If you experience funding difficulties during an academic course in Germany, there's an excellent chance that BAföG could help.
What is BAfög in Germany?
BAföG is a shortened form of the word “Bundesausbildungsförderungsgesetz”, which can be roughly translated as the Federal Training Assistance Act. As the name suggests, it is designed to provide support for those undergoing training.
Money is provided in a mix of a zero-interest loan and simple grants, and a monthly maximum of 735 EUR applies. Amounts are also means assessed so those with parental support may receive nothing.
Since its creation, the system has become a key part of Germany's student financial aid setup, providing help for around a quarter of all students.
How many years of residency do you need to qualify for BAfög?
Initially, BAfög was intended to serve German students alone. It has since been extended to international students. However, funds for non-German recipients are harder to obtain and are generally limited to exceptional cases.
Recipients typically must have been resident in Germany for 5 years. But exceptions can be made for those with a strong prospect of remaining in Germany, such as those who are married to German spouses.
How do you apply for BAfög?
Applications for the BAfög can be made online via the service's website. (http://www.bafög.de/de/antragsassistent-305.php). Documents can either be completed online, or printed and sent via post.
To do so, you'll need to supply proof of health insurance, passport documents, proof of income and assets, and possibly information about parental income.
To find out more, head to the BAfög website, where you'll find handy information sheets.