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The contents of this page were created to the best of our knowledge and belief. The information listed does not replace individual BAföG or legal advice.

BAföG is designed to enable students to obtain an education that is commensurate with their opportunities, e.g. full-time study at recognized German Universities such as Bielefeld University.

Many students can benefit from this state support. In particular, if one's own or family's financial resources cannot cover the costs of basic living expenses as well as educational costs, applying for BAföG should be considered to see if and how much one's own support is worth.

Below you will find non-binding information on BAföG with a focus on disability or illness-related needs.

Please always inform yourself as early as possible with regard to your individual situation.

Preliminary decision of the BAföG offices

It is possible to make an application for a preliminary decision. This can provide certainty in cases of doubt, e.g. due to Disadvantage compensation at the age limit at Course start. Such a preliminary decision is binding if the studies are started within one year after application (§ 46 para. 5 sentence 1 BAföG).

Amount of BAföG payment

The amount of monthly BAföG payments is made up of the need rates set by the legislator minus eligible income and assets.

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Independent BAföG advice is provided by the General Student Union (AStA) of Bielefeld University.

For students of Bielefeld University, the Studierendenwerk Bielefeld is responsible for educational support according to the BAföG (state financial assistance for education).

If necessary, the Office for Educational Support is responsible for providing sign language interpreters or other communication assistance during counseling sessions after prior consultation.

Who can apply for BAföG?

  • Neediness: The term "neediness" refers to the fact that a certain income limit (including that of parents or spouses, if applicable) or a certain amount of assets is not exceeded.
  • Age: As a rule, students are only eligible if they begin their studies by the age of 30 and the subsequent master's program by the age of 35.
    Exceeding the age limit may be permissible if a disability or illness makes it necessary to study or is an obstacle to the timely commencement of studies. It may also be permissible to exceed the age limit if applicants have acquired their higher education entrance qualification via the second educational pathway.
    Applicants are only entitled to BAföG if they take up their studies immediately after the obstacles have ceased to exist or they are "in need" (§10 paragraph 3 sentence 3 BAföG). This means, for example, for Prospective students with longer hospital stays and/or rehabilitation measures: as soon as they are able to study, Prospective students must immediately apply for a study place in the desired subject area.
  • Origin: In addition to German citizens in the sense of the Basic Law, there are a number of cases in which foreign citizens are also entitled to BAföG.

When and where do I apply for BAföG?

Submit your application as early as possible. The best time is immediately after you have received a confirmation of a study place. Even if you are not yet able to submit all documents in full. Missing documents can be submitted later. This is very important, as BAföG is not granted retroactively under any circumstances.

You must apply for BAföG in writing. There is also the possibility to submit the application online on the website.

Attention: Funding gaps between bachelor and master studies

Please note that there may be a funding gap between Bachelor's and Master's studies. Find out in good time in order to apply for academic achievements and not to lose your insurance coverage.

The BAföG entitlement ends at the end of the month in which the final grade of the successfully completed Bachelor's program is announced, but at the latest at the end of the 2nd month after the month in which the last part of the examination was taken (§ 15b para. 3 BAföG).

A provisional enrolment in the subsequent Master's program is sufficient to receive BAföG from this point in time subject to the reservation of reclaim (§ 7 para. 1a sentence 3 BAföG). The final admission must be available after one year at the latest. However, the funded months from enrolment in the master's program are counted towards the funding period for the master's program.

Interruption of studies due to illness

If you are prevented from completing your studies for more than three months due to illness, you must inform the Office for Educational Support. Payments will then be stopped from the fourth month of illness until you resume your studies.

If your studies are interrupted for a longer period of time (more than 3 months), you should seek advice on leave of absence from your studies. A leave of absence is important because otherwise you may be required to return BAföG academic achievements.

You can then, if necessary, apply for support from the Grundsicherung für Arbeitssuchende (basic support for job-seekers) according to SGB II (for interruptions of studies due to illness of less than six months) or support for living expenses according to SGB XII (if the interruption of studies due to illness lasts longer than six months).

Change of discipline

In principle, all students have the opportunity to change subject areas up to the beginning of the fourth semester without losing their entitlement to BAföG. The maximum funding period will then be adjusted accordingly.

If you would like to change the subject area at a later point in time, there are various justifications, some of which, however, have a negative effect on the funding as a whole or the maximum funding period. In any case, a change must be justified in writing.

Students for whom a change of study or field of study becomes necessary at a later point in time due to disability or illness can cite a so-called "unavoidable reason". This is also possible in the master's program.

An unavoidable reason can be, for example, an unexpected illness, emerging allergies or psychological or physical disability. This must be proven by a doctor or by a certificate of disability. In the case of a change for an unavoidable reason, BAföG is paid as a normal grant (subsidy/interest-free loan).

The following instructions must be observed:

  • You must initiate the change of subject area immediately, as soon as the "unavoidable reason" allows it
  • Get individual advice in any case
  • Apply for a preliminary decision at the education funding office responsible for you

Study longer? - Disadvantage compensation: funding beyond the maximum funding period

As a rule, BAföG is only granted for the project duration of the standard period of study of the respective degree programme. However, there are exceptions, e.g.:

  • if the studies are prolonged due to a disability (§15 Abs. 3 Nr.5 BAföG)
  • if there are "serious reasons" (§15 Abs. 3 Nr. 1 BAföG). This can also be a serious illness, due to which the study time is extended.

In any case, the application for "support beyond the maximum support period" must be submitted before the end of the current approval period and proof must be provided that the disability or illness has led to the delay in studies. Disability or illness-related delays in the course of studies should at best, if known, be claimed before the obligatory BAföG Certificate of Achievement. This must usually be submitted to the BAföG office at the end of the fourth semester, but depending on the examination regulations, it may also be submitted earlier (§48 para. 1 BAföG).

It is not sufficient to only prove the disability or illness. In addition, the following evidence must be provided:

  • Proof of the disability or serious illness itself (e.g. the assessment notice from the pension office or a severely disabled person's ID card; specialist medical reports, for example, are admissible if they show that a disability exists according to the statutory definition (§2 Para. 1 SGB IX)
  • how the disability or illness has an individual and concrete detrimental effect on the extension of the study period
  • the impossibility or unreasonableness of preventing this delay
  • the actual loss of time

Due to the obligation to provide evidence, we advise you to always keep a record over the course of your studies of whether and to what extent there have been study delays due to disability or illness. Disadvantage compensation in the course of studies or in examinations should also be documented by you in writing. This will make it easier for you to provide the relevant evidence.

If the Disadvantage compensation is rejected for funding beyond the maximum funding period.

If the Application for Disadvantage compensation is rejected, it is possible to receive a grant for the purpose of completing a course of study for up to 12 months even after the end of the maximum period of support (§15 para. 3a BAföG). However, the standard period of study must not be exceeded by more than four semesters and the degree must be attainable within 12 months.

This funding is an interest-free loan. This means that the funding received must be repaid in full. Please be sure to seek individual advice.

Disadvantage compensation in the determination of income

When determining the income of parents, spouses or life partners, verifiable additional disability-related expenses can be claimed due to extraordinary burdens (Section 25 (6) BAföG). Not only the applicant's disability can be taken into account, but also that of parents, spouses or life partners, if applicable.

Disadvantage compensation for income calculation and asset allowance

As a rule, students are entitled to an asset allowance. For married students or students in a registered civil partnership as well as for students with children, the tax-free amount is increased.

Students with disabilities can apply to their BAföG office to avoid undue hardship and, in exceptional cases, be granted a higher financial allowance. For example, a motor vehicle that is necessary due to the disability can be excluded from the property allowance as a Case of hardship/hardship case.

Additional expenses due to disability and illness

The monthly BAföG payments are made up of statutory standard rates. Costs for disability and illness-related additional needs during studies are not included in these standard rates. However, there are various possibilities for students to receive financial support for additional needs due to disability and illness.

Notes on repayment

BAföG is granted as an interest-free loan (50%) and as a non-repayable grant (50%) until the maximum funding period is reached. Repayment usually begins five years after the end of the maximum funding period and can be paid in installments.

The interest-free BAföG loan subsidy is actually repayable up to a maximum of 10,000, even if more was paid out during the course of study.

An exemption from repayment (deferment of payment) is possible, e.g. if the graduate's income is below a certain limit. Increased disability-related additional expenses can also be claimed via a hardship application. If you have difficulties with the repayment of the installments, you should seek individual advice from BAföG advisors at an early stage.

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