospective students to carry out a free BAföG check. Online you will find many calculators with which you can check the amount of funding and eligibility. If BAföG funding is possible, students should definitely take advantage of it! BAföG has three decisive advantages over other funding programmes: Firstly, it is half an interest-free loan and half a grant, which is not repaid. Secondly, the loan is capped at a maximum of 10,000 euros – a student will not have to repay any more. And thirdly, BAföG can also be combined with other student loans and scholarships
CBS: The new BAföG reform comes into force in two days. What will this change for BAföG funded students?
Kristina Behr: The current funding ceiling of 735 euros will be increased in two steps: From 1st August it will rise to 853 euros and from the winter semester 2020/2021 to 861 euros. Income allowances will also be increased by 17 percent by 2021. Those who no longer live with their parents can now benefit from a flat-rate housing supplement of 325 euros per month.
CBS: In your opinion, are there any weaknesses in the new bill?
Kristina Behr: It is certainly arguable whether 325 euros is an appropriate amount for the flat-rate. In big cities like Cologne, it is difficult to rent a flat-share room for this sum – let alone your own apartment, except for special offers from the Cologne Student Union. In principle, however, the BAföG reform is a step in the right direction!
CBS: BAföG is of course not the only way to finance a course of study by means of a grant. What other options are there?
Kristina Behr: We make a general distinction between public funding opportunities, such as BAföG and federal education loans, and private funding programmes, such as the CBS Education Fund and CBS scholarships. However, we can only determine which is the best option by considering the student’ s individual circumstances. For this purpose, we offer personal consultations at the CBS campus.
CBS: Which support programmes are suitable for international students who want to study in Germany?
Kristina Behr: Student loans and education funds such as the KfW Student Loan or the CBS Education Fund are often an excellent choice for international students. Prospective students should note, however, that monthly funding is provided and interest of up to 5 percent may be charged.
CBS: What offers are there for prospective students of part-time study programmes?
Kristina Behr: As a rule, they usually only want to finance a part of the tuition fess – in this case, student loans are a good option. Additionally, it is always worth looking for public scholarships: There are numerous programmes for interested parties, e.g. from the Heinrich Böll Foundation or the BMBF`s promotion scholarship. Since these are usually dependent on conditions such as religious denomination, political or social commitment, interested parties should seek advice in a personal discussion.
CBS: CBS also offers a CBS Education Fund. Who is the programme aimed at and what are its benefits?
Kristina Behr: The CBS Education Fund is a Reverse Generation Contract, in which part or all of the tuition fees are initially paid by BrainCapital and are not repaid until after graduation but not before starting a career. A percentage of the future gross income is determined before the start of the studies, which the student then pays back over a period of 10 years after finding a job.
Any Bachelor’ s, Master’ s or MBA student who has successfully passed the CBS selection procedure can be sponsored. Additionally, Bachelor’ s students must be able to prove that they have achieved an Abitur grade of at least 2.9 and achieved a minimum of 7 points in mathematics.
The CBS Education Fund is a great opportunity for students who want a full grant or just a subsidy! Depending on the financing model and predicted income, a percentage is determined which is only repaid if the gross annual income exceeds 25,000 euros.
CBS: Thank you very much for the interview!